What Are the Causes of Yellow Stools?

Yellow stool, also known as pale stool, may be an indicator of a serious medical illness. There are several medical conditions that may cause yellow bowel movements 34. If bowel movements that are yellowish in color are seen, an examination by a physician may be required to rule out a serious medical issue 3. A doctor will complete a stool analysis to determine if yellow stools are a result of a digestive condition, or if bacterial, viral or parasitic infections are present. The same of the stool will be analyzed to determine its shape, odor, volume, blood, color and consistency.


Gastroesophogeal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD, may be a cause of yellow stools. Individuals who suffer from GERD digest food more rapidly than people without GERD. Digested food enters the gastrointestinal tract with a green color. As food moves through the gastrointestinal tract, it absorbs fats and bacteria and, when finally excreted from the system, it is brown in color. If food moves too rapidly through the system, it is unable to absorb these fats and bacteria and a yellow color results.

Celiac Disease

According to the Colon Cleansing and Constipation Research Center, celiac disease may result in yellow stools 1. Celiac disease, sometimes called celiac sprue, is a genetic disorder in which individuals are unable to digest gluten due to damage of the intestines. This disorder is commonly characterized by irregular bowel movements, diarrhea and discolored stools 3.

Gallbladder Disorders

Several disorders associated with the gallbladder can result in yellow stools. Cholecystitis, or inflammation of the gallbladder, cholangitis, or inflammation of the bile ducts, and gallstones can all result in yellow bowel movements 34. Individuals who suffer from cholecystitis or cholangitis will not produce enough bile for proper digestion, therefore, yellow stools are the result. Gallstones commonly are the catalyst for both cholecystitis and cholangitis.

Liver Disorders

According to Healthy Hype, many liver disorders may result in yellow stools. If the liver is compromised, the bile canals within the organ become narrowed and bile production is decreased. Due to the lack of bile production, stools may be yellowish in color. Cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease, hepatitis, which is inflammation of the liver, and liver metastases in which cancer from another region spreads to the liver, are all conditions that may result in yellow stools.


Steatorrhea is a condition that may produce yellow stools due to unusually high levels of fats. It can be caused by many disorders such as celiac disease and pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. It may also be caused by malabsorption, a condition in which foods travel too fast through the stomach and intestines to absorb nutrients properly.