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Floating Poop Poses Diagnostic Puzzle

Floating Poop Poses Diagnostic Puzzle
Bread pasta wheat gluten carb

Q. As far back as I can remember, my stool has floated. I never worried about it until I saw something on the web about pancreatic cancer and floating poop.

I did some research and found that if you have pale poop that floats it could be serious. There might be something wrong with the gallbladder, liver or pancreas. Since I have lived with this for decades, I reasoned that it probably wasn’t pancreatic cancer or I would be long gone.

Additional searching turned up celiac disease as another possibility. I have experienced quite a few symptoms of celiac disease besides tan floating poop, though my doctors have dismissed my problems when I’ve asked.

I’ve stayed off wheat for several weeks and feel better. What else should I be doing?

A. Celiac disease is an inability to digest the protein in wheat, barley and rye. Such foods destroy the lining of the small intestine in those who have celiac disease.

Symptoms include fatty floating stool (tan or light gray), bloating, digestive distress, fatigue, joint pain, muscle cramps, anemia, osteoporosis, burning or tingling in the feet and itchy, watery skin rash. Although the variety of symptoms can make it difficult to diagnose, celiac disease is much more common than most doctors were taught. It is treated with a strictly gluten-free diet.

We discussed the latest diagnostic tests and treatments of this condition with one of the country’s leading experts, Peter Green, MD, Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. You’ll find more information in our radio show #856, available as an mp3 or on CD.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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