Generally speaking, healthy stool should be one solid color and free of any unusual stripes, patterns, or spots. Experts at The Centre for Gastrointestinal Health state that normal bowel movements are brown, smooth (although sometimes with small surface cracks), and are shaped much like a sausage link or a curvy snake. So what does it mean if you do, in fact, notice unusual small, white spots in your poop?
First and foremost, what you’re seeing may simply be tiny remnants of food that have passed through the body without being fully processed. Nuts, quinoa, and fiber-rich vegetables are a few examples of foods that don’t always get completely digested and can show up in our poop as tiny, white spots (per Gastroenterology Diagnostic Center). While these kinds of occasional dots aren’t usually something to worry about, the presence of undigested food in one’s stool may alternatively be linked with an absorption issue, in which the body is failing to get the nutrients it requires. In these cases, in addition to white spots, the stool will often be more dense and pale in color. Patients with pancreatic insufficiency, liver disease, or inflammation in the intestines may be at risk for nutrient malabsorption.
You may have undigested medication in your poop
If it’s not undigested food making up those white spots, it might be undigested medications instead, explains the Gastroenterology Diagnostic Center. This is not uncommon for those who take drugs in the form of capsules, pieces of which can sometimes reappear in the toilet after a bowel movement. This was the case for a man in his late 60s who started seeing white spots in his stool every day that resembled oval-shaped pearls, according to 2017 research published in Case Reports in Gastrointestinal Medicine. Although signs initially seemed to point to a parasitic infection, the structures turned out to be undigested extended-release pills that the man had begun taking for high blood pressure. As a result, the researchers emphasized the importance of doctors familiarizing themselves with such medications as the entirety of the drug’s outer casing may potentially wind up in a patient’s stool. However, if undigested food or undigested medication isn’t the cause of your poop’s white spots, then it may mean that a parasite is present after all.
You may have contracted a parasitic or fungal infection
While the kinds of white spots associated with pieces of food or medications are usually quite small, certain parasitic infections can cause larger white spots to appear in one’s stool. If these white spots are as large as a postage stamp, for example, it may be indicative of a tapeworm infection, explains Gastroenterology Diagnostic Center. Similar to cases of nutrient malabsorption, a tapeworm infection usually causes poop to become white in color. Accompanying symptoms may include weakness, nausea, or vomiting. A person may also experience bloating, diarrhea, itching, abdominal pain, dehydration, weight loss, or more. Alternatively, a fungal infection like candida or yeast infection may also produce white portions in one’s stool.
If white spots have begun showing up in your poop, experts at the Centre for Gastrointestinal Health suggest altering your diet to see if it may be food-related. If you’re taking any capsule medications, speak with your healthcare provider as they may opt to change the way in which you’re taking the drug. Additionally, talk to your doctor if you develop diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain alongside white spots in your stool.