Stools normally sink in the toilet. But your diet and other factors can
cause your stools to change in structure. This may result in floating. Floating
stools are usually nothing to be concerned about. They’re not always a symptom
of an illness or disease. Your stools will most likely return to normal without
causes of floating stools
The two most common causes of floating stools are excess gas and
malabsorption, or poor absorption, of nutrients.
Certain foods can cause gas in your stools. Foods that commonly cause gas contain
large amounts of sugar, lactose, starch, or fiber, such as:
- soft drinks
- sugar-free candies
Malabsorption can occur when your stools pass through your intestines too
quickly, such as when you have diarrhea. It can also occur when your body does
not process and absorb nutrients correctly. If you have severe malabsorption,
your floating stools may also have a strong odor and appear greasy.
A common cause of malabsorption is gastrointestinal (GI) tract infections.
GI tract infections can be caused by viral or bacterial infections. These
infections usually go away without any treatment.
Floating stools commonly occur in people who have lactose intolerance when
they drink or eat dairy products. Lactose intolerance is the inability to
digest lactose, which is a sugar found in dairy products. Ingesting dairy
products when you are lactose intolerant can cause gas in your stools and diarrhea.
This can lead to malabsorption.
that can cause floating stools
Some of the diseases that can cause floating stools include:
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the lining of
the small intestine when gluten is eaten. Gluten is a protein found mainly in
wheat products. Currently, there is no cure for celiac disease. The symptoms go
away when gluten is avoided.
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited and often fatal disease that causes an excess
production of thick and sticky mucus in the lungs and digestive tract. The
excess mucus in the pancreas prevents the proper absorption of nutrients, which
can cause floating stools. There is no cure for cystic fibrosis. Treatments,
including medications, may reduce floating stools, as well as other symptoms of
Short bowel syndrome occurs when the intestines do not absorb nutrients
properly. This syndrome can be caused by an intestinal disease. It can also be
caused when part of the small intestine is missing from either a genetic defect
or surgical removal.
Extremely rare genetic diseases that can cause floating stools include:
- Bassen-Kornzweig syndrome: a genetic disease in which
the intestines cannot absorb fat
- biliary atresia: underdeveloped bile ducts, which make
the intestines less able to absorb fats
- disaccharidase deficiency: a deficiency or absence of
certain enzymes, which are needed to break down some sugars and starches
to see a doctor
Call your doctor if you have floating 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 may be signs of severe
disease or malabsorption.
Diagnosis and medical treatment
Your doctor will ask questions about how long you have had floating stools,
your diet, your medical history, and other symptoms. In rare cases, your doctor
may order blood or stool tests to try to diagnose the specific cause of your
Treatment, if needed, depends on the cause of your floating stools. Your
doctor may prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections, or antidiarrheal
medications for diarrhea. They may also recommend dietary changes.
If you have floating stools, but no other symptoms, you may want to try a
home treatment. There’s a good chance that your floating stools are caused by
your diet. Try keeping a record of the foods you eat and your bowel movements.
Take note when you have floating stools. When you notice them, check what foods
you ate recently. This can help you identify which foods are causing your
floating stools. Once you identify the foods, you can avoid them in the future.