toilet paper, diarrhea medicine, FIT

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 about your floating poop at your next visit so she can rule out anything serious such as celiac disease or pancreas problems.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Brian
    TX and LA

    Well I’ve been noticing my poop floating for about 2weeks, and I’ve been passing Gas 24-7!!! In 2015Ii had a severe case of pancreatitis with a pseudo-cyst, and my mom said they had to scrape my pancreas because it was sloughing or whatever. Anyway, I was hospitalized for 8mos and in a coma for the first 2mos. The Drs were amazed that I lived through it! But while I was in the hospital the rules for my insurance changed to no multi-state coverage. So I don’t have a Dr that I could follow up with?

    I hope it’s just a bacterial thing! I just had both hips replaced this year plus now I have Veneous Stasis, and I’ve had multiple surgeries on my lower legs from just minor abrasions that got real bad very quickly!! I’m so tired of surgeries and woundcare appts!!

  2. Pietra

    I’m sitting on the toilet and I was just wondering why the heck does my crap float so I pulled up google and somehow ended up here and convinced that I have medical problems. Thanks internet.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.