What Does It Mean When Your Poop Floats

07 Jan, 2021

Yellow rubber duck floating in water

Hope floats, but poop really isn’t supposed to. 

So why aren’t all of your stinkers sinkers? And what does floating poop mean? Well, floaters normally mean that your #2 passed through your intestines too quickly, and the nutrients did not have a chance to be absorbed. This can be from having gas, having changed your diet, or even having a stomach bug. But(t) the occasional floating poop is no cause for fear! We’re here to tell you what causes floating stools, and how to make ‘em fall.

Floating Stool: Why Isn’t It Sinking?!

A healthy poo snakes around the bottom of your toilet bowl. It gives us cobra in a basket vibes. So when your BMs aren’t sinking, it’s a sign that your snake may be a little sick. There can be a variety of reasons, ranging from benign to *book a doctor’s appointment*. A floater here and there isn’t cause for alarm, but if you’re routinely dropping brown clouds, it’s worth a closer look.

Here’s the Scoop on Your Floating Poop

When poop floats, it means something is off with the make-up of your bricks. There are a constellation of causes that pretty much center around digestive problems. Unless you’re scarfing down refried beans, it’s likely there’s some sort of tummy trouble causing your poo to ride your toilet’s waves. Here’s more on what is causing your floaters:

Malabsorption

Floating stool generally indicate malabsorption, meaning that your body isn’t absorbing nutrients as the stool passes through your gastrointestinal system. Generally this fast-pass ride through your intestines means the poop will have a high fat content. Just like oil floats in dressing, the fat in your poo makes it float. 

On its own, malabsorption isn’t necessarily a red flag. But some of the main causes are digestive problems, like Celiac disease, lactose-intolerance and pancreatitis. With any of these conditions, you’ll also notice other symptoms -- more on that below.

Stomach Bug and GI Infections

Infections that infect the GI tract, like E. coli, Salmonella or norovirus, can cause floaters. These infections can create gas (which floats), or may change your body’s ability to absorb nutrients (leading to fatty floaters). In most cases, a tummy infection is temporary and doesn’t require treatment. Definitely go hard on fluids and rest while you recover. If symptoms don’t improve over time, you’ll want to get to a doctor.

Eating Foods that Give You Gas

Think of foods that make you fart. The worst offenders include beans, milk, raw veggies, or sodas — basically wherever you’ll find large amounts of sugar, lactose, starch, or fiber. They can create so much gas that it gets lodged inside your poos. Air is less dense than water, so the air-pocketed poop floats. It’s kinda like you’ve got tiny balloons in your poo. Hey Pixar, we smell an Up sequel!

Health Conditions that Cause Floating Poop

When stool is fatty (thicc), it may float. The medical term for this is steatorrhea, and it’s got a few origin stories. Here are a few possible reasons your stool is light.

Celiac Disease

Celiac is an autoimmune disease that damages the lining of the small intestine whenever gluten is ingested. Gluten is a group of proteins that exists in grains like wheat, rye and barley. Folks afflicted with Celiac may experience other digestive symptoms, like bloating and indigestion, diarrhea or nausea. 

Cystic Fibrosis

A disease that causes an overproduction of mucus in the digestive tract and lungs. The mucus throughout the pancreas prevents the full absorption of nutrients from stools, which can result in fatty poos that float.

Short Bowel Syndrome

Essentially, some portion of the intestines are AWOL. That is to say, a part of the small or large intestines aren’t functioning optimally, and nutrients in stools aren’t being fully absorbed in their digestive journey.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is a sugar in dairy products, and your body needs an enzyme called lactase to process dairy properly. Not having enough lactase is the most common cause of malabsorption. With lactose-intolerance, you’re likely to experience bloating and/or diarrhea when you go hard on cheese dips, fettuccine alfredo and other creamy milky concoctions.

Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a large gland next to the stomach that generates digestive juices. When the juices start digesting the pancreas, that’s pancreatitis. Your pancreas isn’t designed to be digested! The damage this causes to the pancreas results in malabsorption. In this case, alongside floating stools, you’ll notice nausea, vomiting and unexpected weight loss.

When to See a Doctor

If peering at your poop reveals floating stools on the reg, you are likely experiencing malabsorption. Say you see buoyant BMs a few times a week for more than a month. Then, it may be time to visit your doctor. They’ll conduct tests to discover the underlying causes of these floating BMs, and may test you to determine what vitamins and minerals you are deficient in. 

If you are only spotting a brown cloud every now and again, your gassy foods are to blame. Rather than a doctor’s visit, it’s time to lay off the beans. And if you’re looking to feel more comfortable on the John, upgrade your pooping position with a TUSHY Ottoman.

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