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Malabsorption Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Malabsorption syndrome can affect macronutrients(eg, proteins, fats, carbohydrates),  micronutrients( eg, vitamins, minerals or both causing excessive fecal excretion, nutritional deficiencies. Malabsorption may be global with impaired absorption of almost all nutrients that are small intestine.

The human gastrointestinal tract digest and absorbs dietary nutrients that are small intestine with remarkable efficiency. A typical western diet ingested by an adult in one day includes approximately 100g of fat, 400 g of carbohydrates, 100g of proteins, 2 L of fluid and requirement of the sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, vitamins and other elements. When you eat healthy food, you expect your body to reap the benefits of the vitamins and minerals but, In condition call malabsorption means your body is not able to take in many of the nutrients from the food you eat. Those are the causes of malabsorption syndrome.

Malabsorption Syndrome

Malabsorption can cause serious complications, including a higher chance of infection and bone fractures. Malabsorption syndrome refers to a number of disorders, in which the small intestine can not absorb enough of certain nutrients and fluids. Here we discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of the malabsorption syndrome.

Malabsorption syndrome, causes, symptoms, treatment

Causes of Malabsorption Syndrome

There are many different malabsorptions disorders, each having different underlying causes that follow:

Possible Causes:

  1. The factors that may cause malabsorption syndrome include:
  2. Damage to the intestine, inflammation, trauma or surgery.
  3. Prolonged use of antibiotics.
  4. Lactase deficiency, or lactose intolerance.
  5. A certain defect that is congenital, or present at birth, such as biliary atresia, when the bile ducts don’t develop normally and prevent the bile from the liver.
  6. The disease of the gallbladder, liver or pancreas.
  7. Parasitic diseases.
  8. Radiation therapy, that can injure the lining of the intestine.
  9. The cystic fibrosis and other diseases that affect the pancreas.
  10. Intestinal disorders such as  celiac disease.
  11. You absorb that the rest of your nutrients through the large intestine.
Malabsorption Causes
(fig. cause of malabsorption syndrome)

Rare Causes:

  1. There are some uncommon disorders that can result in malabsorption. One of these is called short bowel syndrome(SBS). This makes the intestine less able to absorb nutrients. SBS may be a birth defect or it may cause by the surgery.
  2. Malabsorption causes may include, tropical sprue. These diseases may be related to environmental factors, such as toxins in food, infection or parasites.
  3. And rarer causes of malabsorption is Whipple’s diseases, which is a result of bacterial infection.

Malabsorption Syndrome, intestine

Symptoms of Malabsorption Syndrome

Symptoms of malabsorption syndrome are caused when unabsorbed nutrients that are small intestine pass through the digestive tract. Here the following symptoms:

  1. Fats: You may have light-colored, foul-smelling stools that are in a light color and bulky. Stool that is difficult to flush and may float or stick to the sides of the toilet bowl.
  2. Protein: If you may have dry hair, hair loss or fluid retention. Fluid retention is also known as edema and will manifest as swelling, frequent diarrhea, weight loss, scaly skin rashes that cause can arises.
  3. Certain sugars: If you may have bloating, gas or explosive diarrhea.
  4. Certain vitamins: You may have anemia, low blood pressure, weight loss or muscle wasting.


Malabsorption Syndrome, symptoms
(fig. symptoms of malabsorption syndrome)

Malabsorption Syndrome Treatment

  • The doctor will start the treatment by addressing symptoms diarrhea, medication such as loperamide can help.
  • The doctor will also want to replace the nutrients and fluid that your body has been unable to absorb. That can include increased thirst, low urine output, and dry mouth, skin or tongue.
  • The doctor will provide care based on the cause of the absorption problem. If you find to have lactose tolerance, the doctor will likely advise you to avoid milk and dairy products or take lactase enzyme tablets.
  • In this situation, the doctor will refer you to a dietitian. The dietitian will create a treatment plan that will help you make sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs. The dietitian may recommend like this:

  • Enzyme Supplements: The supplements can help your body absorbs the nutrients it can not absorb on its own.
  • Vitamin Supplements: The dietitian may recommend high doses of vitamins or other nutrients to make up for those that are not being absorbed by your intestine.
  • Diet Changes:  The dietitian can adjust your diet to increase or decrease certain foods or nutrients. The dietitian may be advised you to avoid foods high in fat to decrease diarrhea and increase food high in potassium to help balance your electrolytes.


Malabsorption Syndrome, Treatment

Diagnosing malabsorption Syndrome

The doctor may be suspect about malabsorption syndrome if you have chronic diarrhea or nutrients deficiencies or have a lost significant amount of weight despite eating a healthy diet, a certain test use to confirm the diagnosis. These tests are the following:

Stool Tests: The stool tests can measure fact in samples of stool or feces. That tests are the most reliable because fat is usually present in the stool of someone with malabsorption syndrome.

Blood Tests: The blood tests measure the level of specific nutrients in your blood, such as vitamin B-20, vitamin D, iron, folate, calcium, protein, phosphorus, and albumin.

Those nutrients may not necessarily mean you have malabsorption syndrome. It means you are not choosing foods with a healthy level of nutrients.

Breath Tests: The breath tests used to test for lactose intolerance.  If the lactose is not being absorbed, it enters the colon. Bacterias in the colon break down the lactose and produce hydrogen gas. Excess hydrogen gas absorbs from your intestine, into your bloodstream, and then into your lungs. Then you will exhale the gas.

Imaging Tests: The imaging tests that take pictures of your digestive system, may be done to look for structural problems. The doctor could request a CT scan to look for the thickening of the wall of your small intestine, which could be a sign of  Crohn’s diseases.

Biopsy: If you have a biopsy and your doctor suspects you have abnormal cells in the lining of your small intestine. A biopsy will likely be done using an endoscopy. A tube is inserted into your mouth and sent through your esophagus and stomach and into your small intestine to take a small sample of cells.

malabsorption syndrome, treatment


The human small intestine does most of the absorption of the foods that you eat. If anyone has a malabsorption syndrome, that small intestine can not absorb nutrients from the foods. Malabsorption syndrome can very different symptoms, they can include chronic diarrhea, abnormal stools, weight loss, and gas. The doctor may use the lab, imaging, or other tests to make a diagnosis. The treatment of malabsorption depends on the causes.