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Malabsorption Syndrome: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis And Treatment

Jul 18, 2023

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Causes Of Malabsorption Syndrome

Types Of Malabsorption Syndrome

Symptoms Of Malabsorption Syndrome

Risk Factors Of Malabsorption Syndrome

Diagnosis Of Malabsorption Syndrome

Treatment Of Malabsorption Syndrome

Malabsorption Syndrome: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis And Treatment

The term "malabsorption" is used to describe impaired nutrient absorption. It covers difficulties with food digestion and nutrient absorption as well as issues with gastrointestinal tract infections.

One dietary component could be challenging to digest or absorb if you have lactose intolerance brought on by a lactase deficiency, for instance. Almost all nutrients are poorly absorbed when the digestive tract is affected by a widespread illness like celiac disease or Crohn's disease.

Physiologic analyses are frequently utilized to pinpoint the particular causes of malabsorption, despite the fact that presenting symptoms like diarrhea and weight loss may be expected. Malabsorption typically requires a specific etiology to be identified before treatment can start.

Malabsorption Syndrome

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Causes Of Malabsorption Syndrome

The following elements could contribute to malabsorption syndrome:

  • Harm to the gut caused by an infection, inflammation, trauma, or surgery
  • Long-term antibiotic use
  • The presence of additional disorders including cystic fibrosis, Crohn's disease, Chronic pancreatitis, or celiac disease
  • Lack of lactase or sensitivity to lactose
  • A few abnormalities that are congenital, or present at birth, including biliary atresia, when the bile ducts don't form normally and stop the passage of bile from the liver.
  • Certain medications, such as tetracycline, colchicine, or cholestyramine, might harm the lining of the intestine. Radiation therapy is another risk factor.
  • Additionally, digestive issues could be the root of the syndrome. Some foods may be difficult for your stomach to digest because they require specific enzymes or your body might not be able to combine the food you eat with the digestive enzymes and acid your stomach produces.

Types Of Malabsorption Syndrome

Some gastrointestinal conditions, such as celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, result in widespread malabsorption of all nutrients. In some circumstances, you can specifically struggle to absorb a certain nutrient type. These kinds include the following:

  • Malabsorption of Carbohydrates
    • Some persons have sensitivity to one or more types of carbohydrates (sugars). This can predominantly manifest as gas pain and bloating in your abdomen. The bacteria in the colon ferment carbohydrates that aren't completely absorbed in the small intestine. They are converted by bacteria into gases and short-chain fatty acids. Intestinal gas is brought on by the gases, while fatty stools are brought on by the short-chain fatty acids.
  • Malabsorptive of fat
    • This type of malabsorption is widespread, perhaps because there are so many possible reasons. Steatorrhea, or fatty stools, are the result of fats that your small intestine is unable to absorb. The stools of people are particularly foul, fatty, and runny. They might float and be of a light color. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are also poorly absorbed as a result of fat malabsorption.
  • Protein Malnutrition
    • Unless you have a specific intolerance, protein malabsorption rarely happens on its own. Intolerances to milk proteins and gluten intolerance.
  • Malabsorption of bile acids
    • Sometimes bile deficiency brought on by gallbladder, bile duct, or liver problems contributes to fat malabsorption. However, occasionally it is caused by a different issue, which might result in the passage of residual bile acids from your small intestine to your colon. Called bile acid malabsorption, a side effect. Expired bile salts cause your colon to release water, which results in persistent diarrhea.

Symptoms Of Malabsorption Syndrome

The signs and symptoms of malabsorption might vary depending on the underlying reason, the degree of the illness, and the patient's overall health.

Following are some instances of possible immediate symptoms of malabsorption:

  • Stomach distention and bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Gas
  • Steatorrhea, which refers to pale to white or visibly "greasy" feces
  • Stomach ache
  • Weakness

To keep a healthy physique, people require nutrients from their food. They could face malabsorption's more severe long-term repercussions if their body is unable to adequately absorb these nutrients. These comprise:

  • Bone discomfort, which can lead to easily breaking bones,
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Muscular wasting
  • A sore tongue
  • Weight loss                             

Risk Factors Of Malabsorption Syndrome

Malabsorption syndrome risk factors include:

  • The use of certain drugs, such as laxatives or mineral oil
  • History of cystic fibrosis in the family or malabsorption
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Intestinal surgery
  • Travel to the Caribbean, India, or specific regions of Southeast Asia

Diagnosis Of Malabsorption Syndrome

A doctor will inquire about a patient's symptoms in order to diagnose a malabsorption problem.

They may inquire about the timing of the onset of the symptoms, what makes them worse or better, and the kinds of existing medical illnesses a person may have.

Based on this, a doctor might suggest a number of tests to rule in or out a diagnosis.

There are tests include:

  • Full blood counts and electrolyte balances are two blood tests that doctors could order. A doctor may be able to determine whether and to what extent a patient is undernourished by checking the blood's protein levels.
  • Stool tests: A doctor may ask for a stool sample to check for the presence of extra fat in the stool. High amounts of fat may indicate poor dietary fat absorption.
  • Breath tests: A doctor frequently administers a breath test to patients who may be lactose intolerant to check for the presence of hydrogen gas. If the intestines are unable to properly absorb lactose, an excessive amount of hydrogen gas will be produced.
  • Imaging studies: A doctor may occasionally request imaging tests to examine the structure and activity of the digestive system.
  • To inspect the intestinal lining and obtain tissue samples in order to diagnose specific disorders, a doctor may also advise an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (upper GI scope) or a colonoscopy (lower GI scope).

Treatment Of Malabsorption Syndrome

Symptoms like diarrhea will probably be addressed first by your doctor as part of your treatment. Loperamide and other medications may be helpful.

The vitamins and fluids that your body hasn't been able to absorb will also need to be replaced, according to your doctor. They might keep an eye out for these dehydration warning signs:

Dry mouth, skin, or tongue, increased thirst, decreased urine output

After that, your doctor will treat you according to the cause of the absorption issue. For instance, if lactose intolerance is discovered, your doctor would probably recommend that you avoid milk and other dairy products or take a lactase enzyme tablet.

Creating a treatment plan with a doctor and dietician will help you manage your symptoms of malabsorption and enable your body to receive the nutrients and fluids to function properly.

A dietician may be recommended at this point by your doctor. Your dietician will come up with a treatment plan to make sure you're getting the nutrition your body requires. Your nutritionist might advise:

  • Enzyme Supplements. Your body can utilize these supplements to aid in the absorption of nutrients that it is unable to do on its own.
  • Vitamins supplements. To make up for nutrients that are not being absorbed by your intestine, your dietician may suggest taking large amounts of vitamins or other nutrients.
  • Diet adjustments. Your dietitian may change your diet to add more or less specific foods or nutrients. To reduce diarrhea, for instance, you could be told to eat fewer meals heavy in fat, while eating more foods high in potassium can help you maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes.

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