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Malabsorption Syndrome

Condition Basics

What is malabsorption syndrome?

Malabsorption syndrome is the inability to absorb nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream.

What causes it?

Causes of malabsorption syndrome may include:

  • Diseases affecting the intestine itself, such as celiac disease.
  • Absence or low levels of certain digestive enzymes.
  • Diseases of the pancreas, such as chronic pancreatitis or cystic fibrosis.
  • Diseases caused by parasites, such as giardiasis or worms.
  • Changes in the bacteria normally found in the intestinal tract.
  • Surgery that shortens the length of the small intestine.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of malabsorption syndrome may include:

  • Gas, bloating, and vague abdominal discomfort.
  • Frequent diarrhea and foul-smelling stools.
  • Weakness.
  • Weight loss.

Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms to determine the cause and recommend treatment.

How is malabsorption syndrome treated?

Treatment for malabsorption syndrome may include a special diet, medicine to replace intestinal enzymes or reduce spasms, and vitamin or mineral supplements, such as B12 and iron.

Credits

Current as of: March 21, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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