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Malabsorption

Malabsorption is difficulty absorbing nutrients from food.

Causes

Many diseases can cause malabsorption. Malabsorption is usually the inability to absorb certain sugars, fats, proteins, or vitamins from food. It can also involve a general malabsorption of food.

Some of the causes of malabsorption include:

Vitamin B12 malabsorption may be due to:

Symptoms

  • Bloating, cramping, and gas
  • Bulky stools
  • Chronic diarrhea (may not occur with vitamin malabsorption)
  • Failure to thrive
  • Fatty stools (steatorrhea)
  • Muscle wasting
  • Weight loss

Malabsorption can affect growth and development, or it can lead to specific illnesses.

Exams and Tests

Your doctor or nurse will examine you. Tests that may be done may include:

Treatment

Vitamin and nutrient replacement is often necessary.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outlook depends on the condition causing malabsorption.

Possible Complications

Long-term malabsorption can result in:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you notice symptoms of malabsorption.

Prevention

Preventive methods depend on the condition causing malabsorption.

References

Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds.Cecil Medicine

Hogenauer C, Hammer HF. Maldigestion and malabsorption. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease

Update Date 8/10/2012

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