Why some stools float and others sink
Posted by mandyf on December 14, 2011
Stool health is a constant point of curiosity for many people, especially when it comes to understanding what it means when their bowels sink or float. Thanks to a number of television shows over the years offering different reasons for why some stools sink and others float, and what it means, there is a lot of confusion and bad information out there on this aspect of bodily functions. The reason some feces floats while some sinks is not nearly the medical mystery it is often made out to be.
If you were to believe vegans, the perfect stool floats because it is uncontaminated by animal fats that make a stool more dense. There is a shred of truth to that, but just a shred. In actuality, the amount of animal fat present in a stool is a factor, but only in an unhealthy person suffering from a disease such as abetaliprotenemia, cystic fibrosis, or celiac disease as examples. In a healthy person, the amount of animal fat in a stool does not determine why a stool sinks or floats with all due respect to the great TV Diagnostician Gregory House.
The real reason behind why some stools float or sink is far more random than any theory on television. Stools will float if there is an increased amount of air and gas trapped in the stool. In actuality, more animal fat in a stool can in some cases actually help a stool float because the processed animal fat being passed serves as something akin to caulk. The simplest answer is often the correct one.
With that said, if you consistently have stools that float for two consecutive weeks you may want to see your doctor to make sure it is not a symptom of a medical ailment. If you have floaters that are of a loose consistency for two or more weeks it is again suggested to see your physician as that could be a sign of a malabsorption problem in which your gastrointestinal tract is not functioning properly.
If your stools sink some days and float others there is no need for concern. In actuality, a steady repetition of sinking stools is a sign of generally good health as it is only when you experience the opposite on a daily basis that you need to consult a doctor that can investigate possible reasons and perhaps steer you toward a healthy resolution.