Floating And Sinking Poop

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Della asks:

What happens if your poop floats? Does that mean something?



Dear Della,

Judging by the number of times it is asked, this question is a source of great concern to the masses. The Floaters versus Sinkers controversy (hey, wouldn't those be great names for PoopReport basketball teams?) has been raging since time began... OK, since the Internet began... OK, since this morning.


WHAT MAKES POOP FLOAT?

Surprisingly, not what you might think.

Conventional medical wisdom attributes Floaters to the amount of fat in your poop. While this IS true for certain diseases (cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, biliary atresia, abetalipoprotenimia and a few other weird sounding illnesses), it is NOT true for your run-of-the-mill healthy person.

Vegetarians would have you believe that the "perfect" stool (that is, one uncontaminated by the consumption of animal parts) is the Floater. Many vegetarians have spent their entire lives in the quest to produce perfection -- when in fact no particular diet can reliably produce Floaters. The vast majority of us bring forth Sinkers.

Sinkers really need a good P.R. person -- they have gotten a bad rap over the ages. Sure, Floaters are cute and all, but a good solid Sinker will never let you down.


BACK TO WHAT MAKES POOP FLOAT...

Actually, it is gas that does it. Increased levels of air and gas in the poop make it less dense, and cause it to float. Simple as that. Dietary changes can lead to an increase in the amount of gas produced by the bacteria that live in the gut, which is probably what the vegetarians are basing their whole "perfect stool" theory on. I don't know -- the whole time I was vegan I never consistently produced Floaters.

Then, after a couple of years, I grew disenchanted and yearned for a hamburger. And that was the end of Poonurse the Vegetarian.


WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Well, I'm a little unclear on that. It must matter greatly to a lot of people, or else they wouldn't take so much time to write to me about it. I guess it could matter if you are worried that you are sick or something.

If you have diarrheal-esque Floaters for more than two weeks, you may have a malabsorption problem -- a dysfunction of the GI tract that affects the body's ability to digest and absorb fat. Acute gastrointestinal infections can also result in increased gas content in the intestines, due to rapid movement of stool through the GI tract.


SO WHAT?

So I am forced to assume that Floaters are NOT the most desirable of all stools. Sinkers are by far more common. Don't spend your life chowing down on tofu burgers just because you think you are being cheated out of a Floater. Neither tofu burgers nor Floaters are worth the trouble. Sinkers are our destiny.

Thanks for asking Poonurse!

Poonurse is an RN with 25 years experience in labor and delivery. Her qualifications
include seeing a lot of poop, and owning a computer. Also, she works in Michigan, which she calls the asshole
of the universe, so that's another bit of credibility.
Got a question for her?

392 Comments on "Floating And Sinking Poop"

Anonymous's picture
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You guys are all hilarious with these comments Very entertaining reading. lol. I love the one about the cat poo floating in the toilet for days... Whoever wrote that should write comedic stories and get published. Also the author of the floaters that happen at the girlfriend's mothers house... classic!

P.S. I've been one of the unfortunate ones who has always had a very high sugar, high cheese, high bread, high fat and no vegetable diet causing expected constipation. I do poo regulary (sinkers)once a day though and I almost always have to strain, and I can tell there is always more... never feels evacuated. I do long for that feeling of evacuation which has teased me just a few times in my 40 years! Anyway, I recently started an internal cleanser and have had NO sugar, cheese, or bread for the last 5 days (still can't stomach any vegetables though), and sure enough - I've just started noticing something new... floaters! That's why I googled poo that floats. They are just nice normal floaters with no smooshiness thankfully. Half you guys are saying floaters are bad and half you guys are saying floaters are the best... I DID have popcorn late last night so I'm gonna have to side with the people who mentioned popcorn in their posts. We must have good water pressure, because these new floater guys have always flushed. :)

Anonymous's picture
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When the shit floats it floats; when the shit sinks it sinks.

Anonymous's picture
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ohh crap, my poo is like that -- pale brown, floats, smells weird.

Anonymous's picture
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Actually you are wrong. It is fiber that makes poop float. Therefore, it is healthier to have floating poop. By the way, you should check your sources.

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points
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Dear Anonymous, How do you explain the fact that when I stuff my gob with fatty hot wings, no fiber at all, I produce a bowl full of floaters the next day? They are usually stinkers also!

How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on!

Anonymous's picture
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You are both wrong. Floaters are caused by your poops wearing tiny, almost-invisible life vests. They don't want to go down the bowl hole to oblivion.

Anonymous's picture
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Thank you!

Anonymous's picture
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Dr. Oz says sinkers are better!

Anonymous's picture
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Increased fiber equals increased gas. That's why people who eat a lot of fiber, are also really farty. Correlation, not causation.

Anonymous's picture
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I always have floating poop or sinking poop, it's never just one, It's probably what you eat that makes it float or sink.

Anonymous's picture
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Please tell me the location of the large bodies of water that you are pooping in so that I can keep my distance. That is disgusting.

Anonymous's picture
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I eat healthy, my poop always floats.

Anonymous's picture
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Dr Oz is full of sinking stinking shit...

Anonymous's picture
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Ever considered that it is due to the way the intestines move & how long the poop stays in it (regular shitter or "constipate-or")?
If the poop stays in the system too long ("constipate-or") due to less fiber in diet or slow movement of the tract, the bacteria will have a field day & produces gas as their by-product. Due to the presence of gas, the poo are less compacted hence it'll end up a floater. The pungent gas being passed out as it near the end of the line.
If the intestines moves well (peristalsis = wavelike movement generated naturally to move the poo along the GI tract), coupled with a sufficiently high fiber diet, the poo materials get more compacted & the bacteria has not enough time to react hence the poo becomes a sinker.
Maybe a poll should be taken to find out the regularity of each individual's bowel movement to find a co-relationship of sinker/floater vs frequency of toilet visits.
BTW I am a sinker (90%) & visits the toilet as least 3 time a day & it doesn't smells.

Anonymous's picture
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Whenever I produce Floaters, it is a celebration. I make a couple of sails out of the starchy toilet paper they stock at my school and have myself a boat rally for a while. It takes the edge off.

Anonymous's picture
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No it's not! Fiber adds bulk to poop which makes it heavier and thus it sinks. Check your sources.

Anonymous's picture
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I am not a nurse or doctor of any sort but I have had the gas issues. I always have gas-X and Beano on hand. Veggies are a real gas producer also. Look up foods that cause gas you may be surprised by how much of them you are eating.
Just something to try out. The Gas-X says to take before you eat and at bedtime, the Beano is pretty much the same.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous's picture
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I didn't read through all the comments; only the first few. I Googled which is better for you: Floater or Sinker?

I'm a little over 5 months pregnant and as most women know, and I'm finding out, pregnancy changes everything! I used to be the kind of person who, if I had 3 meals a day, I had 3 bowel movements a day. Now I'm lucky to have one bowel movement every 2-3 days!

The reason I Googled the question is because I am anything but a healthy eater and yet I almost always have sinkers. Yet today, after being constipated all day, and having two honey and oat granola bars, a tall glass of apple juice, and some taco salad (just meat, cheese and chips) I had a floating bowel movement. I always thought it was the fat content that made it float, even though mine never did. And now that I'm eating more fiber and healthier meals, considering, how in the world do I have floaters? The world may never know.

Anonymous's picture
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Well obviously you need to stop eating red meat.

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points
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You need to return and explain why this is obvious dear anonymous contributor.

How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on!

Anonymous's picture
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Totally agree with you! Sounds to me like the author has a bit of animosity towards veg/vegans! Probably because they failed at being one themselves! It's not rocket science.

Anonymous's picture
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Actually she is right For all you that are dumb enough to state your wrong input

Anonymous's picture
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WOW.....I never knew so many people gave a crap about this kind of thing. I guess I looked it up because I've had floaters for three days now and was concerned because I am a sinker stinker usually.

Anonymous's picture
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I hate it when guests keep flushing the toilet. I myself feel funny when others can hear the second flush when I'm at someones house.

Anonymous's picture
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That was too funny, but haven't seen a correlation between diets and poo-floats/sinks. Stress usually constipates me and by the time I go, I flush and move on and its still 50/50.

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points
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Think about it, what could influence what comes out more than what goes in?

How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on!

Anonymous's picture
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LOL, So funny - this is my favorite comment by far. I mainly produce floaters but have an occasional sinker. I had no idea why this was prior to reading the article and am still none the wiser. However, I have really enjoyed reading the comments and debates.

When you ask people outright it is just too funny watching reactions. The majority of people find it difficult to talk about poop.

Anonymous's picture
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The main thing is you poop! Whether or not it floats or sinks as long as it comes out, it's all good!

Anonymous's picture
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Anyone know why your turds are tapered on one end? It's so your butthole doesn't slam shut!

____________________________________
Moderators comment;

My turds are tapered at both ends! I think that is so my asshole isn't torn by sudden dilation.

Chief Thunderbutt

Anonymous's picture
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I can't stop laughing!

Anonymous's picture
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Important observation;

When I eat lots of vegetables they float and when I eat bread, cheese, pasta, and the like they sink. I have noticed this for years.

Anonymous's picture
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These friggen' comments are hilarious! Thanks for the laugh today!

Anonymous's picture
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Agreed! Better out than in!

Anonymous's picture
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I've been accused of eating so healthy and my poop has always sunk. The only time I got floaters was when I was really constipated and started pooping clear booger-like turds. I really don't think it matters. I am going with the methane producers making floaters.

Anonymous's picture
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Reading all of these made me crap my pants at work. Thanks a lot.

Anonymous's picture
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Hilarious!!! Thanks, I needed that! You should totally be a writer!

Anonymous's picture
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All of this sounds like a 'bunch of shit' to me!

Larryd467@aol.com

Anonymous's picture
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And to think I was going to talk to someone in person about this.

Anonymous's picture
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Please let me preface this long post. I'm not a health nut, a personal trainer or a physician...although I have worked professionally with plenty of them. I'm just a professional Health Educator and Behavior Specialist and can't pass up the opportunity to help other people investigate, learn and, hopefully, feel better.

I think floating poops can be caused by any number of things and depending on the person could be a good thing or sign of a problem. My doctor thought I had a mild case of IBS that was exacerbated by stress. I would have multiple soft poops each day, most floated and I tended to have a good deal of gas.

This year I was feeling worse than usual and having more stomach upset and migraines. I did a search of migraine triggers and started an elimination diet of many possible food triggers. It didn't take long and I noticed my poop more normal, less gas. I also reflected more about my lifestyle and any possible associations. While I am a pretty healthy eater I do tend to eat more bread products when I'm stressed because I am more pressed for time (sandwiches, toast, pizzas, etc.)

After three months I really had the feeling that gluten containing products were the primary cause so I eat one wheat item per day for three days and my symptoms returned. Now I'm off all gluten containing products including hidden sources (do your research, it is "hidden" in many products you wouldn't suspect including vitamins, some lipsticks, glue on envelopes, etc.)

I think a lot of people think they are having floating poops because they are eating more vegetables or eating healthier. Most people here who have mentioned having floating poops and eating healthy have ALSO mentioned that they are eating grains too. So maybe your poop floats not because of the veggies but because of the other things you are eating that you think are healthy for you.

No more gluten and grains for me = normal and sinking poops, very little gas, very few migraines, no joint pain, no IBS symptoms, hypoglycemia much improved, and improved mood not to mention that I have lost weight without trying.

Incidentally, through the elimination diet I learned that soy and pork are also problems for me but cause more of a allergy/histamine response and stomach flip flopping shortly after eating. By far the worst was gluten.

Celiac disease is a more severe case of gluten intolerance but it is not the only condition. You can have a gluten sensitivity that causes less severe symptoms or is not detected by a biopsy (not a good test if your condition is not advanced). Gluten sensitivity or intolerance can show itself in many ways or in ways that are not very obvious at all. It can cause the stomach flip-flopping mentioned here (your body is trying to get rid of an offending substance ASAP), excess gas, nausea, GERD, migraines, joint pain, muscle pain, etc. Gluten sensitivity triggers an inflammatory response in the body and they suspect it can even cause autoimmune and thyroid problems like Hashimoto's disease.

Do some research on gluten intolerance if you:
-have thyroid problems
-have unexplained joint pain
-have fibroymyalgia
-depression (they've even found a relation with schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders)
-Crohns disease
-IBS
-GI issues
-greasy poop
-soft, relatively unformed poop
-a lot of gas
-GERD
-Diabetes Type II
-hypoglycemia
-unexplained weight loss or gain depending on how your body deals with gluten intolerance
-unexplained fatigue
-pancreas issues

You may also want to consider sensitivity to the following which can cause GI problems, inflammation in the body and make gluten problems worse if you have them:
-nightshades - tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, paprika, etc.
-casein/dairy
-soy
-pork
-MSG (monosodium glutamate aka yeast extract, autolyzed yeast)
-avocado/banana (especially if you have a latex sensitivity)
-coconut
-citrus
-artificial sweeteners
-chocolate

Just because you have gas, floating poops, sinking poops, GI issues, etc. does not mean you have gluten or food intolerance but it is something you should consider. There is a test that can be done for gluten tolerance (not a biopsy) where they look for antigens to gluten in your blood. They recommend that you do NOT stop eating gluten before that so that if you do have a problem you are likely to have more antigens present which the test can detect. Some people have a negative test and go on to eliminate gluten anyway with good results so, like all medical tests, there is also some margin of error to be expected.

Science considers to evolve on such subjects and many physicians are not up to date or are even resilient to considering something new. A lot of physicians just don't think out of the box. Just because a physician is a GI specialist doesn't mean they are up to date. Everyone must be their own best health advocate and participate in figuring out what is wrong. Remember, your physician is "hired" by you. If they don't work for you then you can "fire" them and find someone else to worker harder/smarter or look deeper for you.

I suspect sinking, hard poops can also be due to dehydration. You really need substantially more water than than 8 glasses. The number of ounces should be closer to 50% of your weight in lbs. If you weight 150 lbs then you should drink closer to 75 ounces of water per day (this is more than 2 liters which is only about 67 ounces) when you aren't even hot or sweating. If you are hot/sweating then you'll need more than that. If you are 200 lbs then you would need to drink about 100 ounces of water minimum a day. That is equivalent to approximately 3 liters. Imagine a 2 liter bottle of soda and drinking 1 1/2 of those (soda doesn't count because it dehydrates). Seems like a lot but once you get used to it and have sufficient sodium intake to help you absorb you won't spend as much visiting the bathroom to urinate and your body will LOVE you for it.

You can't imagine how good and energized you will feel if you get enough water. I set an alarm on my smart phone to remind me to drink another glass about every 2 1/2 hours until I got in the habit of it. I carry a large Tervis hot/cold mug with a lid almost everywhere I go. It is 20 ounces and I drink at least 5 of those a day...sometimes 6 (yep, about 4 liters a day). I don't weigh as much as 200 lbs and I'm not diabetic but my body wants water and I also lose some through moderate exercise a few times a week.

Anonymous's picture
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A close friend of mine says if she can't poop at all, she has very often taken laxatives because of her problem, and now she seems to be having worse problems. So I don't know what will happen in the end because of the lazy bowel and also if to go for colonoscopy as may have blockage as has a cyst growing into her bowel unfortunately. Can only pray for her.