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Is Floating Poop A Problem?

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Q. I was watching Oprah and heard a doctor on her show say that poop should NEVER float. Why?
I have not changed my diet at all, but all of a sudden about two months ago, every time I have a bowel movement, my poop floats.

Is there something wrong with my system? I feel fine and have no pain or anything unusual.

A. Health professionals have been debating the causes of "floaters" vs "sinkers" for decades. Some believe floating is caused by excess fat in the stool as a consequence of digestive disease. Others maintain that gas is the culprit.

One possible cause of floating poop is celiac disease. This is a somewhat mysterious condition that affects a lot more people than most doctors think. It frequently goes undiagnosed. One of the world's leading experts estimates that over 90 percent of people with celiac are not diagnosed.

Because people with celiac cannot digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, they have all sorts of problems absorbing nutrients from food. Because fat may not be well absorbed from the digestive tract, people with celiac disease may end up floating stools. They can be light grey or tan in color and have an unpleasant odor. People who always have "floaters" might want to ask a doctor for a blood test to check for celiac disease.

Other symptoms of celiac disease include:

• Digestive distress: bloating, abdominal pain & cramps, diarrhea
• Fatty floating stools; tan or light gray in color; gas
• Anemia
• Fatigue
• Arthritis or joint pain
• Neuropathy (nerve pain: burning, tingling, numbness)
• Muscle cramps
• Skin rash (that can be intensely itchy at times)
• Osteoporosis
• Neuropathy (tingling or burning feeling in feet or legs)
• Depression and/or brain fog
• Irritability
• Mouth sores
• Lactose intolerance (reaction to milk sugar)
• Muscle weakness
• Infertility
• Easy bruising

To learn more about the kinds of tests to seek, you may wish to listen to our one-hour interview with Peter Green, MD, Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

Since you have only recently noticed floaters, this may not a problem you have to be concerned about. If you feel well and have no diarrhea or other symptoms, it probably makes little difference. If it persists, tell your doctor at your next visit so she can rule out anything serious such as celiac disease or pancrease problems.

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This may be a rare indicator, but for me soft, floating BMs were associated with high blood glucose levels. When I found out I have type 2 diabetes and got my BG levels under 200, my BMs started sinking again and were more fully formed.

With regard to floating poops:
I heard the exact opposite many years ago and notice the following:
when I eat broccoli and lots of veggies and fruit, my poop floats. As soon as I have carbs (bread or sweets), the poop drops.

my experienced naturopathic physician told me floating poop can be be the result of eating meals that are very high in fiber.

You should be checked for gluten intolerance, or perhaps celiac disease. Some people with celiac disease are completely symptom-free, yet biopsy reveals complete villous atrophy of the small intestine. In most cases this can be corrected with a gluten free diet, however failure to recognize the condition can lead to serious health consequences.

Floaters are caused by dietary fiber and are a good sign. I've been told this by 3 internists and I have observed the results of adhering to my fiber intake. No fiber equals sinkers.

Probably the same Dr. on Oprah said a year or 2 ago that poop should ALWAYS float because it means that you're eating enough fiber. Would you like to bet that pretty soon a new medication will be advertised to make poop sink? :-)

For months I have noticed that I have poop that floats along with some that sinks each time I have a bowel movement. Also, I have had gas that is extremely excessive. It seems to occur more after eating dairy products. Because of this, I have begun to take lactaid pills before consuming dairy products. There is some relief from this. However, I have heard this can be a sign of pancreatic cancer. I have been feeling increased pain in my back and lower right side. My diet does consist of more vegetables than meat. There has been no weight loss. Do you feel I have cause for alarm? I will be discussing this with my doctor to rule out any disease. Thanks for your opinion,


I was diagnosed with h pyloria about two months ago. I took the antibiotics and have not received any relief. My worst time is in the early morning I feel something like morning sickness then the problem throughout the day is I have so much gas.

My stomach rumbles and rolls all day. When I went back to be re-tested they said it was negative. They performed the breathe test on me and I wondered if anyone knows how accurate this is? Also wondered if anyone had any ideas of what could be wrong with me? I'm desperate, this is affecting my life. Anyone who is sick all the time is going to feel unwell. I just have little energy and fatigue. Thanks for any advice.

Stacie T.

You should see a doctor about this. Another one preferably. I will tell you that what you are describing are also symptoms of stress. Are you stressed?

Mine have always been a combo of floater or sinkers depending on the day. Only after I switched to a vegetarian diet have I noticed that mine now consistently float. I'm a healthy eater with a very well balanced diet of vegetables, pulses and grains ('healthy' as opposed to a junk food vegetarian). As another commenter suggested, it seems to me that this might simply be a result of more fiber in the diet. I don't think floaters (or) sinkers are an accurate reflection of health or diet (I was also at one time a very healthy omnivore).

If you have health concerns that could be identified early via your stools, my guess would be that they'd be more apparent (chronic constipation, diarrhea, bloody stools, pain). As always, you should check in with your doctor if you are concerned.

I have been having a problem with this and remember the Barbara Walters interview with Patrick Swayzee. He had said to her that pancreatic cancer does not have a lot of clues until it's almost too late. He said one thing that did happen that is a symptom of this type of cancer was his poop started floating. Now I am really worried. Anyone else hear this on the interview?

I had those same symptoms for about 5 weeks straight. I had swelling of my stomach like I was 6-7 months pregnant , pain every time I ate anything and diarrhea that could not be controlled by Imodium ad. I finally went to the ER and they tested me, starved me, tested me, starved me. Every time I would not have food the swelling went down, the minute I had any food the pain and swelling would come back.

I had a gastro doctor that came in the day before my scheduled exploratory surgery to find the problems that was... Giardiasis. A parasite (giardia) was living in my stomach from fecal contamination of water (or food) I had drank somewhere. They gave me a quinicrine medication used to treat malaria and other parasites. I felt better in 5 days. It was unbelievable.

I still felt very fatigued and weak for weeks later but i could finally eat again with no pain or swelling of my stomach. They took stool cultures from me on my first day I went to the ER but it needed an incubation time so that it why it didn't show up on the test that were immediate results. This illness was reported to the government CDC ( center for disease control) by the hospital and I had to have my whole family tested and questioned..... had I left the country , do I work in a daycare, all sorts of weird questions.

It turned out my 2 years old had the same thing, but being young her symptoms were not as apparent. This was one of the worst experiences in my life & I have had 5 c-sections, gall bladder removed, septo & rhinoplasty, oral surgery etc..... This was by far THE WORST!!!!! Just thought that info might be useful to you. I have never left the country at this time in my life so to have this was a shock. Maybe something along these lines may have happened to you. Good luck ... hope you feel better!

My mother passed 6 years ago from Pancreatic cancer........ her poop ALWAYS floated. No other symptoms were apparent. She went for a cat scan test on her chest and they saw a mass ( size of a lg lemon or orange) that was pancreas cancer. She passed 5 months later.....A horrible painful death. She couldn't eat and the smell of food made her ill. The pain she felt was unlike anything I had ever seen in my life. I would always be nervous now if my poop starts to float. I followed Patrick Swayze's condition and interviews always after finding my mother passed from the same illness.

I started having floaters almost immediately after I started drinking a new smoothie recipe that was in a Dr OZ suggested diet published in a magazine WOMANS WORLD. It contains whey powder, ground flax seed, psyllium husk, chia seeds, wheat germ, fish oil, bananas or berries and any kind of fruit juice. The smoothie is super super thick and filling and I feel full almost all day. I'm sure the fiber from the psyllium husk are what's making the floaters.

I had a serious bout of gastroenteritis at the end of January'10 & my stools were mostly a very smelly orange/tan liquid at the time, although 2 lots of blood & stool test results both came back 'normal'. Up until then, I had always been a sinker. Since however, my stools have been stringy/wet, smelly & always floaties. I often get foul smelling excess gas which is very embarrassing, recently on occasion, accompanied by a small leakage of colourless mucus.

My doctor suspected inflammatory bowel syndrome & referred me to a gastroenterologist who has now booked a colonoscopy & biopsy for me early next month.

I have always had BM's that were sinkers up until about 6 months ago. Nothing has changed in my diet. Now I have BM's that float one time then sink the next. I have also noticed that as I am eating a meal, I get that "full feeling" much quicker than usual. I read something recently about some people getting parasites from improperly prepared sushi. The post about the giardiasis has got me wondering if that is what I am suffering from.

I am going to see my doctor about testing to see if I have contracted a parasite and will post back when I get the results. Thanks for all the comments regarding this touchy subject.

Following on, the gastroenteritis I had back in Jan lasted 7 weeks. I lost so much weight I looked almost anorexic.

Thankfully, my appetite & some of the weight has come back since then.

The Colonoscopy results came back inconclusive.The biopsy showed definite inflammation of the intestine, but not the cause. My doctor has more or less put it down to IBS & I'm on a course of Mebeverine. My stools are less wet than before, but still very smelly & float all the time. (I normally go 3-4 times a day). When I do go, I have to lean forward with my head almost between my knees as I feel I can't completely empty my bowel most of the time, often needing to go again almost straight away.

I still have probs with groaning noises in the abdomen accompanied by the feeling of needing the toilet to empty my bowel, which I have very little control over (esp if I'm stressed) but it normally just leaks hot colorless mucus. This usually comes on mid to late morning & is very embarrassing when I'm out on delivery.(I'm a postman) I'm now having to wear panty liners every day to stop messing up my underwear/trousers. I still don't know what the mucus is or where it's coming from.

I can no longer eat white bread or butter, have had to cut back on cheese & spicy food, & no(dairy) milk other than soya or goats milk. I used to treat myself to a cooked breakfast from the work's canteen once a week before heading out on my round, but that upsets my gut as well now so have had to give that the heave-ho! I'm still learning what I can & can't eat at the moment.

I have a follow-up app at the hospital later this month.

Hi all

I was alerted to this site because a friend mentioned something about floaters. Many of my rather unhealthy acquaintances complain of this here and there. I have never had a floater, ever. What I can tell you is that I have always eaten a strict diet of very healthy/organic, or at least as close to organic food as financially possible. I never eat anything that is processed or questionable and I never eat meat.

I especially avoid cooked food or mysterious food made in a restaurant that I don't really trust. I also use herbal cleansing products periodically to flush out toxins (and you wouldn't believe the stuff that I see from that.. wow). These lifelong habits have really helped me and my healthy friends.

Now I may drop dead tomorrow, but my doc can't believe my health and I believe it has added years to my 'youth'. Just wanted to add a little encouragement to you all, and I wish you the best in this very confusing topic.

Hello, I was wondering if you could share what products you use for herbal cleansing? Thanks "Healthy Guy."

To All:
This is a very confusing topic - I never had any problems until I began having tons of stress at work, which aggravated my stomach/intestines. Now, I'm 52 and in great shape, eat right, etc.

I went for a colonoscopy, which came out great. Never had 'floaters" but as my intestines got back to normal after that test, I do now... that is normal, however I'll find out more on the subject when I go back on the 19th. From what I understand, you should not have them.

However, just as a precaution, the doctor did an endoscopy, as well, and found early signs of Barrett's esophagus. She did 3 biopsies - I have to wait ten days for the results - this is a silent but very dangerous disease - a symptom is heartburn, which I really didn't even have - just an upset stomach. This is not meant to worry you all, but if you are suffering from odd symptoms, don't forget to request this test as well - painless, easy and very telling.


i have a question before i became pregnant my poop sometimes floated and sometimes did not but now it floats all the time could it be because i am pregnant?

My 15 year old granddaughter has been experiencing floaters and didn't realize it until I told her they were not going down when she flushed and needed to watch to make sure they go down. Should I be concerned? We eat the same meals most of the time and mine sink.


If you drink coffee in the morning, and that is what stimulates your bowel movement, then your poop will not be entirely compacted and will float. I noticed this a while back. If I drink coffee, I run to the bathroom and make a floater. If I don't drink coffee, then i have a BM later in the day and it's a sinker. Also if you eat late at night, then your food will not have time to compact and gas will remain and cause it to float. In summary, if you feel healthy, then floating is caused by your poop not having enough time in your lower intestine to squeeze the gas out of it.

Andrew, did they test you for Celiac Disease? Both my great nephew and his father have this disease. The father did not have effects until his mid 30s, his son in his mid teens.

Take some really good 'live' probiotics every single day, for at least one month. After a few weeks of a consecutive probiotic regimen AND eliminating, (or at least limiting) ALL white flour and wheat products; breads, biscuits, crackers, cereals, cookies, and pasta, PLUS eliminate all sugar (this means no more than one serving of fruit or fruit juice per day), you should see a huge difference. Eat mostly (70%) organic greens and drink mostly veggie juices and 'lemon water'. (NO tap water)

It's a good idea to take two different types of 'live' probiotics together. If they are not guaranteed 'live' at the time of consumption, they are useless and ineffective. Always take probiotics on an empty stomach, not with meals or beverages. If you are on other meds, take a few hours apart. Probiotics are safe for pregnant women and babies. They are not vooddoo or a pharmeuctical med. You don't need a prescription and you don't need to seek out a witch-doctor.

You can buy probiotics w/o a prescription in most Health Food stores, usually in the refrigerated section (keep refrig - don't allow them to drop to room temps) of Whole Foods stores. They are NOT an instant 'quick-fix'. They take at least a week to start to kick in, especially if you're following the above diet plan. Stay on the probiotics for at least a month and you'll see and feel a real huge difference.

I had the h-pylori this past summer for just over 2 months on top have 7 years of crohn's disease... I thought I was dying! I was so sick from both that I lost nearly 60 lbs! I was on the previ pack and it did help but it took forever! I found that 2 chewable pepto's helped more than anything and also was told by my GI that pepto can kill most of the bacteria on its own but the other meds were also needed to help the pepto.. meds except pepto seemed to make me worse!

I was diagnosed by an upper gi egd! Took biopsy's and labs countless tubes of blood.. my GI does not do the breathe test because he says its not as accurate. It takes a while for all of the bacteria to clear your system but after taking to many other doctors about h-plyori they all have told me that they have never seen a case of the bacteria returning once it has been killed! So thank the lord for that because I don't think I could survive another attack like that! Ask your doctor for a blood test or EGD if u are still experiencing the horrific pains and vomiting!

I've often wondered what causes poop to either float or sink. I read here that pancreatic cancer can cause poop to float but is that a very reliable symptom to go by especially for those who have always had poop that floats?

The only time my poop ever sinks is when my stomach has been upset by something whether it be lactose or a stomach flu which caused diarrhea which made everything sink. When I'm feeling fine and my poop is formed again, it's always floated.

I'm wondering if maybe gas has something to do with poop floating. It's always a possibility especially for those who have dealt with this all of their life.

A simple test.

Does it float, but after a few minutes slowly sink ?

If so, the BM is becoming slowly waterlogged as gas is replaced by water,

You are fine.

I went on a detox diet, and I ate mostly organic very little meat and lots of salads!! I felt great lost weight and my bm's were floaters! I think it is good!

My poop floats whenever I do a liver detox and generally have a lot of fiber in my diet, which is more often than not. On the other hand, my poop will sink when I have the too rich meal. Since floaters have always meant "normal" for me, I take it that a sinker is not since I associate mine with the occasional excessively high carb meal. For those worried about pancreatic cancer, jaundice combined with serious stomach bloating and pain is a more reliable symptom of that, since floaters can be attributed to other (good) things.

I thought floating poop was due to lack of fibre and excess fat..

I would get tested for Celiac Disease. You sound like me when I get gluten in my system.

Thanks for the msg.
Celiac Disease has been ruled out, docs confirmed diagnosis of IBS (which is what I suspected to be the case all along really!)

Thankfully, the symptoms have not been as severe of late. I'm just being a bit more careful with my diet & avoiding the 'trigger' foods.

My poop is awesome, Paul!

my experience is also that when I eat lots of vegetables, my poop floats.

my poop started to float about a year ago sometimes in the morning I feel very tired. I talk to my Dr he just looked at me. It still floats and I am worried I have been under a lot of stress also.

you may have celiac disease. It causes very acute fatigue in me and I just feel lousy. try for only 2 weeks to be gluten free. totally read labels. then go back to your diet. see if you notice anything

I dont know when my poop started to float, I never looked but last week I was watching Dr Oz and he was talking about floater and sinkers and that every one should check their poo and that floaters meant you have pancreatic cancer or some blockage in the bile ducts and he said that bile in the poo make it sink. I am a floater and will get myself checked by Doc.

For the last 30 or so years I had a lot of trouble with my bowels, I have to eat about 50 g of fibre a day, some days I do and other days I don't, but when I do my bowels work ok, also found out last year I have leaky gut and suffer from a lot of gas especially when I drink water which I have to to keep my bowels working.

Also I have low thyroid and I'm on med. I'm in my 60s and with this thyroid problem feeling very tired all the time and now thinking all the worst until I see my doc. Good luck to all you people.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Diagnosing pancreatic cancer is more complex than whether or not your poop floats. With a high-fiber diet and lots of gas, more than likely there is nothing wrong with your stool. That said, it makes sense to get any sudden change in bowel habits checked out by the doctor.

Hi Suzanne, I was wondering if you ever found out what is causing your problems. Please let me know,

I had rectal polaspe surgery last May and about 6 months ago my poop started to float is that normal?

Have you had any procedural tests...? It's a good idea if you aren't getting relief to have your g.p. Dr. refer you to a gastroenterologist. Sure hope you find a kind and discerning physician who will get to the bottom of it. God bless!

I am 48 a recent full fledged vegan (that means I don't eat any thing with any sort of animal product including eggs, diary, fish, or any thing that has a heartbeat, blood, or beetle juices such as the ones Starbucks was using in its strawberry frappes, also no pink slime or meat glue, I am also salmonella, e coli, listeria free) I don't eat frozen products, I use a Vitamix blender to make my own mixtures of raw vegetables and fruits, nuts, grains to get the maximum stored nutrients and enzymes. Read "the China Study" or "Skinny Bitch" watch "Forks over Knives" for starters.

My background: I used to have a fatty liver condition which is a precursor to about 37 possible liver issues. I was eating ice cream for breakfast, bratwurst and cheese mac for lunch and burgers and fries for dinner. One of the symptoms is floating poop and frequent diarrhea, I had an extremely high ferrite (iron) blood count, High LDLs, low HDLs but normal cholesterol. I changed to a low to no fat diet for about 6 months and cured it. However, years later after watching "Forks over Knives" I began to realize just how terrible animal proteins were for my blood vessels. That is right I said animal proteins not fats. So even eating low fat meats is detrimental to my health. Milk is mostly fat unless you get the 2% fat then its 98% animal protein.

Long story shorter: My friend told me about her Celiac disease which is allergy to gluten and how "Skinny Bitch" got her started eating properly. She lost 75 pounds in a year eating only raw veggies no animal products. Since I knew I still had a potentially deathly diet I decided to go vegan with her. One of the things that happens is my body goes through a detox and my poop is floating again - no diarrhea. After reading many articles I found that the sink or swim poop thing is determined by many things. When I had my fatty liver condition it was caused by the fats not being digested and passing through the GI also the liver will release its stored fat at times and you will have floating poop from fat.

Now I have floating poop from eating vegetables and fruits, beans etc. which cause more gas. So I fart a lot. As I am eating this vegan diet I have gone from sinkers to floaters but I am more healthy than ever. The body adjusts over time and recently I am having sinkers and floaters at the same time.

I dont usually look at my poop but yesterday I looked mine floats

I recently switched from lipitor to zocor. Could this change cause new incidence of floaters?

I don't see what the big deal is. I am now 31 and my poop has always floated my entire life. Always. I have never had any problems, diseases. No matter if I change my diet or not.

I noticed about 2 or 3 years ago that my feces not only float but that when I have any bowel movement that there is a layer of grease or oil that covers the water everyone ! I became very concerned and told my doctor.

I am a disabled vet. I have since had my gallbladder removed. They believed out was related too the gallstones I had, which turned out to be only one massive stone in gallbladder, but that caused me enormous pain, surgery corrected the pain.

I am concerned that I still have the floating feces and oil that covers the complete top of the water in the bowel! Also when I wipe I feel like I'm never clean for the oil or grease that remains on my bottom after I defecate and try to wipe! Please help me..what's strong with me? I am extremely worried and unfortunately the.doctors at the veterans hospital have been no help!

I know this isn't normal , and somethings wrong! Is this life threatening? Can it be?...I also have stomach pain , gas, nausea sometimes I vomit, always I cramp! My feces ALWAYS FLOATS WITH GREASY DEPOSITS ON TOP OF WATER AND ON MY BOTTOM! PLEASE SOMEBODY, ANYBODY HELP ME!

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Floating feces don't necessarily signal a problem, but together with your other symptoms, the "steatorrhea" (elimination of unabsorbed fat) should definitely trigger an investigation to see what is causing the trouble.

Possible causes:
Celiac disease
Pancreas problems

Wilipedia has a pretty good overview of steatorrhea:

Please request a second opinion with a gastroenterologist who is willing to do the appropriate tests to get to the bottom of your situation.

My poop floats I'm 37 and feel fine. my belly never hurts. I don't think I should be concerned ????

I was always told by physicians that floating poop was the result of a diet rich in vegetables and fiber. He advised that protein is what causes poop to sink.

my friend had pancreatic, and survived it, and he told me the same thing, but he did say that it was not the only symptom, and just because floating stools were not just pancreatic symptoms, he never noticed the stools until after diagnosed because he never knew, his first symptoms was massive pain stomach. sent home with panadol, went for second opinion cause pain was not right, diagnosed straight away. Alive today but said a week or two later would not have been the same result.

I have been looking for an answer, since I heard a numerous times about when poop floats by Dr Oz, but never heard or missed the cause. My poop has been floating since I returned from Houston Texas. I did have a prostate operation, and now I'm worried whether I have any pancreas problems. I do bake and cook, with any flour, but in the last two years I'm slowly converting and testing Gluten free products, which I have greatly advanced in the kitchen. I can bake any type of muffin/ cookies without dairy, and sugar contents, by using honey, and different fruit liquids, and Virgin olive oil replacing butter,and still my poop floats.

My next full doctor examination is May 14/2013, I definitely will bring up the type of test you proposed for cilia, and pancreas... I hope it's not to late. I do have enormous pain behind my right eye, and hope it's only a nerve connection from my right arm, since a german shepherd jumped at my right shoulder and tearing my bicep, and 6 other small muscles. A MRI was done, but could find nothing, the pain is only when I hit my foot hard to the ground, or one of my horses pulls/jerks instantly at the right side rein.

what if it doesnt float all the time, just sometimes? Also a person who has a sweet tooth eating a lot of sweet things may change this at times and make it vary, I wonder? There are so many things that one eats and how do we know if the diet is causing it and also the variations of how the poop turns out and variation of different colours too could be from various different foods eaten, it is difficult to work out.

This is weird...
I know I have celiac since about half a year and when I started the diet after some weeks my poop began to float...
I don't know why this happens because before that it was fine.
Can someone help me?

Try lactose free dairy (not soya) it worked for me, especially the milk!

I started getting terrible bloating after meals and floaters after contracting norovirus - I had IBS for years but getting so sick seemed to take it up a notch and these were new symptoms. Even though the norovirus was gone in a few days, the bloat and float symptoms persisted on and off over a year.

After hearing that lactose malapsorbtion was a possible cause I tried out lactose free milk. I also allow myself some mature hard cheeses such as Grana Padano and Emmenthal as I understand the long maturing process eliminates nearly all the lactose. My floaters almost completely stopped, (with some occasional exceptions when I made mistakes eating out) so I'd agree it is worth a try with lactose free milk.

Just wanted to know from people getting floaters, what are your cholesterol levels????

my wife has these symptons and had a test where they found blood in her poop and is diagnosed with colon cancer. your symptons are exactly what she had and she listened to doctors not to worry now they have wrecked our lives. go and get checked, listen to your own body and demand checks to make sure. bowel cancer is a silent killer until it's too late

You should try a low carb gluten free diet. My stomach used to rumble and roll every time I ate, I was always gassy and felt bloated even when I only ate a small amount.

Since cutting sugar, carbs, and all gluten from my diet, taking a probiotic, and getting off the pill, my stomach shrank, I lost a ton of weight, and absolutely no more rumblies. I feel so much better!!

I agree with the commenters that say it is from eating a lot of fiber. I don't eat grains and so consequently I don't consume gluten. I eat tons of veggies so on and off I get floaters,

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