As we all know, our bowel movements, stool, poop, or whatever you choose to call it, have many different ‘types’. Factors such as diet, overall health, foods we eat, and many other reasons contribute to the color of poop. One possible and rather common color is black.
Most likely at some point in our lives, we will be subject to the somewhat alarming anomaly known as black poop. Before you run to the doctor’s or the nearest medical journal, however, consider that many common factors could be to blame – many of which have no adverse effect on one’s health. If it becomes a repeated occurrence, however, of course consult your doctor, as it may be something requiring medical attention.
There are many common causes of black poop. Medication and dietary supplements could be to blame. If you are taking iron supplements for an existing medical condition, it is frequently taken in a high dose that your body finds difficult to process completely. Pepto Bismol and other commonly consumed indigestion medications contain bismuth subsalicylate, a substance that can darken stool considerably. Even non-steroidal drugs used as anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can cause black poop in some cases. Calcium blocking drugs, anticonvulsants, and narcotic pain medications like hydromorphone, codeine, oxycodone sometimes cause constipation, which as we all know can be a contributing factor in making one’s poop a very dark color, frequently appearing almost black. When in doubt, check the labels on any medication or supplements you may be taking, or ask your doctor if something doesn’t look quite right.
A cause of concern could be from a bleeding peptic ulcer. In such cases, the intestinal tract holds red blood cells long enough for them to be digested and color the stool black. This medical condition is known as melena, and whiles not a medical emergency, definitely warrants an examination.
Food and changes in diet can be another cause of black poop. As the saying goes, you are what you eat, and ‘you’ includes one’s poop, of course! Foods such as blueberries, black liquorice, and beetroots can make poop appear a very dark green or blue, almost black. Some foods that are comprised largely of animal blood like black pudding could be the cause also. Similarly, if you’ve had a nose bleed and swallowed more blood than you intended, that could be the culprit. Eating a lot of green leafy vegetables such as spinach could be another contributing factor, as the increased consumption of chlorophyll causes a darkening of the stool. Summarily, if you’re seeing a change in the toilet, consider first what you’ve eaten before jumping to dire conclusions!