Loose Fluffy Stools: 9 Best Causes

Do you have any symptoms of indigestion? Do you have a complaint about loose fluffy stools? If so, you should read further.

So, what causes loose fluffy stools?

It can occur because of various reasons. But most commonly, they occur due to diarrhea. Loose fluffy stools can occur due to IBS, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, hyperthyroidism, dumping syndrome, cystic fibrosis, gluten allergy and various other reasons. 

In this article, we will tell you the causes of loose fluffy stools. Stay with us till the end. 

What are Loose Fluffy Stools? 

Loose and fluffy stools are the stools that are soft and shapeless. They may be mushy and watery too. Mostly, they occur after eating food. But they can also happen throughout the day. 

If you have a complaint of loose fluffy stools for a long time, it is known as chronic loose stools. But sometimes, it can occur after having a meal known as postprandial loose stools. They may occur once or twice.

loose-fluffy-stools

Loose stools that occur after having a meal can occur because of gastrointestinal infection, lactose intolerance, and food poisoning. Sometimes spices can also cause loose fluffy stools. 

To differentiate the nature of your complaint regarding stool consistency, you need to check its frequency. If it occurs daily with no break, it is known as chronic loose stools. 

That may occur because of other reasons. But if it happens once or twice after eating, it may occur because of food poisoning.

What Are the Causes of Loose Stool?

You might be experiencing two types of loose stools:

  • Chronic loose stool
  • Infrequent loose stool

Now, let’s take a look at the culprits behind them. 

Causes of Chronic Loose Stool

Loose stools can occur in anyone, adults or children, at any stage of life. However, some people are more prone to them, such as those having health conditions, such as:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Celiac disease
  • Dumping syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Bile acid malabsorption

Take a glance at their detailed description below: 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome 

Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a group of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract that cause alternative diarrhea and constipation- change in bowel movement. It may also cause abdominal pain and bloating. 

irritable-bowel-syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome can cause loose stools, especially when the patient is awake. When it occurs during sleep, it may happen because of other reasons. Patients having irritable bowel syndrome may also complain about blood in the stool.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease, also known as gluten enteropathy, is a condition when the person cannot digest gluten- a kind of protein present in wheat, rye, and barley. 

If people having celiac disease ingest gluten, their immune system may get activated and cause adverse symptoms. People having celiac disease often complain of fatigue that may happen because of malabsorption. 

People having celiac disease may often have soft stools when they ingest gluten. However, it can be avoided by refraining from gluten intake.

Make sure if you have celiac disease, you eat a gluten-free diet.

Ulcerative Colitis 

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes soreness and inflammation inside your innermost lining of the digestive tract, the colon, and the rectum. The symptoms of ulcerative colitis may not be acute and develop gradually.

The inflammation and soreness inside the large intestine occur because of ulcerative colitis. Therefore your body cannot digest food, eventually leading to loose and fluffy stools. Sometimes they may be liquid.

Bile-Acid Malabsorption

Bile is a fluid secreted by the liver to digest food that contains bile acids. Bile acid malabsorption is a condition when your body can not reabsorb the bile acids from the gallbladder. 

It leads to excessive bile acids in your intestines, which in turn leads to loose stools and diarrhea. 

Dumping Syndrome 

Dumping syndrome is a condition in which the contents of your stomach move too quickly to the duodenum after eating a meal. It causes symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, bloating, increased heart rate, and feeling lightheaded. 

dumping-syndrome

In dumping syndrome, gastric emptying happens- when food moves too quickly from your stomach pouch to the intestine undigested, which in turn causes loose stools. 

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition of your thyroid gland in which it produces too much thyroid hormone, which affects the metabolism. Along with loose stools, it can cause other symptoms, such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Intolerance to heat
  • Sleep problems
  • Thin hair 
  • Anxiety 
  • Tremors
  • Irritability 
  • Pancreatitis 

Your pancreas is an organ that secretes insulin and digestive enzymes and bicarbonate. Pancreatitis is a condition when inflammation of your pancreas occurs, which can cause fluffy stools because of indigestion. 

In pancreatitis, your body can not absorb fats, which causes oily stools that are hard to flush. Pancreatitis can occur because of reasons such as gallstones, cystic fibrosis, hyperthyroidism, alcoholism, hypertriglyceridemia, abdominal surgery, and pancreatic cancer. 

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition in which mucus build-up occurs in your lungs and digestive tract. It can affect your breathing and digestion, leading to loose stools. Other symptoms that can occur because of cystic fibrosis are:

  • Repeated chest infections
  • Difficulty in gaining weight 
  • Persistent cough 
  • Shortness of breath 

Causes of Infrequent Loose Stools

The causes for infrequent loose fluffy stools are:

Diet

Consuming certain foods, spices, supplements, drinks, and foods, can cause loose stools. Sometimes the body can not absorb certain kinds of sugars, such as lactose and sugar alcohol, leading to diarrhea or loose stools. 

Sugar alcohol can be present in various fruits, vegetables, and artificial flavorings. Sometimes the small intestine can not digest sugars, which can, in turn, lead to loose stools. 

Infections

Bacteria and other microorganisms can cause infections of the digestive tract, hence causing food poisoning. Eating contaminated food or undercooked food can cause infection. Therefore, you must make sure the food you eat is cooked under hygienic conditions and avoid eating undercooked food. 

What are the Symptoms of Loose Fluffy Stools?

You need to understand the difference between loose stools and diarrhea. When you have diarrhea, you have repeated episodes of loose and watery stools. But you may get loose fluffy stools infrequently from time to time, which means it is not diarrhea.

However, if loose stools continue to occur for three to four days with no break, it can be diarrhea. 

The common symptoms of loose fluffy stools are:

  • Passing out shapeless stools 
  • Mushy stools
  • Watery stools

The following gastrointestinal symptoms may accompany loose stools:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain 
  • Abdominal cramps

What Are The Complications of Loose Stools?

Loose stools can cause you to lose water from your body, eventually leading to dehydration. To cope with it, you can drink oral rehydration salt and make sure you intake other fluid too in an ample amount. 

Dehydration needs to be treated promptly as it is a life-threatening condition. The symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Feeling dizzy 
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry skin 
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Low blood pressure
  • Not urinating or passing out dark yellowish to orange urine

When you lose water, you may also lose electrolytes. If electrolyte imbalance occurs, it can lead to a life-threatening condition called arrhythmia- abnormal heart rhythm. 

Another complication of loose stools can be malnutrition- a condition when your body has difficulty digesting and absorbing certain nutrients. When your body can not absorb vitamins and minerals, it can become deficient. 

The symptoms of malabsorption are:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Oily or foul-smelling stools
  • Weakness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Bloating 
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea or loose stools
  • Stomach distention 

If you have any symptoms of malnutrition, consult with your healthcare provider. They can help you in coping with it. 

When Should You See a Doctor?

Sometimes, loose fluffy stools get better on their own. But when they become chronic, lasting for a long time, it can indicate some underlying health condition. Therefore, do not delay the visit to the healthcare provider. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should visit the healthcare provider soon. 

  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Blood in stools 
  • Stool that is black or looks like coal tar
  • Long-lasting loose fluffy stools
  • High-grade fever with increased heart rate
  • Confusion 
  • Dizziness or fainting 
  • Symptoms of dehydration 
  • Severe stomach cramps that do not go away
  • Chills

How Loose Stools Can Be Treated?

The treatment of loose stools depends on its cause. If it occurs due to infections or inflammation, your healthcare providers will prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, respectively.

In most cases, your healthcare providers may change your diet routine and increase fiber intake, which can help prevent loose stools. They will also conduct examinations and tests to know about the exact cause of loose stools. 

The primary treatment options for getting rid of loose stools are:

  • Take an antidiarrheal medication such as Imodium. It affects the motility of your gastrointestinal tract, hence preventing loose stools. 
  • Stay hydrated
  • Consume more fiber. However, do not over-consume, as it can lead to adverse effects. 
  • Incorporate honey into your diet. 
  • Avoid consuming triggers. It can be any food, drink, milk, spices, or fruit. 

The long-term treatment options for loose stools are: 

  • Take probiotics that are available over the counter at pharmacies. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help in the digestion of food.
  • Dietary changes can help prevent occurence of loose stools.
  • Do not forget to take medications prescribed by the doctor on time.
  • Loose stools, if they occur because of infection, may go in some days upon getting the appropriate treatment. 

But if they occur due to pancreatitis, you may need to get hospitalized for the treatment, and it may take some time to go. 

Sometimes loose stools have no such cure. However, the underlying condition can be managed symptomatically.

FAQs

What is the exact cause of loose stools?

Answer: Loose stools can occur due to various reasons. It can be because of infection or inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. 

How long will loose stool last? 

Answer: The duration of loose stool differs from condition to condition. It can be infrequent- that occur and subside in some days, and chronic- that occur for a long time. 

What Are The Complications of Loose Stools?

Answer: The two common complications of loose stools are dehydration due to fluid loss and malabsorption because of the absorption of food. 

Conclusion 

Loose fluffy stools may occur due to various reasons. Sometimes they may go on their own. But if they persist, visit the health care provider soon as it can be a symptom of some underlying health condition.

If you have a complaint of loose stools drink plenty of fluids to replenish fluid and electrolyte loss.

Dr Hafeez Arshad

Dr Hafeez Arshad

This is Dr. Hafeez. I have done my M.Phil in Pharmacology. I am a healthcare professional. My core competencies focus on writing different types of research articles/blogs regarding health sciences.

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