Yellow stools are not a primary symptom of Crohn’s disease. However, they may happen due to fat malabsorption, which can lead to the malabsorption of certain fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. Another possible cause is eating yellow foods or food colorings. In some cases, a person with Crohn’s may notice yellow mucus on the outside of their stools.
This mucus can completely or partially cover the stool and may appear white or yellow. The body produces mucus to protect the inner lining of the intestines and make it easier to pass the stool. It is no cause for concern as a symptom on its own.
However, if stools are regularly yellow the whole way through, this could be a sign of an underlying condition, such as a pancreatic, liver, or gallbladder disease. If a person only notices yellow stools occasionally, they could be the result of dietary changes or stress.
In this article, we explain whether having yellow stools is a symptom of Crohn’s disease. We also cover the causes, appearance, and treatment of yellow stools.
Stools that are yellow all the way through are not a primary symptom of Crohn’s disease, but they may happen due to malabsorption. It is also possible that a person with Crohn’s disease may notice a coating on their stools that can appear yellow.
Yellow all the way through
Foul smelling yellow stools may be a sign that the digestive system is not absorbing nutrients as it should. Malabsorption can happen due to Crohn’s disease.
Learn more about the symptoms of malabsorption here.
If the foul smelling yellow stools are floating in the toilet bowl, this may indicate fat malabsorption specifically. This can happen in a person with Crohn’s disease if the condition has affected their terminal ileum, the far end of the small intestine that intersects with the large intestine.
A person can avoid malabsorption by getting regular tests for vitamin and mineral deficiencies and avoiding foods that cause flare-ups.
Learn what foods to avoid with Crohn’s disease here.
However, there may be other causes of the yellow color, such as:
- Giardia lamblia infection, called giardiasis
- liver disease
- gallbladder disease
With a yellow coating
Having mucus in the stool is a possible symptom of Crohn’s disease. The mucus may appear as streaks on the stools or cover them completely. It may be white or yellow.
If the mucus in the stool does not appear alongside new symptoms, it is no cause for concern in people with Crohn’s disease.
It is normal for a child’s stools to appear yellow. However, diarrhea that appears yellow could be a sign of toddler’s diarrhea.
Toddler’s diarrhea happens due to a diet low in fat and high in sugar or fluids. Drinking too much fruit juice or other sugary drinks may result in this condition.
If the diarrhea persists, it could mean that the child has Crohn’s disease or one of the following conditions:
- celiac disease
- lactose intolerance
- parasitic infections, such as giardiasis or cryptosporidiosis
- a food allergy
- pancreatic conditions
- overactive thyroid
Learn more about the different colors of baby poop and what they mean here.
Yellow stools can be the result of various health problems, or they may happen following recent changes to a person’s diet.
High fat meals pass through the digestive tract more quickly than those lower in fat and may result in loose, yellow stools. This is particularly the case for people who do not usually eat much fat.
Foods that contain yellow food coloring can give the feces a yellow tint.
Learn what to eat during a Crohn’s flare-up here.
Bile acid diarrhea
Bile acid diarrhea is a type of chronic diarrhea that affects 1 in every 100 people. It can cause yellow, greasy, or foul smelling diarrhea.
Other symptoms include:
- painful, watery, or explosive persistent diarrhea
- urgent need to pass stools
- multiple bowel movements a day, often at night
- excess wind
- stomach cramps
Giardiasis is an
- strong smelling, greasy stool
- stomach cramps
- excess wind
Early symptoms include fatigue and passing between two and five loose stools a day. People may also experience fever, joint swelling, and itchy skin.
Treatment usually involves antiparasitic medication.
Celiac disease is a condition in which the intestines
- loose, greasy, bulky, foul smelling stools
- persistent diarrhea
- excess wind
- lactose intolerance
- nausea and vomiting
- stomach pain
Those with this condition will need to follow a gluten-free diet.
Pancreatic cancer and associated cysts or tumors can prevent the body from properly absorbing the nutrients in foods. This impaired absorption can cause loose, yellow, and strong smelling stools. This change may happen if the body becomes unable to excrete pancreatic enzymes properly.
The symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
- stomach pain in the middle or upper back that is worse when lying down
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
Stools may also float due to the high fat content in undigested food.
The cause of yellow stools will determine the treatment options.
Yellow stools sometimes result from changes to the diet. Eliminating yellow foods, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and turmeric, from the diet may make the yellow color go away. A person should avoid high fat foods, such as fast food and processed meats, as these speed up digestion and can produce yellow stool.
If yellow stools are the result of an underlying condition, a doctor will advise the person on which course of treatment is right for them.
A person should monitor their stool over several days to see whether the yellow color clears up on its own.
If yellow stools persist or a person experiences the following symptoms, it is important to contact a doctor:
- abdominal pain
- breathing problems
- abdominal swelling or bloating
There is no cure for Crohn’s disease. However, a doctor may recommend one of several courses of treatment to reduce symptoms. These
- Aminosalicylates: These drugs reduce inflammation.
- Corticosteroids: These dampen the immune system and suppress inflammation.
- Immunomodulators: People take these to control their immune system response.
- Biologic therapies: These therapies control proteins to decrease intestinal inflammation.
Doctors may also prescribe bowel rest, which is a course of treatment that involves a liquid diet or a feeding tube. Bowel rest allows the intestines to heal, and it can often take place at home.
Surgery is an option for some people with Crohn’s disease. Although it will not cure the condition, it can sometimes relieve the symptoms. Doctors may use surgery to treat:
- life threatening bleeding
- side effects from medications
- intestinal obstructions
Learn more about the treatment options for Crohn’s disease here.
A person with Crohn’s disease may notice a yellow coating on their stools. This coating is mucus, which helps the stools pass through the intestines, and it is no cause for concern if there are no other new symptoms.
Stools that are yellow all the way through may be the result of a change in the diet or an underlying health condition.
A person may have recently eaten more carrots, sweet potatoes, or turmeric than usual. Yellow stools can also happen following a high fat meal. It is important to monitor yellow stools to see whether they clear up on their own after making dietary changes.
Health conditions that can cause yellow stools include liver, gallbladder, and pancreatic diseases.
If yellow stools last for several days or happen alongside unusual symptoms, such as cramping, pain, or diarrhea, it is important to seek medical help.