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    Is white coloured stool a symptom of jaundice?

Posted on Thu, 26 May 2016 in General Health
Question: Hi. Quick question - I'm a 43 yo healthy fit female.

I got ill last Thursday from what I thought was classical food poisoning or a stomach virus. Nausea, vomiting, inability to hold water or food, fever, fatigue. After 48 hours those symptoms more or less cleared up, and I started improving - but then I realised that my stool had suddenly turned white/clay-coloured.

I was a bit shocked and started searching what this might mean (I know, never a good thing to google symptoms...) - and am even more concerned now, since none of the potential underlying causes seems even remotely benign. I have been vaccinated against Hep A in 2010 with Avaxim, which has 25 years duration of protection, and have no other signs of jaundice, so I worry this may be something even more serious.

Is there cause for concern? Does this warrant examination - or whether I should wait it out before arranging an appointment?

Thank you!
Answered by Dr. Grzegorz Stanko 51 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Pale stool can not be ignored.

Detailed Answer:

Thank you for the query.

White stool can be a sign of bile ducts obstruction. However this condition usually appears with dark urine and itchy skin as other signs of jaundice.
The obstruction can appear due to stones in the bile ducts or in rare cases can be the first symptom of pancreas cancer.
For sure such symptom can not be ignored. Especially if the stool still has not turned brown back.

It would be good to have at least liver tests and bilirubin level checked. And you should not wait with it.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask further questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Grzegorz Stanko 20 minutes later
Thank you for this.

I do not have any of the other symptoms you mention - urine is normally coloured, skin is not itchy and I have no other signs of jaundice. I just had a food poisoning 4 days ago, followed by sudden onset of white stool in the aftermath, now lasting for 48 hours.

I do however have a history of pancreas cancer in my family.

How long do you think I should give it before I contact my GP for the test? Another 24-48 hours? Or should I start arranging tests immediately?

Thank you!

Answered by Dr. Grzegorz Stanko 41 minutes later
Brief Answer:
You can wait for the next stool.

Detailed Answer:
If you do not have other symptoms, you may wait till the next stool. If the next stool will be also white, you should wait no more.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Answered by
Dr. Grzegorz Stanko

General Surgeon

Practicing since :2008

Answered : 5768 Questions


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