Many people will freak out when they notice changes in the color of their stool. There is every reason for one to panic when they experience such chances since the texture, color, consistency, and general appearance of stool says something about your health. At times, changes in color can be temporary and not of a major concern. However, at other times, they could mean something serious such as disease of the gallbladder, liver, or blood in the gastrointestinal tract.
In a healthy digestive system, the normal color of stool should be brown. This can vary at times without anything to worry about. However, when you have change in stool color and it persists for a long time, you need to see a doctor.
Causes of tan colored stool
Stool derives it color from the bile, which is the detergent like fluid that is made by liver and it is released and stored in the gallbladder before being moved to the intestine to help in fat digestion. Bile helps in emulsifying fat by breaking it down into small and easily digestible globules for the body to be able to absorb it easily.
The process of emulsification occurs when you are using dishwashing detergents to clean greasy dishes and soiled utensils. Without the detergent, it could be difficult to clean the dishes of the greasy substances. When you have a stool that is tan colored, it means that the bile is not being released to the small intestines in the right amount. There may be little bile reaching the intestines.
An inadequate flow of the bile to the intestines is the same like washing the plates without a detergent. In absence of bile, the body may not be able to digest fats since the body is not capable of breaking down fat into smaller globules for easy digestion and absorption. On top of that, when there is insufficient bile, it also brings problems with digestion of carbohydrates and protein. This is because fat tends to coat all the food in intestines and not just the fatty foods.
In the event that fat coats the food in intestine, it forms a layer of grease like substance around the food making it difficult for the enzymes released to act on the food to digest it. This can result in other symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome and constipation or diarrhea.
When you have tan colored stool, it could be a warning sign of problems affecting the liver, gallbladder, biliary system, and the bile ducts. One or a couple of these organs and systems may not be functioning properly. A disease of the liver such as cirrhosis or hepatitis may impair the release of bile to the gallbladder.
An obstruction in ducts will reduce the amount of bile reaching the intestine. Bile obstruction may arise due to a cyst affecting the common bile duct. When the lymph nodes in porta hepatis enlarge, they can cause the blockage. Inflammation of bile ducts may narrow the passages allowing little bile to pass.
An injury caused by a recent surgery may also cause the gallbladder to fail releasing the right amount of bile to intestines. Tumors growing in pancreas, bile ducts, and spreading to the biliary system could also cause blocking of bile. Bile ducts and liver worms are other possible causes. When you have a tan colored stool that persists for a long time, you should seek medical attention.
Gallstones may also cause blockage within the bile ducts causing little or less amount of bile in intestine. When there is sludge in ducts, it prevents the flow of bile juice. Another possible cause of tan colored stool is a stomach that does not produce sufficient stomach acid. The stomach acid helps determine how much bile should be released by gallbladder and when there is little of this acid; it means that the amount of bile released is less.
Having tan colored stool will be accompanied by intolerance to fat and at other times deficiency in enzyme lipase. Lipase is an enzyme that helps in digestion of fat. When you have poor digestion of fat, it could cause other problems such as dry skin, hormonal imbalance, and poor immune system.
Treatment of tan colored stool
In treating the problem of tan colored stool, the underlying cause has to be identified. Depending on the cause, the right medication is provided. Obstruction caused by gallstones may be solved through surgery or dissolving the stones. Dietary changes can also help in addressing the problem.
In case the problem is with the liver, treatment is aimed at helping the liver to produce more bile or treating the disease that affects the liver. A person who is frequently releasing tan colored stool should go for tests. In most cases, the change in color to tan will be accompanied by other digestive tract problems such as constipation, diarrhea, or dry skin, and hormonal imbalances.