Oily Stool

Oily stool is used to describe stool that is fatty or greasy, which in most cases floats and is large and heavy. There are several factors that contribute to it, such as gall bladder disease, pancreatic disease.

In mild cases, oily or greasy stool may not be noticed for quite a long time. You may only find some greasiness when wiping and floating bowel movements. In severe cases, the appearance of the stool is obviously abnormal. If you are concerned with this oily stool condition, seek medical advice immediately. 

What Causes Oily Stool?

The technical term used to refer to fecal matter that has abnormally high oil content is steaorrhea (malabsorption).

It is instructive to note that fat is usually digested in the small intestines courtesy of the action of bile salts and pancreatic juices. When you have high oil in stool, then there are two organs - the liver and the pancreases - that might not be performing as well as they should. Following are some most common causes of oily stool.

1. Diseases of the Gall Bladder and Bile Tract

Bile is formed in the liver and thereafter stored in the gall bladder. In the digestive process, bile salts are important for two reasons - they break down lipids during digestion and they create a proper working environment for pancreatic juice.

Oily stool occurs with respect to bile in the following ways - either there is a problem with bile formation, which is a pointer of cirrhosis, or as a result of the removal of the gall bladder. When the gall bladder is removed, only minute amounts of bile can be secreted to the small intestines over a short period of time, and if the person in question is ingesting large amounts of fat, then the volume of bile available to do the work at hand will be disproportionately low. This leads to many units of fat, seeping through the small intestines undigested, and this is manifest by the greasy stool.

In the same vein, if you have gallstones blocking the gall bladder, then your body limits the salts breaking down lipids, and the results of this action are manifested as greasy stool.

2. Pancreatic Diseases

This is another very common cause of oily stool. There are a number of diseases that can alter how the pancreas works, and thus indirectly promote fat mal absorption - chronic pancreatic, cystic fibrosis and pancreatic cancer. These conditions may alter the structure of the pancreas or even its secretions, and by doing so to impede its proper functioning.

3. Diseases of the Small Intestine

It is in the small intestines where most of the absorption takes place. A malfunction in the small intestines will result in a case of fat malabsorption. The two most common diseases that are responsible for fat malabsorption in the small intestines, which causing greasy stool, are Celiac disease, where the body turns on the small intestines as a result of the presence of gluten, and Crohn’s disease. Surgical removal of a part of the small intestines can also result in cases of malabsorption of fat.

4. Medication

The medications that promote fat malabsorption are associated with weight loss medication. It is instructive to note that this sort of prescription should be accompanied by a low fat diet meal because in the absence of that, they cause oily stool or oily diarrhea.

So, What the Normal Bowel Motions Should Be Like?

1. Normal Bowel Motions in Adults

When dealing with the subject of oily stool, the most obvious question that you will need to ask at some point is: what is the normal bowel movement in adults? There are two ways to answer this question:

  • Toilet behavior. Bowel movement should ideally be easy to pass. There is a degree of regularity that differs from individual to individual. Healthy fecal matter is brown in color owing to the presence of bile salts. The odor from waste is on account of bacteria that use chemical reactions to break down fecal matter.
  • Color. Healthy fecal matter is brown. Any other color warrants close supervision. Red fecal matter is associated with hemorrhoids. Black is associated with the ingestion of iron supplements or bleeding either in the esophagus or stomach, and cream colored stool is associated with a lack of bile salts.

2. Normal Bowel Motion in Babies

The mechanics of bowel movement are the same in adults, new born babies and young babies. It is important, however, to note that the color of stool can take on the hue of what the babe has recently eaten, more so in cases when the child is experiencing diarrhea. To a child, diarrhea is dangerous because children dehydrate very rapidly. You are best advised to seek immediate medical help if your child has a bout of diarrhea.