Stools should sink in the toilet but sometimes they don’t because of changes in their structure. The major cause of change in the stool structure is diet. Health professionals have varying explanations of the causes of “floaters” and “sinkers.” Some believe excess fat in the stool resulting from digestive diseases cause poop to float while others blame gas. Read on and discover all possible answers to why your poop floats.
Why Does My Poop Float?
Any disease or digestive complication that changes the structure of your stool is likely to cause your poop to float. Here are the most common causes of floating poop.
Malabsorption or malabsorption syndrome refers to disorders that affect the absorption of certain nutrients including vitamin B12 and iron in the intestines. Malabsorption is caused by inflammation, disease, and injuries. It may also occur if the body does not produce enzymes that are necessary for digestion. The major symptoms of this condition include chronic diarrhea, nutrient deficiencies, and weight loss. If your malabsorption is severe, your poop may float with a strong smell and look greasy. Doctors recommend nutrient and fluid replacement as treatment for malabsorption syndrome.
2. Lactose Intolerance
This refers to the inability to breakdown lactose, which is found in dairy products including milk and yogurt. The body fails to produce enough to digest and break down lactose in the small intestine. The undigested lactose moves to the large intestine and interacts with bacteria to cause symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and gas.
Primary lactose intolerance results from aging, secondary lactose intolerance from illness or injury, and congenital or developmental intolerance from defective genes. Doctors use lactose intolerance test, hydrogen breath test and stool acidity test to diagnose the condition. Treatment options include lactose-free diets and lactase enzymes.
3. Celiac Disease
This is an intestinal disorder as a result of an immune reaction and retort to gluten. Gluten exists in foods manufactured from barley, oats, triticale and rye. It can also be found in some medicines, lipsticks, and vitamins. The celiac diseases damage the villi in the small intestine, which affects the ability of the body to absorb nutrients leading to malnutrition. People suffering from immune diseases and genetic disorders are prone to celiac disease.
4. Intestinal Gas
Another answer to the question, ‘why does my poop float?’ is intestinal gas. Intestinal gas may originate from colonic bacteria or the air swallowed when eating, drinking, and breathing. Other sources include carbonated beverages and foods rich in lactose, fiber, starch, and sugars. These foods include milk, apples, cabbage, soft drinks, beans, and sugar-free candies.
5. Bowel Infections
When pathogenic or disease-causing bacteria multiply rapidly in the gut, they damage the normal intestinal flora. The rapid growth leads to overgrowth. Antibiotics that treat bacterial infections sometimes damage the intestinal flora, which increase bacteria in the gut. This increase and overgrowth leads to more intestinal gas.
6. Pancreas Diseases
The pancreas releases digestive enzymes into the duodenum of the small intestine. Pancreas diseases affect this function, which means that insufficient digestive enzymes are released to breakdown foods. Consequently, nutrients accumulate in the large bowels. These nutrients multiply bacterial that produce intestinal gas.
7. Gallbladder Diseases
The gall bladder produces bile that enables fat-digesting enzymes to break down fats. If the gallbladder is diseased or surgically removed, fat reaches lower bowels. Bacteria consume this fat and multiply. Malabsorption of fats leads to oily or greasy stools. The multiplied bacteria produce gas that causes floating poop.
8. Shorter Bowel
The length of your bowel could be the answer to the question, ‘why does my poop float?’ The length of the bowel ensures that the body absorbs enough nutrients as food moves along the bowel. A shorter bowel means that the body digests and absorbs insufficient nutrients. Bacteria multiply as they feed on the unabsorbed nutrients and produces excess gas. Surgical removal or damage of a part of the bowel has the same effect.
9. Cystic Fibrosis
This recessive genetic disorder could lead to other serious complication and even death. Cystic fibrosis causes major damages in the lungs, intestines, liver, and pancreas. The disorder is inherited and affects cells that produce sweat, mucous, and digestive juices. The damaged cells produce sticker and thicker mucous, which clogs up glandular secretions and prevents nutrients absorption, leading to floating poops.
In the past, people diagnosed with this disorder could not live beyond 20 years but modern treatments allow such patients to live to their 50s and beyond. Major symptoms of cystic fibrosis include salty skin, respiratory complications, digestive disorders, and pancreatitis. Medical treatments include antibiotics, mucus-thinning drugs, and bronchodilators while surgical procedures include insertion of feeding tubes and lung transplant.
10. Other Causes
Besides the causes mentioned above, there’re many other possible explanations to your floating poop. These causes include:
- Sudden weight loss
- Changes in diet
- Genetic disorders such as Bassen-Kornzweig syndrome, biliary atresia and underdeveloped bile ducts
- Disaccharidase deficiency refers to the absence or deficiency of digestive enzymes such as sucrose and isomaltase. These enzymes help the body break down sugars and starches.
What to Do About It
The previous part answers the question, ‘why does my poop float?’ exhaustively. What should you do about floating poop? You should contact your doctor if floating stools last for more than two weeks or are accompanied by blood, fever, dizziness, and weight loss. These are symptoms of a disease or severe malabsorption.
You can treat and prevent floating poop at home by watching your diet. Recording your diet and subsequent bowel movements will help you identify the foods that lead to floating poop. You can then avoid such foods in your future diets.