Two weeks following a tramatic event I started having floating stools and it has continued for 6 weeks straight. I have also noticed slight discomfort under my right rib cage from time to time (I tend to push on it and it feels better), usually after eating a large meal or drinking a little extra alcohol. The floating stools look compacted and are difficult to flush. When this all started they were darker brown with a strong odor and recently lighter brown and not as smelly. I have a hunch it might be anxiety because 5 years ago I was stressed about something (ended up doing the barium thing and the upper deal with the camera) after they found elevated fat content in my stool. They said everything was fine and it eventually went away. Should I continue to wait it out or is it time to call the Dr.
Floating stools are seen in different situations. Most are diet-related accompany an acute gastrointestinal infection. A change in dietary habits can lead to an increase in the amount of gas produced by bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
Similarly, acute gastrointestinal infections can result in increased gas content in the intestines, due to rapid movement of food through the GI tract. One wrong idea is that floating stools are caused by an increase in the fat content of the stool. In fact, it is increased gas levels in the stool that make it less dense and allow it to float.
Another cause of floating stools is malabsorption. More than two weeks of diarrhea with floating stools is often seen in people suffering from malabsorption, a dysfunction in the GI tract that affects the body's ability to digest and absorb fat and other types of foods.
Increased levels of nutrients in the stool which have not been absorbed by the GI trac are supplied to the normal bacteria that live in the gut, which in turn produce more gas. This results in more gas-rich stools that float.
It can also be caused by a number of diseases
Sprue or celiac disease
Fatty stools with no known cause
Short bowel syndrome
If you are not experiencing alot of gas, then you should have a doctor look into it. Bloodwork and a colonscopy would be a good place to start.
Thank you for your very informative reply, I've had gas to a certain extent but not overwhelming. I had a very tramatic event happen about eight weeks ago and six weeks ago this all started. I'll make an appointment and get things checked out.
I have Crohn's - when I get a flare, i.e. inflammation in the intestinal tract, my stools float and are hard to flush away. I usually have to up my meds (methotrexate and cipro) and stay away from fibrous foods. This sorts it out...until the next time!
It might be that you need to see a gastro-enterologist to diagnose the exact cause.
I don't ever remember having floating stools until last April 2008 when I lost my job. At that time, the stress was unbearable, even though I was in excellent health, trim, and a 35-mile-per-week runner. Thus, I agree that sufficient stress and anxiety can cause floating stools. Floaters can also be caused by a number of non-lethal diseases or medical conditions.
However, as a safeguard, I decided to go for an immediate physical to rule out more sinister causes. That checkup determined I had an irritable bowl (which was exacerbated by the increased stress of losing my job). A test of five blood panels---including a test for metabolic enzymes---showed I was producing sufficient metabolic enzymes. This result indicated I did not have a problem with my pancreas.
Floating stools should always be checked out to rule out cancer. One of the most dangerous that can cause "floaters" is pancreatic cancer (survival rate no higher than 4%!). With pancreatic cancer, your only hope of survival is early detection BEFORE the cancer manifests additional symptoms (like lower back pain in the kidney area). This is one reason why people should have yearly physicals (to enhance early detection and increase the cure rate).
Bear in mind that the incidence of cancer INCREASES with age.
I have had floating stools for at least five (5) years!! Iev always had gas and bloating. I thought that it was normal because i follow a non stict vegetarian diet. I eat seafood, im lactose intolerant!! Just found out that my vitamin B12 level is 170, thats extremly low.
I wouldn't be so concerned with floating stools as I would be with fat in stools. Fat as far as I know is only caused by the pancreas not releasing enough digestive enzymes. In proper digestion in also a form of malnutrition which would cause floating stools. Have you tried some simple over the counter digestive enzyme supplements?
Only a small percentage of pancreatic cancer causes floating stools because for this to happen the cancer has to inadvertently block the ducts or be so pervasive that it blocks enyzmes from getting into the digestive system. So this would be random chance for the cancer to be in that spot.
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