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What causes change in stool color of a heavy drinker?

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Posted on Wed, 13 May 2015
Question: G/morning,
I am a 68 year old heavy drinker (been so off and on for years now and have quit in the past but for the past 9 months started drinking again. About a pint of Vodka per day)
Anyway on to my question........my stools have been very consistant in color up until this morning!
I noticed what I thought to be a different color then that of the past or maybe I am just being paranoid?
I am sending a pic so you can see.
Thanks in advance!
doctor
Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman (24 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
several points on this.

Detailed Answer:
let us start wtih stool color. While in general stool color is mainly due to what one eats and is of Very little importance, it can be important in particular disease contexts. Black or red stool can, of course, indicate bleeding. Lighter or more XXXXXXX color of stool (which is possible in this case) can imply that the liver is no longer able to filter out blood breakdown pigments into the stool and they are remaining in the body. This is generally accompanied by the person becoming yellow to greenish colored (JAUNDICE). This is a bad sign of liver disease (Cirrhosis, scarring) due to alcohol and is generally not fully reversible.

Simple blood tests of liver disease / liver function can confirm this.

Then there is the issue of alcoholism. Drinking even when one knows it will have bad consequences is the definition of addiction. Generally the person needs outside assistance. This includes, physician intervention, family and social support, setting up a therapeutic community/sopport group through 12 step or other programs often with inpatient rehab especially if there is the risk of alcohol withdrawal (which can be fatal).

I cannot comment on your particular situation without being persent. But I can give general information.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Matt Wachsman (5 minutes later)
Thank you Dr,
Does the pic I sent appear to be normal in color?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman (26 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
tricky to say

Detailed Answer:
without being there. I would be concerned that it is NOT normal in color.
The toilet paper looks yellow and not brown. This may indicate cirrhosis. Yellowing of the whites of the eyes would deffinitely confirm it. BROWN URINE would also definitely confirm it.... and really simple, fast and inexpensive laboratory tests would definitely confirm or rule it out.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Matt Wachsman (2 hours later)
Urine is normal in color
doctor
Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman (31 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
just general info

Detailed Answer:
cannot say for certain and would need exam/testing etc
and....
much less likely to be anything at all with normal urine color.

There is still the issues around the alcohol in terms of discontrol.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Matt Wachsman (3 hours later)
What is discontrol?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
discontrol

Detailed Answer:
doing something that you reasonably do not want to.

"I am a 68 year old heavy drinker (been so off and on for years now and have quit in the past but for the past 9 months started drinking again. About a pint of Vodka per day)" and having health concerns about alcohol intake. Not being able to stop drinking.

There's quite a bit of resources out there. 12 step programs, but also several new medications that are all somewhat helpful.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Matt Wachsman (11 minutes later)
I just went to the bathroom and my stool appeared to be normal in color! Could it be somerthing perhaps I ate?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman (3 hours later)
Brief Answer:
To summarize

Detailed Answer:
the ability to answer is more for general information than specifically for someone I won't meet.
And... well... yes, is the fast answer.

The change in stool color associated with cirrhosis is when the pigment from the breakdown of blood cannot get into the stool from the liver (because the liver is damaged) it builds up elsewhere. The person becomes yellow (jaundice) the urine becomes BROWN. And the stool becomes lighter to beige.

You aren't describing ANYof those signs, so, in those without signs of cirrhosis/jaundice/liver problems, its generally what one eats.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Matt Wachsman (9 hours later)
Thanks as always for your time,
Did the picture I sent you look like the stool was abnormally dark or bloody in any way or was it more towards the normal brown as should be?
Thanks
doctor
Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman (10 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
tricky to say

Detailed Answer:
it's hard to say just from a picture. Mostly about normal could have been light but without the urine without the jaundice... doesn't seem likely that it is abnormal.

still doesn't mean that drinking a large amount of alcohol is ok.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Matt Wachsman (2 days later)
G/morning Dr,
Being sent is a sample pic of todays stool movement.
Does it look normal?
I havent eaten anything out of the normal lately.
Thanks
doctor
Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman (19 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
not horrible

Detailed Answer:
but small changes in the amount of bile or small amounts of blood cannot be detected by visual inspection.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Dr. Matt Wachsman

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What causes change in stool color of a heavy drinker?

Brief Answer: several points on this. Detailed Answer: let us start wtih stool color. While in general stool color is mainly due to what one eats and is of Very little importance, it can be important in particular disease contexts. Black or red stool can, of course, indicate bleeding. Lighter or more XXXXXXX color of stool (which is possible in this case) can imply that the liver is no longer able to filter out blood breakdown pigments into the stool and they are remaining in the body. This is generally accompanied by the person becoming yellow to greenish colored (JAUNDICE). This is a bad sign of liver disease (Cirrhosis, scarring) due to alcohol and is generally not fully reversible. Simple blood tests of liver disease / liver function can confirm this. Then there is the issue of alcoholism. Drinking even when one knows it will have bad consequences is the definition of addiction. Generally the person needs outside assistance. This includes, physician intervention, family and social support, setting up a therapeutic community/sopport group through 12 step or other programs often with inpatient rehab especially if there is the risk of alcohol withdrawal (which can be fatal). I cannot comment on your particular situation without being persent. But I can give general information.