Poop of any unusual color is generally the direct result of a certain type of food or drink that one had consumed earlier, but in certain cases they could also be an indication of a serious health problem which might need immediate medical attention. Purple poop is not an impossible occurrence although it certainly is not common.
What causes poop to turn purple?
1. Food items rich in oxalic acid
2. Artificial colorant — Consumption of food items and drinks that have a good deal of artificial coloring as well as preservatives (edible jellies, candies, Kool Aid and aerated drinks to name a few) on them might also lead to this particular kind of poop. Although the purple color in the excreta caused by these artificial colorants is not something to worry about, doctors advice against the consumption of these food food items as they are known for damaging the body in the long run.
3. Supplements — Some of us regularly consume vitamin supplements in order to make up for what we might lack in our diet. These supplements, particularly iron pills might in some cases be the reason behind the occurrence of purple poop.
4. Antidepressants — Those who are on psychiatric medication may experience purple poop because antidepressants such as amitriptyline or imipramine may cause blackish purple excreta in some people.
5. Drugs — Hydromorphone, codeine, oxycodone and other sedatives are known to cause constipation and dark stool. Even anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen might also lead to unusual colors in excreta.
6. Irritable bowel syndrome — Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is sometimes a result of blood stagnation which is often accompanied by excruciating pain in the abdomen. At times, this may lead to dark or purplish poop. The pain originates from the intestines as the blood stagnation in that area is mainly responsible for it.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is also called the Qi stagnation syndrome. The symptom is associated with distending pain and a bloating sensation even though there may not be any actual enlargement of the intestines or any other parts of the digestive system. The bloating is more often than not, brought on due to the presence of gas. This gas is generally neutral in smell. Sharp pain could also be brought on by a lack of heat in the intestines. The spleen needs heat to function and if it’s not there, the organ finds it difficult to help with the digestive procedures, leading to a common symptom of IBD, diarrhea. It is not easy to pin point how the cold gets inside the digestive system but once it’s in, it may remain dormant for days or even months before manifesting itself.
7. Hematochezia — Hematochezia usually leads to red poop but in some cases the color may vary from bright red to darkish purple. The common cause of hematochezia is the presence of hemorrhoids, a condition that makes the veins around the rectum or the anus swell up. This condition is accompanied by abdominal pain, itching, painful bowel movements and colored excreta, due to the presence of blood in it. Tumors may also lead to internal bleeding in the bowels as they tend to bleed on occasions. Anal fissures involve a tear in the lining of the canal of the anus and may cause bleeding as well. This occurs mainly in the middle age and is accompanied by anal lumps, reddish or purplish poop and sharp pain. The diverticula of the colon might cause diverticular bleeding; however, unlike the others mentioned earlier, this condition does not need medical attention unless it persists for a long time.
Purple poop in infants
The color of poop in infants may vary from yellow to green to even purple. The causes might not be alarming, because mostly the reason is their infantile diet. Therefore, if a baby excretes purple poop, it should be checked if he/she had consumed anything earlier that contained oxalic acid, like blueberries, dragon fruit, beets, chocolate, rhubarb etc. Baby vitamins, supplements and other medications can also be responsible for the purple poop, but if nothing adds up, then consulting a pediatrician is advised.
How to prevent it?
One should first properly diagnose the exact reason behind the appearance of purple poop before determining a course of treatment. If it is brought on because of something that he/she ate earlier, that food should be avoided in the future in order to prevent the occurrence of purple poop. Artificial colors, preserved food items and drinks which have had a similar effect on the concerned person earlier should also be on his/her “to avoid” list.
Even if the reason is a disease or a disorder, the exact diagnosis must at first be done. One should remember that purple poop often indicates the same diseases that red or orange poop indicate, which means that all of these colors may actually vary depending on a multitude of aspects, but the reason remains the same; internal bleeding. In order to prevent bleeding from piles or hemorrhoids, one must follow a diet that is designed to counter constipation. Fruits, vegetables and lots of water on a daily basis should help one in that goal. Internal tumors or cancers on the other hand would require more intense forms of treatment in order for the bleeding to stop.