Can excess gas cause floating stools?

Q. Can excess gas be a reason for floating stools?

Answered by
Dr. Sadaf Mustafa
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Apr 28, 2016 and last reviewed on: Jun 28, 2023

Hi doctor,

I am a 47 year old male. I have noticed floating stools for about two months. This may have been going on longer, but I just noticed two months ago and historically, this is not normal for me. Consistency is solid with somewhat limited quantity and more like you would expect with constipation about 70% of the time. It is soft, but not loose at all. Color is normal brown. The only other symptom I have noticed is that my stomach is quite noisy right after eating or drinking. I have no weight loss or pain. I eat low-carb most of the time, but not all the time. I recently had a checkup including basic blood work. My doctor said this is usually caused by excess gas and did not give it a second thought. Should I ask for more tests? My father died at the age of 52 from pancreatic cancer. So, I have some worries about this. I have attached all my reports for your reference.



Welcome to Your symptoms are consistent with malabsorption of fat and lactose intolerance. There are various causes of malabsorption and indeed lactose intolerance, pancreatic insufficiency and gallbladder dysfunction are some of the well known causes. Bloating and soft stool may also occur in dyspepsia. First we have to prove that you have indeed malabsorption. Usually the investigation of choice is stool fat content and getting hydrogen breath test for lactose intolerance may also be helpful. There are various other blood tests as well which could be obtained including lipase and amylase. I would suggest reviewing your diet, travel history, dairy intake, eliminating lactose from diet (use lactose free products) and maintaining a food diary to watch out for symptoms. If you are still having issue after a month then consider doing the above mentioned investigations. Your concern about pancreatic cancer is valid. Since you do not have weight loss, appetite changes or jaundice, the question would be would you use CT scan to screen for pancreatic cancer. The answer would depend upon weighing the risk of radiation exposure. This is an area of dispute in literature and I would suggest having a discussion with your primary care physician.

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