White Specks in Stools: Causes and How to Treat Them

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white specks in stools
Credit: iStock.com/Nomadsoul1

White specks in stools can result from a great number of health factors. It could mean that you are lactose intolerant, or the white substance in stool could just be the by-product of a chemical in your medication.

Those white balls in poop could also be a warning sign of contaminated drinking water or serious medical conditions like colitis. It might even be bits of lining from your small intestine.

Your stool is normally brown due to the presence of bile, a fluid produced by the liver to aid in digestion. White stools could indicate a problem with liver function, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.

In this article, we will examine the various causes of white specks in your stool along with how you may be able to treat them.


What Causes White Specks in Stools?

White specks in stools may be either innocuous or the symptom of a medical condition that needs your immediate attention. Some of the possible causes can include:

1. Fungal Infection / Candida Yeast Infection

A fungal infection may be to blame for the white specks in your poop. An overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast, for example, can manifest itself around the body in a white clumpy matter. This white gunk can appear on the tongue and cause symptoms like itching around the vaginal area.

This fungal matter can make its way to your stool, often appearing as white speck or as a white gel- or cheese-like substance within the stool.

These fungal infections can often be the result of more serious conditions like AIDS or the side effect of chemotherapy, where the immune system is in a lowered state of function.

2. Mucus in Stool

The white dots or specks in your stool may be the sign of excessive mucus in your digestive tract. Large amounts of light-colored or white mucus usually signal inflammation of the intestines, specifically the mucous lining, as seen in disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis, and Crohn’s disease.

Essentially, the mucus is produced by the body to help fight these types of conditions. The excess mucus ends up in your stool, creating these white specks in the feces.

3. Fatty Stool

Too much fat in your stool can cause the appearance of pale, white-like poo. This is referred to as fatty stool or steatorrhea. Fatty stool happens when your body is not absorbing all of the fat in your digestive system, often due to a lack of bile. The fat must go somewhere, so it ends up in the feces, causing the discoloration.

4. Parasites

The white bits in poo you are seeing may be the results of parasite that has infected your body, or may be the parasites themselves. Parasites like giardia and tapeworms can enter your body via contaminated drinking water and food.

They often attach themselves to the lining of the intestines, where they grow or lay eggs that can later be passed in stools.

5. Certain Medications

Some medications can produce white spots in your poop. Medications containing aluminum hydroxide, for example, can cause the stool to become pale with white specks. The chemical compound is found in certain antacids.

Antibiotics can cause tiny white specks in stool, but it is often nothing to worry about as it is usually the remnants of the capsule that antibiotics came in.

6. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is the inflammation or infection of the pancreas. The pancreas is the organ that creates the enzymes that help the body’s other digestive juices digest and process sugars.

When the pancreas is inflamed or infected, those enzymes may not be produced as quickly or in the quantities that the body needs to digest properly. This can lead to fats and sugars making their way through the digestive system and into your poo, causing white spots.

7. Liver Problem

Liver issues often result in white dots in feces. As mentioned, the liver is your body’s source of bile. When that source is interrupted due to disease, medications, or other medical issues, bile creation may be lessened or in some cases, ceased.

The lack of bile affects digestion, allowing bacteria and fats to be passed into the stool, giving it a pale color and or white spots.

8. Biliary Atresia

Similarly to other malfunctions of the liver, biliary atresia causes a lack of bile in the digestive system. It is a birth defect that causes one of the ducts connecting the liver to the gallbladder to be blocked, stopping the flow of bile between the two organs.

The rare liver disease tends to prompt white, smelly feces.

9. Gallstones

The gallbladder is connected to the release of bile from the liver via a duct. Gallstones are formed in the gallbladder from cholesterol or bilirubin and when they are set adrift in the gallbladder, they can occasionally block the duct that the bile travels on from the liver causing a lack of bile in the digestive system.

10. Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is the small intestines’ inability to digest certain nutrients, gluten in particular. This sensitivity to the protein family causes the immune system to attack the intestines, and the undigested material ends up in the stool, often as white flecks and spots.

Numerous other issues can lead to white specks in feces or, perhaps more accurately, can lead to the conditions that can cause the white spots.

Constipation, for example, may not cause the white spots by itself, but it is usually a sign that the body’s digestive system is not functioning properly. The blockage can allow undigested food particles, vitamins, and minerals to build up. When the stool is finally released, it can be white or filled with white splotches.

Cancers of the liver, stomach, and bowels may not directly cause the white spots in the feces, but they can trigger the health problem that does by interfering with digestion, causing the liver to create less bile, and the like.

How to Treat White Specks in Stools

Treating white, seed-like spots in stool can be a challenge. As is common with many health conditions, the underlying problem must first be identified. If you treat the inflammation, parasites, gallstones, etc., the white spots should disappear as a result.

The first step in this process consists of going to a doctor for a full checkup. They will likely want a stool sample for testing. The stool sample test can help determine what the medical issue might be. Presence of bacteria can indicate an infection. Fatty stool may indicate issues with your digestive system.

From there, the doctor may recommend a course of treatment for the medical issue that you are inflicted with.

White Specks in Your Feces Should Be Examined

Talking about your stool with anyone may be uncomfortable, but it’s important to know that white spots in your stool are not normal. Their presence could mean that you are suffering from a failing liver, gluten or lactose intolerance, or ulcerative colitis. If you begin to see white spots in your feces, you should talk to a doctor as soon as possible. At best, you might require a course of antibiotics to get a small parasitic infection under control. At the very worst, you may have secured a head start for treating cancer or liver disease.

Related Articles:

Floating Poop: The Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What Does Dark Green Poop Mean?

Is It Blood or Just Beets? How to Tell If the Blood in Your Stool Is a Problem


Sources
“Causes of White Specks in Stool, Treatment Remedies,” Health Meds, https://www.healthmeds.org/conditions/white-specks-in-stool/, last accessed August 30, 2017.

Steven Shapin Sick City “Maps and mortality in the time of cholera” http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/bookreviewsickcity.html last accessed August 30, 2017.
“White Balls in Stool,” Enki Very Well, https://www.enkiverywell.com/white-balls-in-stool.html, last accessed August 30, 2017.

“White Spots in Stool,” Health Therapy, October 15, 2016, http://healththerapy.org/white-spots-in-stool/, last accessed August 30, 2017.

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