What does it mean when your poop is floating (2023)

The sight of floating poop may surprise you. But usually it's nothing to worry about. More often than not, it's related to something you must have eaten.

Other times, floating poop can be a symptom of an underlying condition. If you also experience other symptoms, consider talking to your doctor.

Here are the main reasons for this state of affairstype of stool(poop), ways to prevent it and when you should see your doctor.

What does it mean when your poop is floating (1)

The most common causes

Here are common causes of floating stool:


In most cases, floating stool is the result of something you ate that leads to gas. The extra air from the gas makes the poop less dense or packed. This leads to it floating when it hits the toilet bowl.

your intestines orgutsare part of yoursdigestive system. They help the body break down and digest food. If you eat a large meal or something that produces gas, the gas mixes with the stool in the intestines.

Have you noticed that you feelgas after eating certain foods? This is because some types of food can produce gas. Here are some examples:

  • Apples, pears, peaches and prunes
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Asparagus, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and onion
  • beans
  • Fruit juices
  • Apples, pears, peaches and prunes
  • Honey
  • Carbonated and soft drinks
  • Sugar-free candies and gummies

Many of these foods contain sugars that can produce excess gas, such as sorbitol or fructose. For example, prunes, apples, peaches, and sugar-free foods contain sorbitol. Soda, honey and fruit juices are high in fructose.

(Video) Why Does Your Poop Float?

If your floating stool is the result of gas-producing food, there is good news. Your poop should be back to normal after youeat less of the foods that bother you.


Poor absorption of nutrients from the food you eatmalabsorptioncan change your stool. It can make the stool oily, foul-smelling, and float. Unexplained weight loss can also be a sign of malabsorption.

Malabsorption can have many causes, such as taking medications or damage to the intestinal mucosa due to medical conditions.

High fecal fat content

Fatty stool, the so-calledfatty diarrheamay cause it to float. Sometimes this can happen after eating a fatty meal. However, if it happens frequently, it could be a sign of malabsorption caused by a medical condition.

Lactose intolerance

People fromLactose intolerancethey may have floating poop when they eat dairy products. This is because they have a low levelenzym lactasethat the body needs to digestlactose(sugar in milk).

Lactose is not only found in milk, but also in many other dairy products, such as yogurt, ice cream and some cheeses.

Therefore, a person with lactose intolerance may experience bloating or gas after eating dairy,which can lead to floating stool.

High fiber intake

Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can lead to gas and make poop float on water. Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, but increasing it gradually can be gentler on the body. Drinking plenty of water may also help.

Digestive relief for symptoms of too much fiber

(Video) Why Does My Poop Float?

Medical conditions

If your stool often floats, it could be a sign of an underlying condition.

Crohn's disease

Crohn's diseaseis a forminflammatory bowel diseasewhich may include malabsorption that may affect your stool. The cause of Crohn's disease is not well understood, but it may involve a combination of genetic factors and an immune system response in the digestive tract that causes inflammation.

Gluten intolerance

Gluten intoleranceis an autoimmune disease in which eating gluten causes white blood cells to attack the lining of the small intestine. Damage to the intestinal lining can lead to malabsorption and cause the stool to float.

Graves' disease

Graves' diseaseis an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland and can causeoveractive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). Excess thyroid hormones can affect the digestive system and lead to malabsorption.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Along with gas people fromirritable bowel syndrome(IBS) may have floating stools.

2015 study published in the journalEuropean Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatologytested people with IBS. Researchers have concluded that floating stools are a hallmark of IBS. In fact, 26% of the adults in the study reported floating stools.


Gastrointestinal infection can lead to malabsorption and stool changes. For example, Whipple's disease is a bacterial infection that affects the digestive system and impairs the body's ability to absorb fats.

Chronic pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitisis when there is inflammation in the pancreas. The condition is usually the resultgallstonesor long-term alcohol abuse. It often occurs after acute or sudden pancreatitis. It is also associated withdiabetes.

While floating stool is common in pancreatitis, other symptoms may also occur. Abdominal pain, back pain, bloating, and weight loss are common.

Cystic Fibrosis

Steatorrhea can be caused bycystic fibrosis, an inherited disease that damages the lungs and digestive tract. Treatment for cystic fibrosis often includesdigestive enzyme supplementssimilar to those normally released by the pancreas.

(Video) What does it mean if your poop floats or sinks ? | Top and Best Health Channel

Sclerosing cholangitis

Sclerosing cholangitisaffects the bile ducts in and around the liver. It is closely related toulcerative colitisanother type of inflammatory bowel disease. The condition is characterized by inflammation, scarring, and destruction of these bile ducts.

In addition to floating stools, symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Dark urine
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Itchy skin
  • Jaundice


Cholelithiasisis when you have one or more gallstones in the common bile duct.

The condition causes no symptoms unless a stone blocks the bile duct. In addition to floating stools, you may feel pain in the upper right or middle upper abdomen. The pain usually lasts at least 30 minutes.

Fever, jaundice, nausea and vomiting may also occur. You may lose your appetite.

Pancreatic cancer

Thoughpancreatic canceris not common, it is another potential cause of floating stool.

One of the first signs of pancreatic cancer is jaundice, which is yellowing of the eyes and skin. But it is not everything. Jaundice can also be characterized by some changes in the stool. May causelight or gray stoolsand fatty, floating stools.

When to see a healthcare provider

Stools that sometimes float on water should not be a cause for concern. That said, some types of stool changes may be symptoms of a condition that needs treatment. Steatorrhea or fatty stool,it is often caused by an underlying condition.

Consult your doctor if you notice changes in your bowel habits that last more than two weeks. Tell your doctor if you have additional symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weight loss
  • Stomachache
  • Fever


Treatment, if any, will depend on the underlying cause. It may include minor dietary changes or treatment of an underlying condition.

(Video) What Your Poop Says About Your Health | Why Does My Poop Float? | Dr. J9 Live

Lifestyle treatment options

Floating stool due to excess gas is often harmless and goes away without treatment. You already know that diet can play a role in causing floating stools. So it's possible that adjusting your diet could help solve this problem.

For example, some nutritionists and health professionals recommend eliminating one or two foods from your diet at a time. This way, you can see if these foods are contributing to the floatation of your stool.

Your doctor may also suggest itkeep a record of the food you eatAnd yoursbowel movements. The record can help your doctor see if there is a pattern or connection between the food you eat and your stools.

Treatment of the underlying condition

Malabsorption and/or fatty stools can cause the stool to float. Treatments will depend on the original condition behind it. For example, people with celiac disease will follow a gluten-free diet. People with cystic fibrosis can take a digestive enzyme supplement.


If a certain food makes gas worse, you may not need to avoid it. Enzyme supplements can be found over the counter. These supplements can help with the digestion of certain foods, such as beans and milk. Eating smaller portions can also help.

Many foods that can cause gas also have positive qualities. For example, beans contain about 10 grams of fiber per cup and are rich in antioxidants.

Instead of avoiding these foods, try:

  • Eating smaller portions
  • Spread your intake over the day
  • Taking over-the-counter enzyme supplements (which help the body digest foods like beans)
  • Avoiding large meals (which put extra pressure on the digestive system)


In most cases, the cause of floating stool is excessive gas. Some foods you eat can cause gas. The main culprits are lactose in dairy products, soluble fiber or sugars in food. This can be raffinose in beans, fructose in fruit or sorbitol in prunes.

But certain conditions can also cause excessive gas or malabsorption, which causes the poop to float. Consult your doctor if you experience other symptoms or if the problem persists.

(Video) Why Does My Poop Float? | Diet, Absorption, and Poop Density | Deep Dives | Health

Causes of foamy poop


What does it mean when your poop is floating? ›

Most of the time, floating stools are due to what you eat. A change in your diet may cause an increase in gas. Increased gas in the stool allows it to float. Floating stools may also happen if you have a gastrointestinal infection.

Are floating stools unhealthy? ›

Floating stools are not usually a cause for concern, as they can result from gas being trapped in the stool and from a high fiber diet. However, if the symptom persists, a person may wish to contact a doctor.

When should I be worried about floating poop? ›

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.

Does healthy poop float or sink? ›

Healthy Poop Should Sink in the Toilet

Floating stools are often an indication of high fat content, which can be a sign of malabsorption, a condition in which you can't absorb enough fat and other nutrients from the food you're ingesting, reports Mount Sinai.

Does IBS cause floating stools? ›

Conclusion: Floating stools are a characteristic of patients with mixed irritable bowel syndrome.

What is the most common cause of floating poop? ›

The two most common causes of floating stools are excess gas and malabsorption, or improper absorption, of nutrients.

How do you treat floating stools? ›

If you eat a high-fiber diet and have occasional or regular floating stools without any other symptoms, there is likely no need for treatment. If having fewer floating stools is important to you, you can discuss reducing your fiber intake with your healthcare provider.

What illness causes floating poop? ›

Floating stools may also happen if you have a gastrointestinal infection. Floating, greasy stools that are foul smelling may be due to severe malabsorption, particularly if you are losing weight. Malabsorption means your body is not properly absorbing nutrients.

What does your poop look like with pancreatitis? ›

In people with chronic pancreatitis, the pancreas may not function normally, leading to difficulty processing fat in the diet (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency). This can cause loose, greasy, foul-smelling stools that are difficult to flush. This can lead to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, including weight loss.

Does floating poop mean too much fiber? ›

A high-fiber diet like yours produces more air during digestion because of increased bacterial fermentation. That air becomes trapped in the stool, making it a “floater.” Your wife is correct that problems with fat digestion or absorption may also cause stools to float.

Why is my poop so messy to wipe? ›

Common causes include: Chronic diarrhea Constipation Hemorrhoids Crohn's disease The skin of the anus can stick to the stool and make it difficult to clean the anorectal area after a bowel movement. Leaky gut Leaky gut is also known as fecal incontinence.

Why is my poop never solid anymore? ›

Common causes include from foods – especially if something was spoiled or tainted – but GI viruses, food allergies and medication side-effects can also cause them. Some chronic conditions like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome can also lead to ongoing diarrhea.

Can anxiety cause floating stools? ›

“Stress and anxiety increase hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline, and serotonin,” Eid says. The gut responds to these hormones by producing physical symptoms, like watery stools, nausea, or constipation.

What does a fatty stool look like? ›

Fatty poops are different from normal poops. They tend to be looser, smellier and paler in color, like clay. They might float. You might have an occasional fatty poop after eating a fatty meal.

Can diabetes cause floating stools? ›

They found that lower gastrointestinal symptoms – including constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, intestinal gas, and floating stools – were much more common in the individuals with diabetes, especially diarrhea and constipation, which were twice as likely in those with diabetes.

Why does my poop float sometimes and sink other times? ›

Whether your poo floats or sinks depends on the types of bacteria in your gut and how much gas they produce, a new study suggests. About 10 to 15 per cent of people consistently do poos that float in toilet water – so-called “floaters”, while the rest typically produce poos that sink to the bottom, or “sinkers”.

What does poop look like with diverticulitis? ›

Narrow or pellet-like stools: if you have advanced or severe diverticulitis, your large intestine may narrow, causing stool to become thin, narrow, or pellet-shaped.

Can gallstones cause floating stools? ›

When enough bile is not produced or it doesn't reach the intestines, it may result in fatty stool. Liver disease such as blocked bile ducts and gallstones can also cause fatty and floating stool.

Why is my poop so big it clogs the toilet? ›

Extremely large poops may be the outcome of eating a very large meal or the result of chronic constipation that alters your bowel habits. If you've tried increasing your physical activity and upping fiber and water intake, and your poops still fill the toilet, it's time to talk to your doctor.

What does malabsorption poop look like? ›

When there is inadequate absorption of fats in the digestive tract, stool contains excess fat and is light-colored, soft, bulky, greasy, and unusually foul-smelling (such stool is called steatorrhea). The stool may float or stick to the side of the toilet bowl and may be difficult to flush away.

What causes lots of gas and loose stools? ›

Excess gas is often a symptom of chronic intestinal conditions, such as diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. Small bowel bacterial overgrowth. An increase or change in the bacteria in the small intestine can cause excess gas, diarrhea and weight loss. Food intolerances.

What causes foul-smelling gas and bowel movements? ›

Common causes of foul-smelling gas can be a food intolerance, high-fiber foods, certain medications and antibiotics, and constipation. More serious causes are bacteria and infections in the digestive tract or, potentially, colon cancer.

Why does my poop smell so bad? ›

You're Eating a Lot of Foods With Sulfur

Sulfur-containing foods include cruciferous veggies (examples are broccoli, cauliflower, and kale), dairy, eggs, and meat. But similar to how drinking alcohol or taking supplements with sulfates can make your stool smell, so can sulfur-rich foods.

Can alcohol cause floating stools? ›

Sugary alcoholic drinks and artificial sweeteners can also make your poop gassier, says gastroenterologist Kenneth Brown, M.D. And if your poop contains more air or gas than normal, it will make it lighter—thus more likely to float on top of the water than sink to the bottom of it, like denser turds do.

What are the 3 cardinal signs of pancreatitis? ›

Upper abdominal pain. Abdominal pain that radiates to your back. Tenderness when touching the abdomen. Fever.

What are the 5 signs of pancreatitis? ›

Other symptoms of acute pancreatitis can include:
  • nausea (feeling sick) or vomiting.
  • diarrhoea.
  • indigestion.
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above.
  • jaundice – yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
  • tenderness or swelling of the abdomen (tummy)
Feb 13, 2023

What does diabetic poop look like? ›

People with diabetes may experience frequent diarrhea — loose, watery stools that happen at least three times a day. You may have fecal incontinence as well, especially at night.

What foods cause poop to float? ›

People with lactose intolerance may have floating poop when they eat dairy products. That's because they have low levels of the enzyme lactase that the body needs to digest lactose (a sugar in milk). Lactose isn't only in milk—it's also in many other dairy products, like yogurt, ice cream, and some cheeses.

How often should you poop? ›

It's normal and healthy to have a bowel movement anywhere between three times a week to three times a day. If you're producing soft, well-formed logs that aren't hard to push out, your bowels are probably in good shape.

How do I stop the never ending wipe? ›

Several methods can improve feelings of cleanliness after a bowel movement.
  1. Use wet wipes. Wet wipes can help you avoid irritation from dry toilet paper. ...
  2. Check the direction. ...
  3. Rinse clean with a bidet or rinse bottle. ...
  4. Avoid 'aggressive' or excessive wiping. ...
  5. Wear an incontinence pad.
Jan 12, 2021

Why you should never wipe more than 3 times? ›

She goes on to explain,"when you are wiping more than two or three times, that is called faecal smearing.. "So it is essentially when too much faecal matter stays at the entrance of the anus even after you have finished your poo."

What is it called when you poop and don't wipe? ›

Fecal incontinence is not being able to control bowel movements. Stool leaks from the rectum without warning. Fecal incontinence ranges from an occasional leakage of stool while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control.

What does your poop look like with IBS? ›

If you have IBS with diarrhea, you will have frequent, loose, watery stools. You may have an urgent need to have a bowel movement, which may be hard to control. If you have IBS with constipation, you will have a hard time passing stool, as well as fewer bowel movements.

What foods make your poop firm? ›

You can follow the BRAT diet, which stands for “bananas, rice, applesauce, toast.” This diet also helps firm up stool.
These can include:
  • cooked cereal, like oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, or Farina.
  • soda crackers.
  • apple juice that's low in added sugar.
  • baked or boiled potatoes.
May 11, 2023

How do you get rid of old poop in your colon? ›

  1. Detox by drinking more water. The easiest way to detoxify your colon is to drink more water. ...
  2. Detox by dieting. Diuretic foods and herbs can help the body expel waste and speed up detoxification. ...
  3. Detoxify through exercise. ...
  4. Change your pooping posture. ...
  5. Take probiotics to improve gut health. ...
  6. Look into a colon cleanse.
Aug 4, 2022

Why do I feel like I have to poop but only mucus comes out? ›

You may also feel the urge to have a bowel movement, but only pass mucus or a very small amount of stool. It's a common symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but infections, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other conditions, can also cause it.

Why is my poop so foamy in adults? ›

Foamy poop is typically the result of an increased amount of fat in the stool. This can be caused by a number of conditions including celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, giardiasis, and cystic fibrosis.

Can Metamucil cause floating stools? ›

Since Metamucil is a laxative, it can cause diarrhea or loose stools for some people.

What cancers cause fatty stool? ›

If a tumor blocks the pancreatic duct, insufficient pancreatic juices in the intestines can lead to poor absorption and diarrhea, as the undigested food passes quickly through the digestive tract. If this happens, stool may float due to the higher fat content, appear bulky, greasy, and unusually pale.

What organ causes fatty stool? ›

Conditions that lead to fatty stool and malabsorption include: Liver disease, including biliary tumor or biliary stricture. Celiac disease. Pancreatic disease, including chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.

Do fatty stools smell? ›

Steatorrhea, or fatty stool, may be caused by diet or be a sign of malabsorption, such as seen in cystic fibrosis or some pancreatic diseases. Signs of steatorrhea include foul-smelling, greasy, mucousy, or bulkier-than-normal stools. Most mild or acute cases can safely be treated at home.

What is diabetic belly? ›

Diabetes Belly Fat is a sign that the body is failing. Stomach fat is linked to Heart failure in the diabetic. Lack of good insulin causes the body to store fat at the waist.

What are the symptoms of a diabetic belly? ›

Nausea, heartburn, or bloating can have many causes, but for people with diabetes, these common digestion issues shouldn't be ignored. That's because high blood sugar can lead to gastroparesis, a condition that affects how you digest your food. Diabetes is the most common known cause of gastroparesis.

What is the difference between floaters and sinkers poop? ›

It is not the weight of your stools, but rather their densities that determines their out-of-body fate to float or to sink. Simply put, the “floaters” are bloated by the air in them. Sinkers need a lot more fiber in their diet. Floaters may be caused by gas in the stool, resulting from a change in the diet.

Is it normal for some poop to float and some to sink? ›

Whether your poo floats or sinks depends on the types of bacteria in your gut and how much gas they produce, a new study suggests. About 10 to 15 per cent of people consistently do poos that float in toilet water – so-called “floaters”, while the rest typically produce poos that sink to the bottom, or “sinkers”.

What are floaters vs sinkers poop? ›

It is not the weight of your stools, but rather their densities that determines their out-of-body fate to float or to sink. Simply put, the “floaters” are bloated by the air in them. Sinkers need a lot more fiber in their diet. Floaters may be caused by gas in the stool, resulting from a change in the diet.

What does fatty stool look like? ›

Fatty poops are different from normal poops. They tend to be looser, smellier and paler in color, like clay. They might float. You might have an occasional fatty poop after eating a fatty meal.

What cancers cause malabsorption? ›

In addition to lymphoma, there is an increased incidence of gastrointestinal carcinoma in patients with malabsorption due to celiac disease. This is frequently manifested by a loss of response to gluten withdrawal.

How do you fix bowel malabsorption? ›

To treat the effects of malabsorption, you may need supplemental nutrition, either in an oral formula, by tube or through a vein. You may need specific digestive enzymes replaced, either to treat a food intolerance or general pancreatic insufficiency.

Can a colonoscopy detect malabsorption? ›

Diagnosing the cause of malabsorption

More specific diagnostic tests (eg, upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, barium x-rays) are indicated to diagnose several causes of malabsorption.

When I wipe I feel like I have to poop again? ›

What is tenesmus? Tenesmus is the frequent and urgent feeling that you need to pass stool, even if your bowels are already empty. It may involve straining and discomfort during bowel movements, only to produce a small amount of stool.


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