Introduction: White Specks in Poop
White specks in stool can be due to food, medication, or parasite. Any kind of change in the appearance of stool can signal a health problem. Why they occur depends on various factors including the size, shape, and texture of the white specks.
White specks in stool can signal a health problem, adjustment to diet, and changes in bowel habits.
Sometimes nuts and seeds go through the body without breaking down and directly pass out through the stool. Tapeworms and pinworms present in the stool can also look like white specks. (2) Sometimes body absorbs the medicine inside the capsule but not the casein which may appear in the stool. (1)
It is important to monitor the poop for changes in color and texture as it can provide information about the digestive system. It can provide information about digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, or inflammation. It can also provide information about dietary habits. It can also provide information about bacterial and viral gastroenteritis that can alter the color and texture of the stool. Monitoring poop can help in identifying any concerns with the poop.
Normal Color and Texture of Poop
Normal poop and texture of the poop depend on various factors including diet, hydration, and medication. The general characteristics include:
- Color: The color of normal poop is light to dark brown, which is due to the presence of bile that is produced by the liver and helps in breaking down fats. Sometimes other colors are also considered normal such as green color which occurs due to eating green or yellow color. The change in color may also be due to the presence of mucus.
- Consistency: The normal consistency of poop is similar to that of toothpaste. It should pass easily without straining or discomfort. If a stool is hard and lumpy, it may indicate constipation while loose and watery stool may indicate diarrhea.
- Shape: The shape of normal poop is like a sausage or a snake. Hard and jiggered edges may indicate constipation.
The normal texture of the poop can be affected due to the following reasons:
- Diet can have a significant impact on the color and texture of the poop. For example, consuming food high in fiber can lead to well-formed poop that is high in fat and can be greasy and loose. Certain foods including beets and blueberries can also temporarily change the color of the poop.
- Adequate hydration is essential for producing soft well-formed poop. Dehydration can lead to hard and difficult-to-pass poop.
- Certain medications and supplements such as antibiotics and iron supplements can also affect the color and texture of the poop.
- Certain medical conditions including celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis can affect the color of the poop and its texture.
- Stress also plays a role in changing the color and texture of the poop.
Causes of White Specks in Poop
There are numerous causes that can lead to white specks in the poop.
Undigested food particles are the most common cause of white specks in stool. It consists of the ingredients present in the food that are difficult to digest which may include quinoa, nuts, seeds, and high-fiber vegetables. All these can pass through the digestive tract without being digested at all and cause white specks in the stool.
This is the most expected cause when diarrhea or constipation is not observed along with white specks in stool.
Different types of parasites can lead to white specks in stool. Tapeworms may appear as large, white, and flat patches in the stool. It may lead to nausea, weakness, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.
Pinworms may be white in color and lay eggs near the anus. They are very small but can be present as white specks in stool. A person with pinworm may experience strong itching, rash, and discomfort in the anus and also abdominal pain.
Pinworms and tapeworms may be unpleasant but mostly do not cause many symptoms (4). They may also complicate as newly hatched tapeworms may move from the gut to other organs forming cysts (5). These cysts may stop the organs from working properly and mostly affect the liver and brain.
Some medications especially the ones in capsules may lead to white specks in the stool. Some people are not able to digest the capsule and it may appear in the stool as white balls (1).
A doctor should be contacted in such cases so that if needed the medication can be switched.
Gallstones do not cause white specks in the stool. However, they block the bile duct which may restrict the flow of bile from the liver to the intestine and this may cause the stool to be pale or clay-colored giving it an appearance of white or light-colored specks in stool.
Malabsorption leads to undigested food in stool that can appear as white specks in stool.
This may cause the stool to be bulkier and paler due to higher fat content. It may be due to liver disease, pancreatic insufficiency, and intestinal inflammation.
Other than pale stool, the symptoms of malabsorption include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
When to See a Doctor?
A doctor should be consulted if anyone observes persistent worsening abdominal discomfort, extreme diarrhea and constipation, fever, nausea, and vomiting. A doctor can evaluate the symptoms, determine the cause and recommend an appropriate treatment.
Diagnosis of White Specks in Poop
A few tests may be performed to diagnose the underlying cause, which includes:
- Stool Analysis: A sample of the stool is taken to detect the presence of bacteria or parasites in the stool, which may cause white specks in the stool.
- Blood test: It is done to detect any abnormality or underlying medical condition.
- Imaging Tests: Imaging tests such as ultrasound scans and MRI scans can be helpful in identifying any blockage or abnormality in the bile duct or other parts of the digestive system.
- Endoscopy: It can identify any abnormality or blockages that may be causing white specks.
Treatment Options for Different Causes of White Specks in the Stool
The treatment for various causes of white specks in the stool may include:
- Changes in Diet: Undigested food can be treated by making changes in the diet. Malabsorption can be treated by switching over to a gluten-free diet.
- Switching Medications: If medications are the cause, switching to an alternative can prove to be of help. Liquid or injectable medications can also be used.
- Oral Medications: If parasites are the cause, treatment with oral medication can help in clearing them off completely.
- Surgery: This option may be needed in case of bile duct obstruction. In some cases of bile duct obstruction medications may be needed to dissolve gall stone and manage symptoms.
Prevention Tips for White Specks in the Poop
There are several tips in which the white specks in the stool can be prevented. These include (3):
- Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet can help in getting most of the nutrients and avoiding undigested food.
- Switching over to non-capsule medications as they may be easier to digest.
- Practicing good hygiene habits which may include washing hands frequently and keeping the nails short to keep away the parasites.
- Avoiding drinking excess alcohol as it damaged the biliary system
- Sticking to a gluten-free diet for those with celiac disease.
- Eating a low-sugar diet for those prone to Candida. This can help in treating the external infection.
White specks in stool are not a cause of much concern. It is mostly caused by undigested foods that can be easily resolved by changes in the diet.
Other causes of white specks in stool may range from benign to serious that can be diagnosed with the help of blood tests, imaging studies, endoscopy, or biopsy. Depending on the cause, the treatment plan is discussed.
Self-diagnosis and treatment can be dangerous, it is therefore important to consult a healthcare professional who may be able to make a quick diagnosis and determine the treatment plan. Early diagnosis and treatment may help in improving the outcome of the condition and prevent complications.
- 11 Causes of Loose Stools & Ways to Deal With it
- What Causes White Stool & How is it Treated?|Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention of White Stools
- 9 Reasons for Passing Out Excessive Stools & Its Treatment
- 7 Reasons for Passing Out Green Colored Stools
- What Causes Pale Stools and How Is It Treated?