Should I Be Worried About Orange Stool?

A man reaches for the handle of the mens bathroom door.
  • Orange stool is an abnormal occurrence that can indicate various underlying health conditions.

  • Certain medications, a diet high in beta-carotene, liver dysfunction, and digestive tract diseases are some common causes of orange stool.

  • Orange stool can be treated, depending on the underlying cause of the issue. Treatment usually involves a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes and medications.

What is Orange Stool?

Your stool color is usually affected by the digestive process as it moves through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Stools that are orange in color are typically regarded as abnormal and they can indicate various underlying health conditions.

The color of these stools may range from a pale orange to dark and almost rust-colored.

What Causes Orange Stool?

There are a number of mild to severe factors that can cause orange stool to develop. Let’s take a closer look at what those are.

A bunch of carrots.


The most common cause of orange stools is a diet high in orange foods, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin.

These foods contain lots of beta-carotene, which may cause the orange color of the stool.

Artificial food dyes—like those found in orange-colored candies, popsicles, and orange soda may also affect stool color.


Certain medications high in vitamin A or aluminum hydroxide may cause orange-colored stools.

These medications include:

  • Antacids
  • Supplements
  • Antibiotics like rifampin

Liver dysfunction

The liver produces a substance called bilirubin that typically causes ‘normal’ or brown-colored stools.

If the liver isn’t functioning properly, it can affect the production of bilirubin, impacting the color of your stool.

This dysfunction may be caused by a blockage in the bile ducts—which may occur due to gallstones, cysts, tumors, or inflammation—or other underlying causes.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IBD is a group of digestive conditions—like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and ulcerative colitis—that cause inflammation in the GI tract.

This causes bowels to move through the digestive tract too quickly, which means it doesn’t absorb enough bile to give it a brown color, and it may appear orange.

Celiac disease

This is an autoimmune condition that affects the small intestine.

Celiac disease is usually triggered by consuming gluten, the protein found in wheat. People may experience orange stool as a symptom of the condition.

How Do You Treat Orange Stool?

The treatment for orange stool typically depends on the underlying cause.

If the change in stool color is diet-related, the best way to treat it is to reduce your intake of foods with a high concentration of orange pigment found in them.

Orange stool caused by medication may be resolved if you switch to an alternative option. Remember to always consult a doctor before stopping or starting new medication.

Medical conditions that cause orange stool may require a professional diagnosis before they can be treated.

In most cases, your doctor will prescribe dietary and lifestyle changes as well as medication to help you manage your condition. Although it’s rare, severe cases of IBD or celiac disease may also require surgery.

It’s important to consult a health care professional if you’re experiencing persistent orange stool, especially if you don’t know what’s causing it.

Self-treatment may often worsen the problem and lead to more severe health conditions.

A white toilet.

Can You Prevent Orange Stool from Developing?

Preventing orange stool can be challenging, especially if you’re unsure of the underlying cause.

However, there are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood of developing orange stool. This includes:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Following medication instructions
  • Getting regular checkups to identify underlying medical conditions

Is Orange Stool a Medical Emergency?

In most cases, orange stool is not a medical emergency. However, in rare cases, it may be a sign of a serious health condition that requires urgent medical attention.

If you experience orange stool alongside other symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting, seek medical attention immediately.

You should also see your doctor as soon as possible if you experience diarrhea, dehydration, and unexplained weight loss.

If you experience orange-colored stool frequently, speak to a doctor, as this could be a sign of an underlying health condition.

Where Can I Learn More about Orange Stool and Similar Conditions?

If you’re struggling with orange stool or you’re concerned about any of your other symptoms, you can speak to a board-certified physician or nurse from the comfort of your home.

Head over to LifeMD to schedule a telehealth appointment.

Dr. Anthony Puopolo

Dr. Puopolo holds a B.A. in Biology from Tufts University, M.A. in Biology from Boston University, and Doctor of Medicine from the Boston University School of Medicine. He also completed a Family Medicine and Psychiatry residency program in the U.S. Army.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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