Green stools are normal in children. Dietary factors, such as green vegetables or fruits and food coloring, are the common culprits. Although green stools are not a cause for concern in many children, green diarrhea lasting for several days requires medical care.
Shades of brown, tan, green, or yellow are normal stool colors. Seek prompt medical care for red, black, or white (pale) stools since these can be due to underlying diseases or conditions such as GI bleeding and jaundice.
Read this post to learn about the causes, associated symptoms, and treatment options for green poop in kids.
Causes Of Green Poop In Children
The following are some of the most common causes of green poop in children (1) (2).
1. Certain medications and iron supplements
2. Green foods such as spinach and other leafy green vegetables
3. Artificial green food color or dye in green fruit, snacks, green Jell-O, ice pops, or flavored drinks
4. Diarrhea, which may cause food and stool to pass faster before it changes to its natural brown color
5. Infections, such as salmonella food poisoning and stomach flu, and other intestinal disorders such as celiac disease, which can cause green diarrhea and lead to green stools
6. Biliary secretion, which can give a green color to the stool. Bile is yellow-green, and if it is not broken down during digestion, children may have dark green stools.
If your child has green feces or diarrhea accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms, seek medical care to diagnose and treat the underlying causes.
Symptoms Associated With Green Stool
Green stool due to food color and other dietary factors may not cause any severe symptoms. However, children with severe diarrheal diseases and other gastrointestinal disorders may have other symptoms. The following symptoms might occur with green poop depending on the underlying cause (2).
- Abdominal pain
- Flatulence (gas)
- Foul-smelling feces
- Undigested food or mucus in stool
- Lack of appetite
- Rectal pain or burning sensation
- Weight loss
The following symptoms accompanied by green poop can indicate a life-threatening condition and requires emergency medical care (2).
- Severe diarrhea for a few days
- Signs of dehydration, such as less urine (oliguria)
- High fever
- Severe rectal bleeding
- Rapid breathing and breathing difficulties
- Rapid heart rate
- Severe abdominal pain
- Rigid abdomen
Not all children with green stool develop diarrhea or other symptoms. You may seek medical care to know the exact cause.
When To See The Doctor?
Seek medical care if your child has green poop for several days despite eating a balanced and healthy diet. You should also seek medical attention if your child has other gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea (3).
Seek immediate medical care if your child develops dehydration symptoms due to diarrhea. Even though the stool color may return to normal, any severe symptoms lasting for more than 48 hours should be evaluated by the pediatrician.
Treatment For Green Poop In Children
Treatment for green stools in kids may vary depending on the underlying causes. The treatment options may include the following.
1. Dietary changes are recommended if the green poop is due to dietary factors such as specific food or food colorings.
2. Green diarrhea lasting several days may require medical treatment since it can be due to viral or bacterial infections. Antibiotics are prescribed for green diarrhea due to bacterial illnesses.
3. Intravenous or oral rehydration is recommended for children with signs of dehydration due to green diarrhea.
4. Iron supplements or medications are not discontinued to change in the stool color. The prescriptions are only changed if the child experiences other GI symptoms, such as gas and tummy discomfort, along with green poop. However, in some cases, doctors may recommend discontinuation for a few days to confirm the cause.
Green stools are usually normal in children. Often, they can be mistaken for black stools due to dim lighting. Green poop with other gastrointestinal symptoms should not be ignored. It is essential to diagnose the underlying causes to plan the treatment.
1. Stools – Unusual Color; Children’s Hospital Colorado
2. Green Stool; Healthgrades
3. Green Stool; St. Clair Health