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Symptoms of black poop: Black or tarry stools: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Black or tarry stools: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Black or tarry stools with a foul smell are a sign of a problem in the upper digestive tract. It most often indicates that there is bleeding in the stomach, small intestine, or right side of the colon.

The term melena is used to describe this finding.

Eating black licorice, blueberries, blood sausage or taking iron pills, activated charcoal, or medicines that contain bismuth (such as Pepto-Bismol), can also cause black stools. Beets and foods with red coloring can sometimes make stools appear reddish. In all these cases, your doctor can test the stool with a chemical to rule out the presence of blood.

Bleeding in the esophagus or stomach (such as with peptic ulcer disease) can also cause you to vomit blood.

The color of the blood in the stools can indicate the source of bleeding.

  • Black or tarry stools may be due to bleeding in the upper part of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, such as the esophagus, stomach, or the first part of the small intestine. In this case, blood is darker because it gets digested on its way through the GI tract.
  • Red or fresh blood in the stools (rectal bleeding), is a sign of bleeding from the lower GI tract (rectum and anus).

Peptic ulcers are the most common cause of acute upper GI bleeding. Black and tarry stools may also occur due to:

  • Abnormal blood vessels in the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum
  • A tear in the esophagus from violent vomiting (Mallory-Weiss tear)
  • Blood supply being cut off to part of the intestines
  • Inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis)
  • Trauma or foreign body
  • Widened, overgrown veins (called varices) in the esophagus and stomach, commonly caused by liver cirrhosis
  • Cancer of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, or ampulla of Vater

Contact your health care provider right away if:

  • You notice blood or changes in the color of your stool
  • You vomit blood
  • You feel dizzy or lightheaded

In children, a small amount of blood in the stool is most often not serious. The most common cause is constipation. You should still tell your child’s provider if you notice this problem.

Your provider will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. The exam will focus on your abdomen.

You may be asked the following questions:

  • Are you taking blood thinners, such as aspirin, warfarin, Eliquis, Pradaxa, Xarelto, or clopidogrel, or similar medicines? Are you taking an NSAID, such as ibuprofen or naproxen?
  • Have you had any trauma or swallowed a foreign object accidentally?
  • Have you eaten black licorice, lead, Pepto-Bismol, or blueberries?
  • Have you had more than one episode of blood in your stool? Is every stool this way?
  • Have you lost any weight recently?
  • Is there blood on the toilet paper only?
  • What color is the stool?
  • When did the problem develop?
  • What other symptoms are present (abdominal pain, vomiting blood, bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea, or fever)? 

You may need to have one or more tests to look for the cause:

  • Angiography
  • Bleeding scan (nuclear medicine)
  • Blood studies, including a complete blood count (CBC) and differential, serum chemistries, clotting studies
  • Colonoscopy
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD
  • Stool culture
  • Tests for the presence of Helicobacter pylori infection
  • Capsule endoscopy (a pill with a built in camera that takes a video of the small intestine)
  • Double balloon enteroscopy (a scope that can reach the parts of the small intestine that are not able to be reached with EGD or colonoscopy)

Severe cases of bleeding that cause excessive blood loss and a drop in blood pressure may require surgery or hospitalization.

Stools – bloody; Melena; Stools – black or tarry; Upper gastrointestinal bleeding; Melenic stools

  • Diverticulitis and diverticulosis – discharge
  • Diverticulitis – what to ask your doctor
  • Ulcerative colitis – discharge
  • Abdominal organs
  • Ulcer emergencies
  • Mallory-Weiss tear
  • Capsule endoscopy

Chaptini L, Peikin S. Gastrointestinal bleeding. In: Parrillo JE, Dellinger RP, eds. Critical Care Medicine: Principles of Diagnosis and Management in the Adult. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 72.

DeGeorge LM, Nable JV. Gastrointestinal bleeding. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 26.

Kovacs TO, Jensen DM. Gastrointestinal hemorrhage. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 126.

Savides TJ, Jensen DM. Gastrointestinal bleeding. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 20.

Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

Why Is My Poop Black? 7 Causes of Black or Tarry Stool

Written by Stephanie Watson

  • Iron Supplements
  • Dark-Colored Foods
  • Medicines With Bismuth
  • Bleeding Ulcer
  • Esophageal and Gastric Cancers
  • Mallory-Weiss Tear
  • Esophageal Varices
  • More

If you notice your poop is black or tarry, it might be due to something as simple as a change in your diet or a new medicine you’re taking. Sometimes, though, it’s a sign of a medical problem that you don’t want to ignore.

Even if you think you know why it’s happening, always call your doctor if you have black, tarry stools.

Black poop can be a side effect of iron pills you take for anemia — a condition that happens when you don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around your body.

Other side effects of iron supplements are:

  • Stomachache
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn

Tell your doctor if you notice any problems after you take iron supplements. You may need to stop or switch to a different type.

Sometimes dark-colored foods turn your poop black. These include:

  • Black licorice
  • Chocolate sandwich cookies
  • Blueberries
  • Grape juice
  • Beets

The dark color should go away once you stop eating the food that caused it.

Drugs for upset stomach like bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate) contain bismuth to calm your belly. Bismuth can turn your tongue and poop black.

This symptom is harmless. It should go away once you stop taking the medicine. Call your doctor and stop taking it if you:

  • Have a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears or can’t hear
  • Feel worse after taking bismuth


A bleeding ulcer is the most common concerning cause of dark stools. An ulcer is an open sore on the inside of your stomach or small intestine. Sometimes these sores bleed. This can make your poop dark. Blood exposed to gastric acids turns black and tarry (sticky). This is called melena and is a sign of an upper gastrointestinal bleed.

Alcohol and NSAIDs and hpylori increase your risk for gastric ulcers

Other signs that you have an ulcer include:

  • Burning pain in your belly
  • Swollen belly
  • Burping
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea, throwing up, or having vomit that looks like coffee grounds

Some medicines for ulcers lower the amount of acid in your stomach. Others coat and protect it from the damage that stomach acids can cause.

Call your doctor if you:

  • See blood in your poop or vomit
  • Have trouble breathing
  • Feel like you’re about to pass out
  • Have lost weight without trying
  • Lose your appetite

If you have bleeding in the upper GI tract — the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum — you could have black, tarry stools that are called melena. It could be a sign of esophageal and gastric cancers.

Some other symptoms of esophageal cancer are:

  • Problems with swallowing
  • Losing weight when you aren’t trying to
  • Pain in your chest
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Coughing

If you have gastric (stomach) cancer, you could have symptoms like:

  • Feeling tired
  • Being bloated after you eat
  • Severe heartburn or indigestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in your stomach
  • Losing weight when you’re not trying to

Treatment for these cancers depends on the stage of the disease and how far it’s spread. Options can include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Intense coughing or vomiting can tear the esophagus and make it bleed, a condition called a Mallory-Weiss tear.

Other symptoms you might get are:

  • Bright red vomit or black stuff in your vomit that looks black like coffee grounds
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Pale skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Belly or chest pain

Most tears heal on their own. If yours doesn’t, your doctor can use a heat treatment or give you medicine to stop the bleeding.

Call your doctor if you:

  • See a dark color in your vomit or poop
  • Feel weak or dizzy
  • Feel short of breath
  • Have pain in your chest or belly

Varices are swollen veins in the esophagus — the tube that your food travels down to get from your throat to your stomach. These abnormal veins can sometimes leak blood or break open. They’re more common in people with liver disease.

If varices are the cause of bright red blood in your stools, you might also have symptoms like:

  • Yellow skin and eyes
  • Bruises
  • Swollen belly
  • Throwing up blood
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

Bleeding in your esophagus is an emergency that needs treatment in a hospital. The treatment usually involves getting medicine through an IV to lower the pressure in the veins or a procedure called an endoscopy to tie off the veins to stop the bleeding.

Call your doctor if you:

  • Blood in your vomit or have black tarry stool
  • Get very dizzy or pass out

Top Picks

Beware of saponins! Quinoa Allergy or Healthy Eating

Quinoa is a small, round, grain-like cereal that actually belongs to the fruit family. It is also called pseudocereal. Many people consider quinoa to be a must-eat superfood because it is high in protein, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is an essential part of a healthy diet. It is often included in foods such as salads, black bean burgers, pilaf and soups.

Quinoa allergy is very rare. To date, no allergenic proteins have been characterized from this culture. But for some people, eating quinoa can cause stomach pain, itchy skin and rashes, hives, and other common symptoms of food intolerance. The seed and its shell contain saponin, which can cause these symptoms.

Although quinoa allergy is relatively rare, it is important to recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction and take appropriate action.

Quinoa Allergy Symptoms

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, food allergies affect approximately 4-6% of children and 4% of adults in America. More than 17 million Europeans live with food allergies, and 8% of them are at high risk of developing a potentially life-threatening reaction – anaphylaxis.

Allergy symptoms usually appear immediately after consumption of the product. Some people experience food allergy symptoms within 2 hours of eating quinoa. They may include:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty swallowing and feeling of tightness in the throat
  • Wheezing and wheezing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling of lips or tongue
  • Urticaria
  • Skin rash and itching

Symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction to quinoa, may include:

  • shortness of breath
  • lowering blood pressure
  • palpitations
  • loss of consciousness

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that allergies can develop with age. A person who has enjoyed quinoa without problems in the past may suddenly notice an allergic reaction after eating the food.

Saponin intolerance

Quinoa intolerance symptoms are often associated not with an allergy to this grain, but with a reaction to saponins. Saponin is a soapy substance that gives the cereal a bitter taste and protects the plant from fungi and insects. They also contain toxins that can irritate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and cause symptoms of intolerance.

Research has shown that saponins may help reduce the risk of cancer. Allergy or intolerance symptoms may also develop in response to the protein or oxalates found in quinoa seed.

Plain water will help reduce the amount of saponins in quinoa. Soak quinoa for at least 30 minutes and rinse several times before cooking. This will help remove the natural coating of the grains, which contains saponin.

Saponins are also found in soybeans, chickpeas, amaranth seeds and legumes.

What can replace quinoa with allergies or intolerances?

Barley is an excellent alternative to quinoa. Also, people often use it as an alternative to rice or wheat.

Cereals that can replace quinoa also include:

  • barley
  • corn
  • couscous
  • oats
  • rice

Quinoa allergy can be quite a problem. If you suspect that you are allergic to this cereal, consult an allergist. An allergist can perform allergy testing to determine whether a person is truly allergic to quinoa or is actually experiencing reactions to more common allergens such as milk, eggs, or peanuts.

Although quinoa is not a very common allergen, a doctor should consider a person’s symptoms, reaction time, and any possible triggers before making a diagnosis.

At what age can quinoa be given to a child?

Porridge from this cereal is often given to children with allergies to grains, especially wheat, due to its lack of gluten and high protein content. However, pediatricians do not recommend giving children under 2 years of age such porridge for children. First of all, because of the content of saponins in it. For adults, saponins are not so dangerous and may even have some beneficial effect, but they can seriously damage the delicate intestinal mucosa of a child’s intestines.

Foods to avoid if you are allergic to quinoa

Limiting quinoa is usually the most effective way to prevent a reaction. If a person is allergic to this product, they should carefully check food labels for the presence of this grain in the composition of the product. Quinoa is often an ingredient in salads and is commonly used to add texture and flavor to non-meat burgers.

This reaction may also indicate that the person is allergic to apples. A 2018 review in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that quinoa sensitivity was associated with apple sensitivity in 212 children tested.

If saponin is the culprit for your allergy symptoms, the list of foods to avoid grows. Saponin is found in other foods which include:

  • chickpeas
  • soybeans
  • amaranth seeds
  • legumes, including peanuts and beans

People with allergies can still enjoy a range of quinoa alternatives.

Chronic colitis diet | Sanatorium Gorny

Colitis is an inflammatory disease of the colon. Treatment of colitis is always complex. A prerequisite for successful treatment is diet.

If you have chronic colitis , you should regularly take preventive treatment .

General rules. duration of the diet.

Nutrition for colitis should be balanced in terms of nutrients. The main task of the diet is to reduce the load on the entire digestive tract.

  • General rules of nutrition for intestinal colitis:

  • Fractional nutrition. 5-6 times a day.

  • Give preference to mashed and semi-liquid foods.

  • Food should not be hot or cold. The optimal temperature of dishes is 30-40 C

  • Exclusion of products containing fiber

  • Reduce salt intake to 8-10 grams per day

  • Maintain drinking regimen (at least 1. 5 liters per day)

  • Food can be boiled or steamed.

Nutrition for colitis during an exacerbation.

During an exacerbation of colitis, diet is very important. The task of the diet is to stop inflammation in the intestines, restore proper digestion and eliminate the processes of fermentation and putrefaction.

To do this, it is recommended to completely exclude food products that cause fermentation or decay. With diarrhea, it is necessary to exclude foods rich in fiber, vegetables and bran. With constipation, on the contrary, you need to increase peristalsis and eat a lot of vegetables and cereals.

Dishes should be steamed or boiled. Food must be ground, chopped or pureed. It is better to boil porridges strongly or use special porridges for baby food.

Nutrition for chronic colitis.

Outside of exacerbation, dieting for colitis avoids exacerbation.

The diet is based on cereals boiled in water and semi-liquid food. You can add butter to the porridge. Soups are prepared on the second broth from lean meat. Vegetables can be added in a small amount in pureed form.

You can eat eggs in the form of steam omelettes, steamed fish or minced beef cutlets.

You can drink weak black and green teas, herbal tea. Coffee is not recommended, but can be replaced with chicory. The daily volume of water consumed should be about 1.5 liters.

Diet types:

With an exacerbation of chronic colitis or with an acute form of colitis with loose stools (diarrhea), diet No. 4 is recommended. With this diet, foods rich in fiber are not recommended. All dishes that cause rotting and fermentation are also excluded.

If the disease proceeds with constipation, then diet No. 3 is recommended. With this diet, foods that enhance intestinal motility, rich in fiber, are recommended.

In chronic colitis without exacerbation, you must adhere to diet number 2.

List of Approved Products:

PORRIDGE AND CEREALS: Buckwheat, semolina, oatmeal, rice.
FRUITS: Pears, apples, quinces.
BERRIES: Blueberries, black currants, dogwoods.
DAIRY: Acidophilus, low-fat cottage cheese, butter.
MEAT: Boiled beef, veal, rabbit, chicken, turkey.
BREAD: White bread rusks.
VEGETABLES: Carrots, cauliflower, potatoes as an addition to soups.

List of fully or partially restricted products.

VEGETABLES: White cabbage, legumes, horseradish.
FRUITS: Melons, bananas, grapes.
MEAT: Pork, sausage, sausages, ham, duck, goose.
DAIRY PRODUCTS: Milk, kefir, sour cream, full-fat cottage cheese, cheese.
SOFT DRINKS: Kvass, grape juice, carbonated sweet drinks.
DESSERTS: Ice cream, cakes, shortcrust pastry, chocolate.

Colitis Nutrition Menu (Meal Mode)

Nutrition for colitis should be as sparing as possible.

Food should be fractional – 5-6 times a day. Last meal 3 hours before bed.

Recipes for dietary dishes with colitis.

Sample menu for a day from a diet for intestinal colitis:

Breakfast: Boiled oatmeal with butter. Apple compote.

Second breakfast: Beef steam cutlet. Kissel from blueberries.

Lunch: Rice soup with chicken meatballs. Boiled sea fish. Herb tea

High tea: Low-fat cottage cheese casserole. Apple compote.

Dinner: Meat casserole. Weak tea.

Before going to bed: Compote or jelly.

Dietitian comments:

With colitis, therapeutic nutrition is a prerequisite for successful treatment. Properly chosen diet and its observance allow you to quickly get rid of the unpleasant symptoms of the disease.

“The right choice of a sanatorium is a significant step towards the preservation and enhancement of health. “Gorny” is a resort complex that combines the experience and knowledge of Russian and Soviet balneology.