What Does It Mean When You Have Oil Droplets In Your Stool?

While everyone's poop can be a bit different, generally speaking, a healthy bowel movement has certain indicators that can let you know that everything is working the way it should (via Healthline). Healthy stool is usually brown in color, caused by a mixture of bile and bilirubin, and should have a consistency somewhere between firm and soft.

According to a 2015 study published in Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, stool is about 75% water, with the rest being made up of undigested fiber, protein, and fat. However, there can be occasions where there is too much fat in your stool, either from consuming a fatty meal or having excessive fat in your diet overall (via Cleveland Clinic). These fatty stools are a sign of fat malabsorption, and can be looser, have a pale color, and have a tendency to smell even worse than an ordinary bowel movement. In addition, according to Healthline, these fatty stools can have a greasy film or leave oily deposits in the water. All of these symptoms are a sign of a condition known as steatorrhea and, if not treated, could be more serious.

Causes of oil droplets in stool

According to MedicineNet, steatorrhea can have a wide range of causes, ranging from changes in your diet to an infection in the intestines. If the condition persists, it may be an indication of something more pressing, such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis, or even cystic fibrosis. In general, however, the most common cause of steatorrhea is simply having too much fat in your diet. Medical News Today notes that foods such as nuts, oily fish, and anything with artificial fats all have the potential to cause steatorrhea.

To find out if your steatorrhea is caused by a more serious condition, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, your doctor may prescribe a fecal fat test. This test can either examine a single stool sample to count the number of fat droplets present, or it can review samples collected over a period of three days to determine how much fat is present in your stool on each day. In addition, your doctor may order other tests, including a colonoscopy or X-rays, to figure out why your body isn't absorbing fat properly. Treatment for the condition can vary, according to Cleveland Clinic, ranging from pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy to simply reducing certain foods in your diet. Discussing the condition with your healthcare provider will help you figure out what may be causing your fatty, oily stools and give you some direction as to the best course of treatment.