Sticky, Oily, Or Greasy Stools

What Causes Oily Stools?

Oily stools can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'needs attention'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose oily stools, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "oily stools" as a symptom.  Here are three possibilities:
  • Short Bowel Syndrome
  • Giardia
  • Liver Congestion

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
metallic taste in mouth
frequent runny nose
tetracycline use
pain between shoulder blades
negative reaction to coffee
occasional unexplained nausea
slightly pale stools
frequent episodes of diarrhea
major unexplained weight loss
fatty food intolerance
having had a small bowel resection
regular unexplained nausea
... and more than 50 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of oily stools:
Cause Probability Status
Giardia 97% Confirm
Short Bowel Syndrome 22% Unlikely
Liver Congestion 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate irregular stools, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you pass stools that are sticky, oily, or greasy but not black?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Yes, sometimes slightly sticky/oily
→ Yes, often slightly sticky/oily, sometimes very
→ Yes, my stools are usually/always very oily/sticky
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate slightly oily/sticky stools, oily/sticky stools or very oily/sticky stools, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
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