General Question

kimchi's avatar

What does black stool mean?

Asked by kimchi (1432points) July 7th, 2014

Hello everyone,
starting from about 4 A.M., I woke up in the middle of the night and had stomach pain. When I woke up, my stomach pain became worse and worse. I also had a headache. Afterwards, I finally had the urge to go to the bathroom to poop. However, I had a surprise – I saw blackish and dark greenish diarrhea.
I don’t know how I got it. I went to a trip and just returned the day before yesterday, is it a stomach flu? Is it something very serious?
Update: After going to the bathroom and having diarrhea, my stomach feels a lot better. It doesn’t hurt anymore.

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18 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

A black stool may be indicative of blood. But it is also caused by medications. Did you take Pepto Bismol or another medicine for your stomach upset? Pepto Bismol causes black stool.

GloPro's avatar

Green is probably OK. Red is not. If you see blood when you wipe go to the urgent care or ER.

kimchi's avatar

I did not see blood when I wiped, thank God.

El_Cadejo's avatar

It could be a couple things. Here’s a nifty chart.

syz's avatar

If it continues, you should contact your doctor and make sure it’s not melena.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Black can mean blood, as @zenvelo said. People think it’s scarier to see red in their stool than black, but typically black should be more alarming. Red blood is fresh blood, meaning it likely came from a hemorrhoid, anal fissure, etc. Black blood means it came from higher up in the digestive tract. This can be caused by a number of conditions, some more serious than others.

I’d definitely see a doctor if I were you, just to be safe. It could be something minor, but there’s no need to risk it. I’ve seen some odd colors in my stool and it ended up being nothing (dietary, most likely), but your symptoms warrant a visit to the doctor.

And yes, Pepto Bismol definitely causes black stool. If you took that prior to your bowel movement, the color probably isn’t anything to worry about. The worsening stomach cramps paired with a headache and diarrhea still call for a doctor, though.

AshlynM's avatar

Might be food poisoning. If the symptoms continue for the next few days or worsen you should go to the doctor.

kimchi's avatar

Yes, I had fish yesterday….

pleiades's avatar

It’s possible you had heartburn, but the poop was from fish (completely normal this happens to me all the time when I have a lot of sushi) or heavy green vegetables.

Or did you have a lot of Oreos for dinner? (No kidding! Oreos will make your stools black!)

Lightlyseared's avatar

Blood that has come from the upper GI tract (oesophagus stomach or small bowel) and been digested by the body is black (not just dark) and tarry, it does not look like normal stool. It also has a very distinctive smell (hard to describe buts its sort of sweet and foul at the same time) that tends to hang around. If this sounds like what you were passing I’d see a doctor. If you start passing it again go to the ER.

Green stool generally indicates that stuff is going through you way to quickly.

sebb's avatar

It means that you are bleeding somewhere in your gut. Go to the doctor.

gailcalled's avatar

it can also mean you ate red beets, red horshradish, rhubarb, rare beef, iron supplemens or perhaps blackberries in the past 48 hours. If it was a one-off and not recurring, and if it were me, I would not worry. If it happens again soon, then I would see a doctor or go to Urgent Care.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@gailcalled Or grape juice, red wine…. Blackberries make my stool darker. I’ve been eating a ton of them lately though

janbb's avatar

Whe nI took iron when I was pregnant my stool was black so I would agree with @gailcalled‘s ideas if it does not recur.

talljasperman's avatar

All colours are acceptable but black and red… you should see a doctor.

Unbroken's avatar

Green could be caused by spinach kale or other greens not being digested well enough.

But i would take some probiotics it will help upset stomachs as well as evening out your bacteria

kritiper's avatar

Blood could be in the stool and you need to see a doctor. Or you have been eating TONS of dark chocolate and/or chocolate covered coffee beans.

JLeslie's avatar

Green can be from eating a lot of green vegetables. Black can be from a high iron diet, iron pills, or even blood from higher up in the digestive system.

What I would do, and this is not advice, and I am not a doctor, is wait a few days and see if I go back to normal and pay attention to what I eat. If it all went back to nornal I wouldn’t give it a second thought. If things stay bad for over a week I would see a doctor. If things get much worse fast, or you develop a fever, I would not wait a week, I possibly would go to urgent care if it became very accute.

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