So you go to do number two, and in the process of flushing, you notice your stool has black specks. What could that mean? Well, for adult stools, black specks sometimes come from undigested food, but sometimes black specks in stool might also signify something is wrong. However, black poop can be meconium in newborn babies.
Everyday factors such as diet or mild gastrointestinal distress may influence the color of the stool. Nonetheless, a person should see a physician and figure out the trigger if stools turn black or have black specks for several days.
For this article, we look at the causes of black specks, treatments, and when to see a doctor in adult and baby stools.
What are black specks in stool?
Your stool is a mixture of water, undigested food (mostly fiber), mucus, and bacteria. Because of the presence of bile that is broken down by the intestinal bacteria, the stool is usually brown. There are times, though when the color of your stool may change.
Because stool is mostly the product of the foods you eat, black stool specks are usually the result of your diet. However, there are some exceptions. Black specks or flecks in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract may be old blood. And blood in the stool can be a medical emergency, understanding when to worry about black specks in the stool is essential.
Healthy bowel movements are usually a medium brown color, and in shape are long and smooth. There is no pain when doing number two. When the stool is light in color, black specks are more noticeable than when it is darker.
The black specks may look visually like dark patches in the stool, or small thin flecks.
Common causes of black specks in the stool
5 common causes of black specks in the stool may include:
Many foods are more difficult to digest than others, such as skins or fruit seeds. The following foods can leave the stool with black specks: blackberries, blueberries, black beans, and plums.
Food coloring may also cause the stool to change color, as the body may have difficulty digesting artificial coloring. Black licorice, for example, can turn the stool black or very dark brown.
This condition is not necessarily a problem, though if it lasts, it could imply that a person eats an unbalanced diet.
Some medicines can change the stool’s color temporarily. In some intestinal drugs, Bismuth, an active ingredient, combines with the small amount of sulfur in the saliva and stomach of a patient to briefly add black color to the stool and sometimes the tongue. The transient change of color is harmless and should vanish within a couple of days of using the drug.
If you have recently begun to take a new or more prescription-the-counter drug, you should consult a doctor about possible stool changes.
Iron supplements, or food rich in iron, will turn black on the stool. A sudden change may mean a person gets too much iron. Black stools in a child may indicate too many iron pills being taken.
Problem with the liver
A person suffering from liver disease may pass out black specks in the stool because the disease can cause bleeding in the patient’s digestive tract. This complication is called esophageal varices or portal hypertension.
Bleeding may render the feces look black in the gastrointestinal tract, such as in the abdomen or intestines. The blood tends to be darker if the bleeding occurs higher up in the digestive system.
However, an individual should see their doctor if they are experiencing the following symptoms:
- Blood in the stool
- Black, tarry stools
- Stomach pain
- Rapid heart rate
Black specks in babies’ stool
“Meconium” is usually the cause of black, tarry stools in newborns. A newborn’s stool is dark because they do not yet possess the usual friendly gut bacteria that helps people digest their food and have bowel movements.
Once the baby leaves the womb, bacteria colonize their intestines, usually in the first days after birth, and the stools gradually become lighter. Black stool in a baby over a week is unlikely to be meconium.
For the same reasons as adults, older babies may develop black specks in their stools. Because babies are more susceptible to infections and diseases than adults, it is necessary to alert a pediatrician of changes in their stools immediately.
FOR BABIES: When to take a baby to see the doctor for black specks in stool
A baby should be taken to see a doctor if, in addition to black stools, they also show signs of:
- Apparent distress
A physician should see newborns soon if the black color is not attributed to meconium.
FOR ADULTS: When to see a doctor for black specks in adult stool
People who otherwise feel healthy and have no chronic diseases can wait for a day or two to see if the black spots in their stool will go away.
For black spots in an adult stool, such a person should seek medical attention if they have:
- A fever
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- A history of liver disease
- Signs of a parasitic infection, such as unexplained worms in stool or weight loss
- Yellow or green eyes or skin
Patients who have had black specks for more than a day or two in their stool should see a specialist if they do not take medication that makes the stool black. Likewise, if they can’t explain the color of any food they’ve recently eaten, they should see a physician.
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Treatment for black specks in stool
The therapy for black specks in the stool usually depends on the cause. A doctor will take a thorough history of the patient and may request a sample of the stool.
Imaging tests on the colon, stomach, or other parts of the gastrointestinal tract may also be required. Liver testing will measure the efficacy of the operation of the liver through blood work.
A person with liver disease may need to spend time in the hospital, take medication, and change their diet.
For cases of internal bleeding, being the cause of the black specks in stool, the origin will be examined by a specialist and then treated.
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FAQ ON BLACK SPECKS IN STOOL
What is the primary cause of black speck in adult stool?
Black stool specks in adult stool are usually the result of the individual’s diet.
What is the major cause of black speck in baby stool?
Meconium is normally the cause of black, tarry stools in newborns.
When do you see a doctor for black specks in stool?
Patients who have had black specks for more than a day or two in their stool should see a specialist if they do not take medication that makes the stool black.