Why Is My Poop Orange?

Stools that look orange are often caused by a food or medication

Orange stools are likely caused by foods that are orange in color (either natural or artificial color, which tends to last much longer and have deeper color). Orange poop can also happen after taking certain medications.

While it is less common, a medical condition, such as a problem with the gallbladder, could also be the cause of orange poop.

causes of orange stool include various foods, medications, and health conditions
Illustration by Joshua Seong, Verywell

Why Poop Changes Color

Stool can come in a variety of colors. What is considered to be a "normal" stool color is unique to each person and is often a spectrum rather than one single color all the time.

Stool color is affected by the digestive process. As it moves through the digestive tract, the digesting food changes from green to yellow-orange to brown and the final brown color is due to the bile and bacteria that is present in the stool.

Poop can also change color due to food, drink, and even vitamins and supplements.

So, while something out of the ordinary can be a surprise, it is not always a concern. However, it can be. For example, black stool can indicate bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Orange poop can be a sign of a health condition, but having one orange bowel movement with no other symptoms is most likely OK.

Causes of Orange Poop

With orange poop, it's more likely that the color change is due to food or medication than a health condition. Still, any concerns about your poop color should be brought to your healthcare provider's attention.

Food, Medication, and Supplements

There are several common and benign reasons for passing orange poop that are not a cause for worry.

Supplements and medications that can cause orange poop include those containing beta-carotene (which is sometimes found in vitamin A) and aluminum hydroxide (which can be found in antacids).

Foods that can cause orange poop include:

  • Any food with an artificial yellow or orange coloring
  • Apricots
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Collard greens
  • Fresh thyme
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnip greens
  • Winter squash

Digestive Problems

In most healthy people, orange poop would most often be the result of eating one or more of the foods or supplements listed above.

Still, it's important to note what's going on with the rest of the body when the orange poop is happening. This is because there are some medical conditions that cause stool to turn the color orange.

If the stool is still orange when it is eliminated as a bowel movement, it could mean that the stool is not being exposed to enough bile salt, or it is not absorbing enough. Bile is a yellowish-green, and when it reacts with the natural enzymes present in the bowel, it turns the stool brown.

Not Absorbing Bile

One reason that the stool is not absorbing bile is that the stool is moving through the digestive tract too quickly.

This rapid transit could be caused by one or more of several different conditions, including diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or short bowel syndrome (SBS).

Lack of Bile

Another possible medical cause of orange poop is an actual lack of bile. Not having enough bile could be because the body is just not making enough of it. A second reason could be that the bile ducts are actually blocked.

The bile ducts are the way the bile travels from the liver, where the bile is produced, to the gallbladder, where bile is stored, to the small intestine, where the bile comes into contact with the stool. A blockage in the bile ducts could be caused by gallstones, inflammation, cysts, or tumors.

When to Call a Healthcare Provider

One orange poop isn't something to be too terribly worried about because it's most likely from a food or supplement and not from an underlying medical condition.

When you cannot trace the color change back to one of these reasons, it's time to see your healthcare provider.

Also make an appointment for an evaluation if you have ongoing orange poop or if it is accompanied by any of these symptoms:

  • Stomach pain
  • Orange diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness

Diagnostic Tests

A physician will most likely first ask about diet, especially orange or red foods, and then move on to determine if other tests are needed to find out what's causing the orange stool.

The tests that a doctor will run are going to be dependent on the symptoms that are happening along with the orange stool. Blood tests and stool tests might be some of the first tests done.

If it's suspected that there is a digestive condition behind the orange poop, it may be necessary to get a referral to a gastroenterologist, who is a specialist in digestive disease. A gastroenterologist may order other tests based on what the problem might be, such as computed tomography (CT) scan if a gallbladder problem or bile duct blockage is suspected.

A Word From Verywell

Orange poop caused by diet or a supplement probably isn't something to be worried about. If it is stressful, though, consider making changes that reduce the foods or supplements that are causing the orange.

If there's any other symptom happening along with the orange color, or if it goes on for more than a day or two, it's time to look into why it might be happening. Call a doctor if there's any pain, diarrhea, constipation, or other symptoms such as dizziness or weakness.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Smile S. Case 2: Persistent skin discolouration in a child with autism spectrum disorder. Paediatr Child Health. 2016;21(2):67–68.

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Additional Reading
  • ADAM. "Bile duct obstruction." 11 May 2016.
  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "Your Digestive System and How It Works." National Institutes of Health. Dec 2017.

By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.