Black Specs in Stool of adults are frequently caused by undigested food, such as blueberries. However, they can also indicate internal bleeding or liver issues. In newborns, black stool could be due to the presence of meconium.
What are black specks in stool?
Your feces is composed of water, undigested food particles (mainly fiber), mucus, and bacteria. Typically, stool appears brown due to the breakdown of bile by intestinal bacteria. However, there are instances when the color of your stool may change.
The presence of black specks in stool is often attributed to your diet since stool is primarily influenced by the foods you consume. However, there are exceptions to this. Black specks or flecks could indicate the presence of old blood in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
It is crucial to recognize that blood in the stool can be a medical emergency, so it is important to be aware of when to be concerned about the presence of black dots on poop.
The color of stool can be influenced by various everyday factors, including diet and mild gastrointestinal discomfort. Nevertheless, if stools consistently appear black or contain black specks over several days, it is advisable for individuals to consult their doctor in order to determine the underlying cause.
This article examines the potential causes of black specks in adult and infant stool, available treatments, and provides guidance on when it is necessary to seek medical attention.
What is responsible for the appearance of black specks in stool?
Usually, one of two things—something you ate or bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract—can be blamed for the presence of black particles in faeces or while wiping. (GI) tract.
From a visual standpoint, the black specks can have the following appearances:
- Small, thin flecks
- Resembling coffee grounds
- Dark patches within the stool
Some typical causes of black specks in stool include:
Causes related to food or medication
In some cases, certain foods or medications may not be fully digested by the body, leading to the presence of black specks in the stool. Here are examples of foods that can contribute to black specks:
- Foods that incorporate dark food coloring, like chocolate puddings or licorice candies
- Herbs and spices such as black pepper or paprika
- Undercooked red meat
- Undigested seeds like strawberry or sesame seeds
Additionally, consuming foods high in iron content can also result in stool that appears black-tinged, potentially with flecks or specks. Examples of such foods include oysters and kidney beans. It’s worth noting that taking iron supplements can also cause the stool to turn black or exhibit green coloration with black specks.
Certain medications can cause temporary changes in stool color.
Bismuth, an active ingredient found in certain intestinal medications, reacts with a small amount of sulfur present in saliva and the stomach, resulting in a temporary black color in both the stool and, at times, the tongue. This temporary change in color is harmless and typically resolves within a few days of medication use.
If an individual has recently started taking a new prescription or over-the-counter medication and experiences alterations in stool appearance, it is advisable to consult a doctor to discuss these potential changes.
More severe underlying causes
There are instances where the presence of black specks in stool can be attributed to more serious factors. This is particularly true when black specks are caused by bleeding within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or a parasitic infection.
In some cases, these specks may resemble “coffee grounds.” Generally, the longer blood travels through the GI tract, the darker it becomes in the stool. Medical professionals consider bright red blood in the stool as indicative of lower GI tract bleeding, while darker blood is often associated with upper GI tract bleeding. Inflammation, a tear, or even a cancerous lesion can lead to bleeding in the upper GI tract.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use can occasionally lead to inflammation and subsequent bleeding, which results in the presence of black particles in the stool. Examples of such drugs include ibuprofen.
Parasites are organisms that utilize another organism as their host. They can be transmitted through contaminated water, food, soil, waste, or blood. The presence of black specks in stool can be attributed to either the eggs or waste products of the parasite.
In infants, the initial few stools passed, known as meconium stools, are typically almost entirely black. This occurs because these stools were formed in the womb before the colonization of bacteria commonly found in later stools. Some remnants of meconium may persist in the stool, resembling black specks.
However, in older children, black specks in stool may be caused by the aforementioned factors or by ingesting substances that could flake off and appear as black specks, such as pieces of paper.
Treatment Options Available
The treatment for black spots in stools depends on the underlying cause. If an individual can recall their recent diet and identify a food that may be responsible for the black specks, eliminating that particular food from their diet and monitoring the situation may be helpful. In cases where the person is taking medications known to cause irritation or bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, it is recommended to consult with a doctor to determine if it is safe to discontinue the medication and alleviate discomfort.
Black specks in stool caused by gastrointestinal bleeding require medical attention. A doctor will review the patient’s medical history and symptoms, and may order laboratory tests such as a complete blood count to check for low blood counts that could indicate gastrointestinal bleeding. They may also request a stool sample and perform an in-office test using a hemoccult card to detect blood in the stool. If blood is detected, the doctor may recommend a colonoscopy or an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). An EGD involves using a thin, illuminated camera inserted through the mouth to examine the upper gastrointestinal tract, while a colonoscopy utilizes a similar instrument inserted through the rectum to visualize the entire colon and identify sources of bleeding. If bleeding is identified, the doctor may employ special techniques to stop the bleeding. Treatment recommendations will be provided if findings suggest inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
If a parasitic infection is suspected, the doctor may recommend a blood or stool examination. Parasitic infections can typically be treated with medication.
Black specks in babies’ stool
In newborns, the presence of black, tarry stools is typically due to meconium. Meconium is dark in color because newborns haven’t yet acquired the usual beneficial gut bacteria that aid in digestion and bowel movements.
Once babies are born, their intestines gradually become colonized with bacteria, usually within the first few days, resulting in lighter-colored stools. If a baby older than a week has black stool, it is unlikely to be meconium.
Similar to adults, older babies can develop black specks in their stools for various reasons. However, due to the increased vulnerability of babies to infections and illnesses, it is crucial to promptly inform a pediatrician about any changes in their stool.
If a baby exhibits additional symptoms such as fever, vomiting, lethargy, excessive gas, or apparent distress, it is advisable to take them to the emergency room for immediate medical attention.
When to Seek Medical Advice?
It is recommended to consult a doctor in the following situations:
If black specks in stool are accompanied by worrisome symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, weakness, fatigue, or unintentional weight loss.
If the presence of black specks in poop persists for more than a few days or is accompanied by rectal bleeding or significant blood loss.
For parents of infants or toddlers, immediate contact with a pediatrician is essential if other alarming symptoms, such as the presence of black flecks in their feces, are observed.
Seeking prompt medical attention is crucial to ensure appropriate evaluation and necessary treatment.