Why Does My Poop Float?

Although the topic is a little yucky, especially for ones with a weak stomach, let’s talk about stools and what can they tell us about our health. Every detail matters and it can tell you if there is something wrong with you. This includes the odor of your stool, how consistent it is, and its color as well.

Why does my poop float? This is a good question because there can be an underlying problem which presents itself in floating stools. In most cases, there is no cause for concern, as it doesn’t directly indicate any illness or disease. Usually, it is caused by your diet and can be fixed easily, or it will revert back to normal on its own.

The Usual Suspects

The most common reasons for floating stools are bad absorption of nutrients from food, known as malabsorption, and having too much gas in the stool, which reduces the density of the stool and makes it float.

The body needs to fully absorb and digest the nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract. Not doing so causes bad absorption of nutrients, and digestion is facilitated by intestinal bacteria.

They usually digest polysaccharides and sugars, creating additional gas in the process. The gas consists of methane and hydrogen. If the lower intestine carries the load and digests most of the food, all the excess gas will have to find a way out. It can be released in the form of floating poop or flatulence, commonly known as passing the wind or farting.

Another cause for malabsorption can be diarrhea because it makes the intestines contract in higher frequencies and move stool along too fast. If malabsorption is severe, the floating stool will also be very greasy and it may smell horrendous.

Malabsorption can also occur due to a gastrointestinal tract infection. These infections can be a result of bacterial or viral infections. In most cases, they go away on their own.

Finally, malabsorption can be caused by lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar present in all dairy products. People who are intolerant to lactose cannot digest It. When they consume dairy products, it can lead to diarrhea or gassy and floating stools.

Foods that Cause Poop to Float

Foods that make you gassy usually make your stool float. They usually have a lot of fiber, sugar, lactose or starch. Here are some of those foods:

  • All types of soda, energy drinks, and flavored water. The so-called sports drinks are not that healthy despite their name.
  • All sorts of legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts) make you gassy.
  • Cabbage also makes you pass wind one way or the other.
  • Dairy products – all sorts of milk, cheese and yogurts, especially the full-fat types, can interact with your digestion, especially if you are lactose intolerant.

Diseases Can Cause Poop to Float as Well

Why does my poop float? In case you are wondering, you should know that most of the time there isn’t any cause for alarm if you notice you have floating poop, but in some scenarios, it can a good tell that something is wrong with you. Here are some of the diseases which come to mind when you have floating poop:

  • Short bowel syndrome – This condition is associated with malabsorption; it happens when your body has trouble with nutrient absorption. Sometimes short bowel syndrome is caused by missing part of the small intestine, whether it was removed during surgery or a genetic flaw. Other cause can be an intestinal disease.
  • Cystic fibrosis – This disease is inherited and often turns out to be fatal. Cystic fibrosis makes your digestive tract and your lungs produce a lot of thick mucus. If the mucus gets to the pancreas the result is improper nutrient absorption, accompanied by poop that floats. Unfortunately, this disease has no cure. Some medications can help to reduce the symptoms of the disease, floating poop included.
  • Celiac disease – This is an autoimmune disease which causes your immune system to attack the lining of your small intestine if you eat gluten. Nowadays gluten has a very bad reputation and this is one of the reasons for it. Celiac disease has no cure, but you can easily get rid of the symptoms by staying away from products which contain gluten. Read the label on wheat products, as they are usually full of gluten.

The following genetic diseases can cause your poop to float, but they are really rare:

  • Disaccharides deficiency is a disease which causes you to have less or no enzymes used for breaking down various types of starch and sugar.
  • Bassen-Kornzweig syndrome is a type of genetic disease that makes your intestines unable to absorb fats.
  • Biliary atresia makes it harder for intestines to absorb fat, even though they can still do it. It affects the development of bile ducts.

Treatment

As previously mentioned, the problem with floating stool often resolves itself without any medical intervention. Any necessary treatment will be dependent on the underlying cause of your stool situation. Thus, the treatments are different. If you have a bacterial infection, you will likely be prescribed antibiotics. In the case of diarrhea, there is some medication for slowing down the contraction of your intestines.

This problem usually has to do with your diet as well, so be prepared to adjust your diet according to the doctor’s recommendation.

Prevention

Floating poop is often caused by consuming food which can be problematic and cause excessive gases. Avoid such food, especially lactose if you are intolerant, and you should be in the clear. Also, keep track of bowel movements and try to figure out what caused your stool to float based on what you previously ate.

Hook, Line, and Sinker

If you’ve stuck around till here, you should have all the necessary advice to keep your stool grounded. If you suspect that your floating stool is a symptom of illness, it is best to get in touch with your primary care physician right away.

 

References:

https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/floating-stools-%E2%80%94-what-do-they-say-about-my-health
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25966670
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-things-your-poop-can-tell-you-about-your-health
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003128.htm

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