What Does It Mean When Your Poop Floats

Changing your diet. Sometimes, preventing floating poop can be as easy as changing your diet, since floating poop can be caused by eating foods that cause you to have more gas.

What to Know About Floating Stools

Normally, floating stools aren’t a cause for concern. Read on to learn more about why stools float, what floating stools say about your health, and more.

What Are Floating Stools?

When stools float, it means the poop stays on the surface of the toilet water instead of sinking. Normally, poop sinks to the bottom of the toilet bowl.

Floating poop doesn’t mean you’re sick, but it can be a symptom of various conditions.

Why Would Stools Float?

There are several reasons why poop floats and never seems to sink.

Too much gas. You may have too much gas in you due to your diet, which can make your stools float.

Some people think that floating poop is caused by fat, but it’s usually caused by gas. Research has indicated that once floating stools were degassed, they weighed the same as sinking poop. This indicates that gas was responsible for making floating stools float, rather than fat inside the poop.

Gas in your digestive system is usually caused when you swallow air or eat certain types of foods that break down into gas.

If you eat a high-fiber diet with a lot of vegetables and fruits, you may get floating stools because digesting high-fiber foods releases more air during digestion. This leads to air or gas being trapped in the stool, making it float in the toilet bowl.

Medical conditions. If your poop floats, there’s a slight chance you have steatorrhea, which means you have too much fat in your poop. Steatorrhea indicates you can’t absorb fat properly, and it can be a symptom of the following conditions:

  • Celiac disease
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) due to cystic fibrosis and chronic pancreatitis
  • Diseases affecting small intestines such as tropical sprue, Whipple disease, and lymphoma
  • Bile acid deficiency
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You may also have the following conditions if you have floating poop:

  • Gastrointestinal infection
  • Malabsorption, which means you’re not absorbing nutrients as well as you should

When To See a Doctor

Floating stools don’t necessarily mean you have an underlying health condition. To determine if a health condition is causing this, you should be on the lookout for other indicators.

If your floating stools are smelly, sticky, or bloody, for example, you should see a doctor. Your doctor will give you a proper diagnosis and walk you through the process of understanding your condition if you have one. Here’s a closer look at what might cause these symptoms.

Smelly and sticky stools. Smelly and sticky stools are typically a symptom of nutrient malabsorption. This means your body isn’t able to completely absorb and digest nutrients from your gastrointestinal tract due to damage to the small intestine, not having enough pancreatic enzymes, liver disease, HIV/AIDs, or other conditions.

If your floating stools are smelly and appear sticky, you should contact your doctor.

Blood in your stool. If your floating poop is accompanied by blood, it could be caused by:

  • Bleeding in your anus or rectum
  • Cancer of your digestive system
  • Blood vessel abnormalities
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis
  • Ulcers in the stomach or small intestine
  • Polyps
  • Diverticulitis

If you find blood in your stools, you should see a doctor. If you’re experiencing weight loss, dizziness, or fever in addition to finding blood in your stools, you should talk to your doctor immediately. You should also get emergency medical help if there is a lot of blood in your poop, or if it is maroon or black and tarry.

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Your doctor will be able to determine what is the exact cause of bloody poop through imaging tests and physical exams.

Treatment

When you visit your doctor, they will likely ask you several questions about your medical history and your current health to determine why you have floating stools. They will also ask you about your diet and how long you’ve been having this issue so they can make any needed diet and medication recommendations.

Prevention

Unless there is a medical condition causing you to have floating poops, there is no need to do anything to treat or prevent them.

Monitor your pooping habits. Always be aware of any changes to your stool and bowel movements. If you’re suddenly pooping more or less, or your poop looks very different, you should report these changes to your doctor. Your doctor will find it easier to diagnose any health conditions you may have if you keep an organized record about your pooping habits.

Changing your diet. Sometimes, preventing floating poop can be as easy as changing your diet, since floating poop can be caused by eating foods that cause you to have more gas.

You should avoid the following foods if you have a problem with too much gas:

Keep a food diary so you can keep track of what you eat and narrow down what foods are giving you gas. You should bring this diary to your doctor so you can talk to them about how you can change your diet.

Show Sources

Azer, S.; Sankararaman, S. Steatorrhea. StatPearls Publishing, 2021.

Cleveland Clinic: “Rectal Bleeding.”

Columbia University in the City of New York: Go Ask Alice: “Floating stools — What do they say about my health?”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Gas in the Digestive Tract.”

‌‌Penn Medicine: “The Scoop on Poop: What Does Your Poop Say About Your Health?”

MITMedical: “It Happens.”

‌‌The New England Journal of Medicine: “Floating Stools — Flatus versus Fat.”

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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