Oily and Greasy Stool Causes and Treatments

Table Of Contents

Do you sometimes notice oiliness appearance stools?  What causes it? Learn more about oily, greasy and orange oily stool.


Looking at your stool itself can be totally disgusting leave alone oily or greasy stool. So what could be the problem? Here is why.

1. Gallbladder problems, diseases or bile duct

The function of the gallbladder is to produce bile which aids further in the digestion of food contents.

If you have a problem with your gallbladder you may be affected in various ways in terms of how your stool will look like or appear. For instance, people who have their gallbladder removed and who eat a large amount of fatty food can really face this problem. The bile potentially secretes very little amounts of oily bile into the small intestines.

Bile is drained gradually into the small intestine in small amounts. In the presence of large amounts of fat it is unable to cope with large volumes of fat in food hence cannot complete digestion.

The other problem is gallstone which is blocking the gallbladder then you are likely to get greasy stools after it has been released down.

“Bile is irreplaceable in the proper dissolution of fat droplets that eases the function of pancreatic digestive enzymes.” []

2.Diseases of pancreas

Another reason is the pancreatic diseases.

One of the pancreatic diseases is pancreatitis. A patient with chronic pancreatitis can face this problem. This is commonly known to be is a disorder in the absorption of nutrients but it also includes the fat.

Secondly, the pancreas can be also affected by cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is an illness normally causes secretion of very thick pancreas juice that accumulates inside pancreatic tissue and causes damage.

Another pancreatic illness that will result in fat mal-absorption is pancreatic cancer.

3. Impaired digestion or absorption

The malabsorption, in this case, is due to the pancreatic insufficiency and loss of bile salts. These problems in the release of the bile salts can result in malabsorption.

Certain medicines especially those that block fat absorption or indigestible or excess oil can cause greasy stool.

Additionally, the absence of bile secretion can also cause greyness of stool.

4. Food intolerance or allergy

Paleness, greasiness, and oiliness of stool can also be accounted on the basis that you could be intolerant (your gut cannot readily and smoothly breakdown food into their respective end products). Consequently, this affects largely on how the absorption of the nutrients.

If you have a watery or loose stool with a greasy film this could be one of the indicators of intolerance in the gut.

These may be accompanied by symptoms such as bulkiness, leading to discomforts, bowel movements. Some people have excessive bloating (as a sign of accumulation of gas) and abdominal discomforts.

Such food intolerances include lactose intolerance and fructose intolerance. Food allergies (including milk, and many other proteins not forgetting barley can cause malabsorption which results in the greasy stool.

Vitamin or mineral deficiency

Although said to be rare, certain vitamin deficiencies can cause greasy or oily stool.

If you have been tested for deficiencies of vitamin B12 or iron you are likely to have a similar fecal issue. Keep in mind that deficiency of these vitamins in the body can be caused by another underlying disease, for instance, celiac disease or Crohn’s disease.

Notably, anemia which is also caused by a lack of vitamin B12 or iron can lead to greasy feces.

Orange oily stool

What does orange oily stool mean? Orange oil or color in your stool may suggest underlying health conditions such as celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and insufficient bile production.

1. Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease attacks the small intestines, consequently preventing the absorption of vitamins and nutrients from food.

Common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include

  • Diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • abdominal cramping

Due to the affected absorption, this disease can also be a reason for oiliness.

Crohn’s disease may require surgery one to undergo surgical removal.

2. Choledocholithiasis

Choledocholithiasis is a condition where gallstones are present in the bile duct. Gallstones are made up of hardened cholesterol which causes an obstruction.

This condition may be inherited.

This obstruction may lead to liver damage and pancreatitis.

Common symptoms of choledocholithiasis include pain especially in the upper right of the abdomen and oily stools. It may also cause or be associated with nausea and vomiting.

3. Diet Pills

These pills act by “impairing the ability of your gut to absorb fat”. []

According to the Web site, health information on drugs some of the side effects of drugs commonly referred to by its brand name, Alli, include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Frequent or loose stools
  • Gas with discharge
  • Oily spotting
  • Trouble controlling bowel movements

Consequently, if your body does not receive sufficient fats, this may lead to the released bile salts combining with undigested fats hence orange feces.

4. Eating fish

Certain species of fish like the escolar are known to have large amounts of wax. This wax cannot be digested with the human gut and as a result, it is passed down together with the feces.

Studies have shown that if you have eaten such fishes in excellent or more than enough amounts, you can end up with orange oily color.

5. Eating foods with lots of orange colorings

Another reason for the range color of stool or in the stool could be due to foods which have been produced with artificial fruit juices. Certain fruit jellies and sodas may contain colored preservatives.

This color in the real sense is attributed to those contents which cannot be digested with the human gut.

The body then removes it from the bowels.

4. Other causes

These include:

a). Diseases of the gallbladder and bile tract

Gall diseases can also be shown by an abnormality in the color, smell or appearance of stool.

First, when bile is formed in the liver, it is usually stored the gallbladder. In the digestive process, the bile ducts are important since they help in directing the bile salts which are important in aiding digestion.

Bile salts help in the breakdown of lipids during digestion, therefore, creating a favorable environment for pancreatic juice.

(Orange) oily stool occurs because there is a problem either with bile formation.

For instance, a patient could have a problem with their liver such as cirrhosis of the liver or had the gallbladder removed for medical reasons.

Take, for example, a patient’s liver produces very little bile and then the same patient takes in large amounts of fats. This creates a situation where most of the fats will most likely get down not well digested as a result.

This leads to many units of fat, seeping through the small intestines undigested, and this is manifest by the greasy stool.

b). Other pancreatic problems

We have already highlighted this as a very common cause of oily stool. As we stated, there are a number of diseases that interfere with the functioning of the pancreas. These include chronic pancreatic, cystic fibrosis and pancreatic cancer.

Other pancreatic conditions that may indirectly promote fat malabsorption are exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), tumor growths and removal of part of the pancreas.

Both the structure and functions are altered hence leading to malabsorption or a maldigestion.

c).  Diseases of the small intestines

A disease or problem in terms of the structure of the small intestines means digestion of key nutrients from foods that have been digested would be greatly affected. This is true given that it is the part of the human gut where most absorption takes place.

Any malfunction in the small intestines would result in malabsorption hence this will translate into the kind of stool you will pass out.

While Celiac disease and gluten-intolerance account for greasy, oily stool, surgical removal of part or section of the intestines also means that absorption is most likely to be affected. This can lead to malabsorption of the fats.

d). Medications

Most medications that promote fat malabsorption are associated with individuals who have started a journey to lose weight with medication option.

Certain medications will produce side effects which cause orange oily stool or oily diarrhea (see below).

Greasy stool causes

How does greasy stool differ from oiliness? Although both are indicative of digestive system problems, greasy feces tend to be thicker and sticky (more of the stickiness in cooking fats)

Your stool can become fatty or greasy when there is not enough bile in the digestive tract to break down the fats, or as a result of food intolerance or vitamin deficiency.

This is the presence of excess fat in feces which may be bulky and difficult to flush, it also has a pale and oily appearance and can be especially foul-smelling.

a). with diarrhea

These can occur in both adults and children. Oily diarrhea is more often indicated by the following.

  • Tiny or scattered oil droplets
  • Presence of white or yellow fat

People who have aired such fecal issues to their health caregiver have had bowel movements. This problem can be contributed by ingestion of waxy food types such as the known fishes.

b). Medications

Bowel movements due to medications are as a result of the side effect of the very drugs that are suspected.

Some people who had medications to help them lose weight have experienced a similar problem. The drugs are involved in the breakdown of fats and malabsorption which is thought to be depending on how fats are digested.

c). Medical conditions

These include cystic fibrosis, celiac sprue, inflammatory bowel disease, acute or chronic pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer.

Oily diarrhea is chronic.

e). Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is one of the conditions that affect or easily damages the small intestinal walls. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people with celiac disease have an autoimmune reaction to gluten potentially causing damage to the villi of the small intestine. This leads to ineffective absorption of the vital nutrients.

Symptoms of celiac disease include:

  • Abdominal pain accompanied by gas, pain or discomforts
  • Diarrhea which is constant or intermittently on and off
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Foul-smelling, oily sticky feces

f). Cystic Fibrosis

This is another possible cause of greasy feces.

When is bowel movement normal?

An increase in the urge to go to the toilet is not the only indicator you may be having a problem with bowel movements. But how or when is bowel movements considered normal? Find out here.

Normal bowel motions in adults

If you want to get straight tips on what your bowel movement sounds like, there are two ways to figure out.

Your toilet behavior

Ideally, you should find it very easy to pass out the stool. However, this should and is supposed to occur with a degree of regularity. Though the regularity may differ from one person to the other.


Many times, normal bowel movement is shown by a brown fecal matter as opposed to whitish or reddish.

Any other color warrants close supervision.

  • Red fecal matter? Health resources hint at a problem which could be associated with hemorrhoids
  • Black fecal matter, on the other hand, is closely associated with the ingestion of iron supplements.
  • Sometimes black feces could imply a problem such as affected digestive system, (lack of bile)
  • A black fecal matter could also be a dangerous sign of bleeding in the stomach or esophagus

In babies, toddlers or children, bowel movement is similar to that of adults. One distinguishing feature could be appearance due to the less-adaptive or a bowel system that is still developing to accommodate digestion on their own.

Hue (color in other/alternative terms) in babies’ stool is as a result of what the babies have been given (be it medication, oral vitamins, etc.)

Notably, newborn babies and young babies are more liable to diarrhea than adults. When you notice symptoms of diarrhea in your child, seek immediate medical help.

When to see your doctor

If you have frequent burning or painful experiences especially when passing out stool, report the matter to your doctor promptly.

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Severe dehydration, fever or headaches
  • Vomiting frequently esp., with blood spots
  • Oily stool with blood
  • Red fecal matter or black

Keep in mind that you have to be diagnosed carefully for the underlying condition to be identified or treated accordingly.


  1. Celiac disease – sprue
  2. Pancreatic Insufficiency:
  3. The Pancreas: Causes of Malabsorption. Thilo Hackert, Kerstin Schütte, & Peter Malfertheiner. US National Library of Medicine. Karger Publishers. Accessed online on 7th July 2017
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