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Learn about your dark brown stool, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your dark brown stool from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Dark Brown Stool Checker

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Your Dark Brown Stool May Also be Known as:
Dark brown poop
Darkened poop
Darkened stool

Dark Brown Stool Symptoms

Dark brown stool is generally considered normal. However, "dark brown" is open to interpretation and there are variations in color that may or may not mean there is a problem. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor any questions about the appearance of your stool.

The color of stool can sometimes be the first sign of something wrong and is often what prompts a person to see their doctor or even go to an emergency room. Stool might also be called feces.

Characteristics:

  • Normal stool is medium to dark brown, about the color of milk chocolate. This color is healthy because it indicates that:

    • The person is probably eating a good diet, with normal amounts of the nutrients needed for the digestive tract to function properly.
    • The bilirubin levels are normal. Bilirubin is a component of bile, which aids in the digestion of fats. Bilirubin gives the stool its dark to medium-brown color and means that digestion is proceeding in a normal way and at a normal pace – not too quickly or too slowly.
  • Yellow to yellow-brown stool indicates that:

    • Fat is not being absorbed from the stool as it moves through the colon.
    • There will often be other symptoms, such as belly pain and discomfort.
    • Stool of this color should be investigated by your medical provider.
  • Very dark brown to black indicates that:

    • The person has been consuming foods or medications that can turn the stool very dark, such as iron supplements.
    • There is internal bleeding high up in the digestive tract. This must be investigated by your medical provider as soon as possible.

Why does this matter? The color of stool matters because it shows several facts quite plainly:

  • What kinds of foods are being eaten, at least in the general sense.
  • How long it took the food to travel through the intestinal tract. If it moves too slowly or too quickly, this can cause chronic and debilitating digestive problems.
  • It can give early warning of potentially serious conditions, such as bleeding in the digestive tract.

Dark Brown Stool Causes Overview

Foods:

  • Eating more red meat might cause darker brown stools due to the iron content of meat.
  • Blackberries, blueberries, or black licorice might cause the stool to look almost black due to the staining pigments of these foods.
  • A gluten intolerance may cause yellow to yellow-brown stools due to interference with digesting fats.
  • Very dark stools after drinking alcohol may be due to the alcohol aggravating stomach ulcers or intestinal lesions, causing them to bleed.

Medications and supplements:

  • Iron tablets, or vitamins containing iron.
  • Anti-diarrhea medicines contain ingredients that can cause very dark stools.

Illnesses:

  • Constipation: This causes stool to stay in the intestine longer and become drier. These things will make it appear darker.
  • Food allergies: The resultant bowel inflammation can cause rapid changes from diarrhea to constipation, often with dark stools.
  • Stomach ulcers: If they bleed, the digested blood can turn the stool very dark.
  • Tumors or other growths within the small or large intestine: If these bleed, the stool will appear brown-black to black.

Top 7 Dark Brown Stool Causes

  1. 1.Viral (Rotavirus) Infection

    Rotavirus is a virus that causes an infection of the gut, known as gastroenteritis. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and fever. When the diarrhea and/or vomiting is severe, dehydration can occur. Symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, dizziness, urinating less frequently and dark urine.

    You can safely treat this condition at home. Make sure you drink plenty of water and fluids to replace what is lost with diarrhea. Eat as normally as possible. If symptoms of dehydration occur, or you are unable to keep down any liquids, seek care at your primary care physician or an urgent care.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain (stomach ache), headache, loss of appetite
    Symptoms that always occur with viral (rotavirus) infection:
    hidden: gastroenteritis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with viral (rotavirus) infection:
    constipation, tarry stool
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Viral (Norovirus) Infection

    Noroviruses are a group of related viruses that leads to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. These viruses cause gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. When the diarrhea and/or vomiting is severe, dehydration can occur. Symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, dizziness, urinating less frequently and dark urine.

    You can safely treat this condition at home. Make sure you drink plenty of water and fluids (Gatorade, Pediatlyte) to replace what is lost with diarrhea. If symptoms of dehydration occur or you are unable to keep down any liquids, seek care at your primary care physician or an urgent care.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, headache, stomach bloating
    Symptoms that always occur with viral (norovirus) infection:
    hidden: gastroenteritis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with viral (norovirus) infection:
    severe abdominal pain, throbbing headache, severe headache, tarry stool
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.Peptic Ulcer Disease

    A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of the stomach or the first part of your small intestine (the duodenum), which causes pain following meals or on an empty stomach.

    You should go see your doctor in the next few days for a sick visit. He/she will assess the need for certain tests (such as for a bacteria in the stomach and/or a procedure to take a picture of your stomach wall). He/she will definitely suggest taking an anti-acid medication, such as omeprazole, which you can take over-the-counter to help your pain.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, loss of appetite, moderate abdominal pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Dark Brown Stool Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having dark brown stool.

    Take a quiz
  4. 4.Intestinal Infection by Giardia Parasite

    Some intestinal illnesses are caused by parasitic infection. People can become infected if they swallow or swim in contaminated water or are exposed to infected feces.

    You should visit your primary care physician to evaluate your symptoms. It is likely that your physician will want to run tests on a stool sample.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, diarrhea
    Symptoms that never occur with intestinal infection by giardia parasite:
    anxiety
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Acute Stomach Ulcer

    A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of the stomach or the first part of your small intestine (the duodenum), which causes pain following meals or on an empty stomach.

    You should go see your doctor in the next few days for a sick visit. He/she will assess the need for certain tests (such as for a bacteria in the stomach and/or a procedure to take a picture of your stomach wall). He/she will definitely suggest taking an anti-acid medication, such as omeprazole, which you can take over-the-counter to help your pain.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, moderate abdominal pain, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps)
    Symptoms that never occur with acute stomach ulcer:
    pain in the lower left abdomen
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Ibs)

    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is very common problem that affects the large intestine. It can cause stomach pain, cramps, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. Doctors think that IBS is caused by the brain sending wrong messages to the bowels, such as during times of high stress, causing physical changes.

    While many people with IBS try to cope with the condition on their own, it could make a big difference if you talk to your doctor. They may be able to recommend a variety of treatments such as medication, diet counseling, or alternative therapies.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), constipation, nausea or vomiting, stool changes
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Indigestion (Dyspepsia)

    Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a condition that causes pain or discomfort in the stomach after eating. In some cases, indigestion also causes heartburn, burping, and nausea. Indigestion or dyspepsia is a very common complaint. Every year, about 1 in every 4 people will experience an episode of dyspepsia, of which most cases do not have a serious underlying cause.

    You can treat this at home with antacids. Many people find simple dietary changes to be beneficial such as avoiding spicy or fatty foods and drinking less tea or coffee.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, stomach bloating, bloating after meals, vomiting, pain below the ribs
    Symptoms that always occur with indigestion (dyspepsia):
    hidden: dyspeptic symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with indigestion (dyspepsia):
    hidden: signs of upper gi bleeding, rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, fever
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

Dark Brown Stool Treatments and Relief

Schedule an appointment for:

  • Dark brown stool which keeps turning darker, especially if it actually looks tarry and black. The appointment should be made as soon as possible.
  • Yellow or yellow-brown stool, if it does not clear up within a day or so.
  • Any sort of color change that happens suddenly.

Dark brown stool remedies that you can try at home:

  • Eat a diet that is high in lean protein, vegetables, and fruits, and relatively low in fats. The fats found in french fries, potato chips, and other highly processed foods are the most damaging.
  • Avoid constipation by drinking plenty of water, eating a high-fiber diet, and not delaying a bowel movement when it's time to have one.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Dark Brown Stool

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Have you lost your appetite recently?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our dark brown stool symptom checker.

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Dark Brown Stool Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced dark brown stool have also experienced:

    • 13% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)
    • 6% Nausea
    • 5% Diarrhea
  • People who have experienced dark brown stool were most often matched with:

    • 18% Viral (Norovirus) Infection
    • 8% Viral (Rotavirus) Infection
    • 5% Peptic Ulcer Disease

Dark Brown Stool Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having dark brown stool.

Take a quiz