Doc gives straight “poop” on floating feces

Turner---floating-fecesFloat or sink?  Not really a question I’ve pondered with friends, but apparently it was a point of discussion for some students in the 70s.  Youcan check out the original article written by Dr. Spencer Turner in the Lantern Archives. Interestingly, as I was reading through this column, it did remind me of a presentation I sat through back in the late 80s.  A guest speaker came to a division luncheon and spoke on – yes floaters versus sinkers.  Not really the lunch time conversation I was expecting, but entertaining none the less.  The basic premise of his presentation was that you could measure your health by whether you had 6 inch sinkers or 8 inch floaters.

I would have expected the 8 inch floater to be an indication of health – thinking that the more water and veggies you were eating the less dense the result, but that is not the case.  It’s the 6 inch sinker that’s an indicator of health.

Floaters can be caused by a number of reasons, but the most common are:

  • Poor digestion – the body has to work harder at breaking down food which creates more gas and as a result gas-filled stools.
  • Gastrointestinal infections – cause the digestive system to flush out harmful bacteria and viruses, making food move through the colon too quickly and as a result gas-filled stools
  • Change of diet – eating more veggies and the like is tougher for the body to break down and as a result gas-filled stools

Hmm – did you see a theme?

Just in the case the floater versus sinker conversation doesn’t provide enough fodder, here’s some more tidbits from WebMd:

  • Healthy stool comes in all shapes and sizes, curvy, sausage, snake-like, and more. You need to seek out a doc if it looks thin and narrow like a pencil for several weeks.
  • Healthy stools come in a variety of colors, yellow, tan, green and more. Usually the change in color is a result of medication or food.
  • Tarry, sticky, black poop can be sign of bleeding or injury in the stomach or parts of the intestine. Always get this checked out by a doctor.
  • It’s OK if you don’t poop every day. Your body knows what it’s doing.  If, however, you have 3 or less BMS in a week, then you may be experiencing constipation.

Tina Comston, M.Ed.

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