Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What is White Diarrhea?
This medical condition can be a sign of a buildup of bile in your body or an autoimmune disorder. It is a sign or symptom that something can be seriously wrong and you should talk to your physician immediately to see what is causing it in order to rule out any potentially life threatening health problems, especially in children.
When you have white diarrhea it can be one of two types which include:
- Acute – short term
- Chronic – long term, which is the type that can be associated with certain medical conditions.
White Diarrhea Symptoms
When a person has diarrhea their stools will be white, loose, and watery. A person may also experience:
- Abdominal cramps and/or pain
- They may have a foul smell
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Becoming dehydrated
Causes of White Diarrhea
When a person has a bowel movement or diarrhea it is normally brown in color because of the indigestion of bile salts. If the bile salts, which are stored in your gallbladder and made by your liver, are significantly reduced or absent it can make your stool, or diarrhea, appear whitish in color. You can also have it after taking certain medications or having x-ray studies of your digestive tract and receiving barium before the tests.
Some of the medical condition that is related to bile salts that can cause white diarrhea can include having:
- Abnormal bile duct development that is present at birth and is called Biliary Atresia
- Inflammation of the bile ducts in your liver called Biliary cirrhosis
- A narrowing of the common bile duct called Biliary stricture
- Scarring of your liver due to chronic liver damage called cirrhosis
- Tumors or cancer of your liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or bile ducts
- Liver inflammation or infection called hepatitis
- Bile duct scarring and inflammation called sclerosing
Having white diarrhea can also be caused by certain substances or conditions such as:
- The ingredient aluminum hydroxide which is an ingredient that is found in antacids like Alu-Tab and some formulations of Mylanta and Maalox
- The white substance that can be used in an enema or be swallowed to help outline your digestive tract on an x-ray called barium.
- Candida overgrowth in your large intestine
There are also some life threatening or serious medical conditions that could cause a person to have white diarrhea which can include having:
- Acute cholecystitis which is a sudden swelling and inflammation of your gallbladder
- Acute hepatitis
- Pancreatitis which is inflammation of your pancreas
- Liver failure
- Pancreatic cancer
- Severe inflammation of your small intestine which can occur from severe food poisoning, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or tuberculosis
In order to treat white diarrhea you need to first find out what is causing it and treat the medical condition. In time your white diarrhea will go away. You should also follow a low-fat diet to help eliminate your diarrhea.
Other things that you can do to help with your case of white diarrhea can include:
- Avoid milk products
- No eating for twenty-four hours if your case of white diarrhea is moderate to severe and only drink lukewarm clear liquids. As your white diarrhea starts to turn into stool you can slowly add soft foods.
- Take over-the-counter ant-diarrheal medications but first check with your physician if you are taking any medicine to make sure that the ant-diarrheal will not interfere with your medication.
- Drink plenty of fluids in order to prevent dehydration such as water, weak tea, Gatorade, flat soda drinks like ginger ale, and are decaffeinated, fruit juices but not prune or apple. Make sure whatever you are drinking is cool and sip it instead of drinking it all at once to make it easier for your stomach to digest.
- Eat yogurt with live cultures that will help to protect your intestines and kill off nasty bacteria.
- If you are experiencing cramping use a heating pad on your stomach but make sure that it is not too hot.
You could also follow the BRAT diet which is bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. You should make sure that you wash your hands frequently, especially after each time you go to the bathroom to help reduce the chance of transmitting the disease to others.