Light-colored stools, also known as pale stools or clay-colored stools, can be a sign of an underlying health condition. Stools normally range in color from brown to yellowish-brown due to the presence of bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver.
Some possible causes of light-colored stools include:
- Biliary obstruction: When the bile ducts become blocked, bile cannot flow into the intestines, resulting in light-colored stools.
- Liver diseases: Certain liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer can affect the production of bile and cause light-colored stools.
- Pancreatic diseases: Diseases that affect the pancreas, such as pancreatitis, can affect the production and secretion of digestive enzymes, leading to light-colored stools.
- Malabsorption disorders: Disorders that affect the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, can cause light-colored stools.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as antacids containing aluminum hydroxide, can cause light-colored stools as a side effect.
If you notice light-colored stools, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause. Treatment will depend on the underlying condition causing the symptom. Your healthcare provider may order blood tests, imaging tests, or other diagnostic tests to help determine the cause. In some cases, a referral to a specialist may be necessary.