What Causes Stools To Float?

Drifting stools are a health concern generally related to increased fat in the feces. Often soft and foul-smelling, these stools frequently adhere to the side of the toilet bowl or are tough to flush away. Drifting stools might likewise be pale in color.

Common Causes of Floating Stools

What causes stools to float? In many cases, floating stools just arise from consuming meals high in fat. In other cases, floating stools might result from excess gas (a condition likewise referred to as flatulence).

Excess gas might be caused by consumption of insoluble fibers, artificial sweeteners, and a range of other substances.

In addition, floating stools are regularly experienced by people with irritable bowel syndrome, along with those with Graves’ disease (an immune system disorder that causes overproduction of thyroid hormones).

Drifting stools might also signify the existence of a condition called steatorrhea. When it comes to steatorrhea, unusually high quantities of fat in the feces arise from reduced absorption of fat in the intestinal tract.toilet paper

Steatorrhea might be caused by gastrointestinal infections, use of certain medications, or the presence of conditions understood to interrupt the absorptive lining of the intestines (such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease).

Steatorrhea can also occur as a symptom of conditions impacting the pancreas, gallbladder, or liver. Such conditions are typically marked by decreased levels of lipase (a digestive enzyme produced the pancreas) and/or bile salts (a type of substance formed in the liver).

Lipase and bile salts are both needed to break down and absorb fat.

Here’s a take a look at a number of conditions that can cause reduced levels of lipase and/or bile salts and, in turn, result in drifting stool:

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Gluten is a protein discovered primarily in wheat products. Presently, there is no remedy for celiac disease. The symptoms disappear when gluten is prevented.

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an acquired and often deadly disease that causes an excess production of thick and sticky mucus in the lungs and digestive tract. The excess mucus in the pancreas avoids the correct absorption of nutrients, which can cause floating stools. There is no remedy for cystic fibrosis. Treatments, consisting of medications, might reduce floating stools, as well as other symptoms of the disease.

Short bowel syndrome

Short bowel syndrome happens when the intestines do not soak up nutrients effectively. This syndrome can be caused by an intestinal disease. It can likewise be caused when part of the small intestine is missing from either a genetic flaw or surgical removal.

Rare genetic diseases

Extremely unusual hereditary illness that can cause floating stools include:

  • Bassen-Kornzweig syndrome: a genetic disease where the intestinal tracts can not soak up fat
  • biliary atresia: underdeveloped bile ducts, making the intestines less able to absorb fats
  • disaccharidase deficiency: a shortage or absence of specific enzymes, which are had to break down some sugars and starches.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Frequently connected to alcohol addiction (don’t consume alcohol, alcohol is harmful for health) or gallstones, chronic pancreatitis is defined by inflammation of the pancreas.

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

Sclerosing Cholangitis

Sometimes related to ulcerative colitis, sclerosing cholangitis is marked by inflammation, scarring, and damage of the bile ducts inside and beyond the liver. Symptoms might include floating stools, tiredness, itchy skin, fever/chills, jaundice, and dark urine.


Choledocholithiasis is the presence of several gallstones in the typical bile duct. In most cases, the condition causes no symptoms unless the stone obstructs the bile duct. In addition to drifting stools, symptoms typically include pain in the right upper or middle upper abdomen (lasting for a minimum of 30 minutes), fever, jaundice, anorexia nervosa, nausea, and vomiting.

Bacterial Overgrowth

Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine can disrupt fat absorption and lead to drifting stools.

Common causes of bacterial overgrowth include chronic stress, diabetes, immune deficiency, inadequate fiber consumption, and use of contraceptive pills or other medications.

In addition to drifting stool, symptoms include abdominal pain, back pain, abdominal bloating, and weight loss. It’s likewise associated with diabetes.

See also: Characteristics of Healthy and Unhealthy Stool

When to Seek Medical Attention

Call your doctor if you have drifting stools for more than two weeks. Get immediate medical help if your floating stools are accompanied by blood in your stools, dizziness, fever, or weight loss. These symptoms might be signs of severe disease or malabsorption.

While stools that occasionally drift after eating high-fat meals shouldn’t alarm you, it’s crucial to look for medical attention if you’re experiencing oily, foul-smelling drifting stools. Such stools might indicate severe malabsorption.

Treatment for Floating Stools

For the majority of people, drifting stools are harmless and don’t need treatment.

Given that diet plays a part in the development of floating stools, it’s possible that adjusting your diet may assist with this issue. For instance, some medical specialists recommend eliminating one or two foods from your diet at a time to test whether those foods might be contributing to drifting stools.

For help in enhancing your overall digestive health, try these natural approaches to stimulating food digestion.

Your doctor will ask questions about how long you have had drifting stools, your diet, your medical history, and other symptoms. In unusual cases, your doctor may order blood or stool tests to attempt to identify the specific cause of your drifting stools

Treatment, if needed, depends upon the cause of your drifting stools. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics for bacterial infections, or antidiarrheal medications for diarrhea. They may also advise dietary changes.

How to Prevent Floating Stools

If you have drifting stools, but no other symptoms, you might want to attempt a home treatment. There’s a likelihood that your floating stools are caused by your diet. Attempt keeping a record of the foods you eat and your defecation.

Keep in mind when you have drifting stools. When you see them, check what foods you consumed recently. This can help you determine which foods are triggering your drifting stools. As soon as you identify the foods, you can prevent them in the future.


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