What is a Black Stool and What Causes It?

A black stool is a serious medical condition that can indicate bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. It can be caused by a variety of foods and some medications, so it is important to understand the reasons that your poop can turn black. This article will help you find the cause, and learn what to do about it.

The most common reason for a black stool is eating something that was dark in color. This can include foods like beets, dark beans, and red meat. However, this is not always a problem since if the food isn’t particularly spoiled or rotten, your intestines will break it down in the normal process. The color may also be due to certain foods and supplements, especially those that contain iron. If you have a large amount of iron in your diet, it can give your stool a black or tarry appearance.

If you are concerned about the cause of your poop, the first step is to visit your doctor or healthcare professional. They will ask you about your symptoms and perform a physical examination. They will also collect a sample of your stool for testing.

Bleeding in your upper digestive tract (stomach or duodenum) can cause a black or tarry stool. This is because blood from higher up in your digestive tract is exposed to stomach acid and other digestive fluids, which can change its color. This type of bleeding can often have a very foul smell and will have a sticky consistency. The condition is called melena and can be very dangerous if it occurs in the esophagus or stomach.

Lower gastrointestinal bleeding can also result in black or tarry stools. This is usually because of a varices, or enlarged veins, that can rupture inside the wall of the esophagus or stomach. Another cause is a tear in the mucus membrane called the Mallory-Weiss tear, which can lead to bleeding and can also be very dangerous.

Other conditions that can lead to a black stool include tumors in your digestive tract, anemia, or cirrhosis of the liver. If you have any of these conditions, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Your medical provider can determine the source of your gastrointestinal bleeding by doing a test called a GI series, which involves drinking barium and having X-rays taken of your digestive tract. This is done in a hospital or outpatient facility with light sedation, and it will allow them to see how your stool moves through the system. If your GI tract is bleeding, they can then use various procedures to locate the site of the bleed and stop it. This may involve passing a camera on a scope through your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine, or it could require surgery. Once the bleed is stopped, your symptoms should improve or resolve. However, if the symptoms are severe, you will likely need to have more extensive or urgent treatment.