Orange Diarrhea – When Should You Worry?

If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably had diarrhea on more than one occasion. However, orange diarrhea can definitely be a scary symptom.

Orange typically isn’t the color that we imagine when we think of our stools. If your poop is coming out this color, it could be a sign of a serious medical problem.

For example, it could be caused by GERD, parasites, or a whole range of digestive problems. In this article, we’ll show you all the possibilities.

That way, you can determine once and for all what’s causing your stool to turn orange.

Orange Diarrhea 101 – What Affects Stool Color?

Orange Diarrhea

The digestive process plays a big role in what color your stool comes out. But did you know that what you eat also plays a big role?

The color in foods can alter the color of your poop. As food moves along your digestive tract, it changes color.

By the end, it’s supposed to come out as brown. So if you’re experiencing orange diarrhea, it definitely isn’t “normal” from a physiological standpoint.

In fact, most people don’t realize that the color of poop says a lot about your health. For example, if you have black specks in your stool, then it can be a sign of too much dietary iron.

If the stool is coming out very dark, then this is known as a tarry stool. It means that you’re bleeding somewhere along the digestive tract.

Bottom Line: Health and poop color go hand in hand. If your stools are taking on an odd color, then it’s time to investigate.

Foods That Can Cause Stools to Turn Orange

If you’re consuming supplements that are rich in beta-carotene, then it’s possible that this could alter the color of your poop.

Certain medications can also do it. But one of the biggest culprits is food. Here are some foods that have the potential to cause orange poop:

  • Kale
  • Apricots
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Winter Squash
  • Turnip Greens

Additionally, foods with orange coloring or artificial yellow coloring have the potential to cause orange stools.

Take a look at your diet- are you eating an abundance of the foods above? If so, stop eating them for a short while and see what happens to your poop.

If it returns to normal, then there’s a good chance that it was your diet causing the issue.

Bottom Line: Eating a diet that’s rich in beta-carotene can make your poop turn orange. Artificial yellow coloring is also a possibility.

Digestive Problems That Can Cause Orange Poop

If you’re young and healthy, chances are your diet is to blame. However, in older people, a digestive problem could be the primary cause.

If the stool is orange when it comes out, this means that it’s not absorbing enough bile salt.

Why bile? Because bile is the thing that causes the stool to turn a dark brown color. So if it’s not coming out this color, lack of bile is the reason why.

The next question you might be wondering is, “Okay, so what causes lack of bile in the stool?” One potential reason is that the stool is moving through your digestive tract too quickly.

Conditions like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and SBS (short bowel syndrome) can cause orange diarrhea.

Another possible scenario is that your body simply isn’t producing enough bile. What are some reasons for lack of bile production?

One possibility is that your bile ducts are blocked by an obstruction. This obstruction can be gallstones, inflammation, and less commonly, tumors, and cysts.

Shades of Poop

If you’re not eating the foods above, and if you aren’t experiencing digestive problems, we recommend consulting your primary care physician as soon as possible.

But the potential causes of brightly-colored poop don’t stop here. Let’s take a look at a few more just for good measure.

Bottom Line: People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can experience this symptom, as can people with blocked bile ducts.


GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, and is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. It’s just a fancy way of saying heartburn.

If too much bile is returning up your throat, this can prevent your food from being properly digested.

Keep in mind that GERD also puts you at an increased risk of esophageal cancer, so it’s something you’ll want to take care of immediately.

Proton pump inhibitors and/or lifestyle changes can alleviate your symptoms. Note, GERD can cause other strange symptoms like a chronic sweet taste in the mouth.

You might also wake up with a sore throat or wake up choking. As stomach acid moves up the esophagus, it can also damage your teeth.

Bottom Line: Poop that’s coming out orange can be due to GERD. Fortunately, GERD is treatable with medication and/or lifestyle changes.

Can Certain Supplements Cause This Symptom??

Vitamin A

In short, yes. If you’re consuming high amounts of Vitamin A, then this can make your poop brightly colored.

Antacids containing aluminum hydroxide can also be the cause of your symptom.

If you’re taking either of these symptoms on a regular basis, it’s very likely that they’re the primary cause. But if you’re not, further investigation is required.

Also, remember that vitamin A from food can cause the same thing. Foods that are rich in beta-carotene include carrots, cilantro, spinach, and more.

Bottom Line: Are you taking vitamin A supplements? If so, talk with your doctor is this is probably the cause of your symptom.

Parasitic Infections

Although less common, certain parasites have been known to cause orange feces. However, these are usually associated with other symptoms like vomiting, nausea, and chills.

These additional symptoms are a result of your body fighting off an infection, so if they’re not present, it might not be a parasitic infection after all.

The best way to prevent a parasitic infection is to only drink water from safe and known sources.

If you think that a parasite is causing your orange stools, then speak with a doctor. They’ll be able to give you an effective treatment.

Bottom Line: A parasitic infection can cause the color of your stools to change color- specifically, make them turn orange.

When Should You See a Doctor?

How long should you wait before seeing a doctor if you’re experiencing orange diarrhea?

Preferably, you should visit immediately if you aren’t ingesting the foods or supplements above.

Also, if you’re experiencing additional symptoms like pain, dizziness, digestive problems, or weakness, this is when you should contact your doctor right away.

The earlier you contact your doctor, the easier it will be to start treatment if it does turn out to be something serious.

Ask a Question: If you want to ask a medical doctor a question that hasn't been answered in one of our articles go to: Ask a Medical Doctor About your Symptoms

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