Malabsorption syndrome is the inability to absorb nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream.
Causes 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, such as removal of the gallbladder, that alters or reduces the length of the intestinal tract.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Symptoms may include:
- Gas, bloating, and vague abdominal discomfort.
- Frequent diarrhea and foul-smelling stools.
- Weight loss.
Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms to determine the cause and recommend treatment. Treatment may include a special diet, medicine to replace intestinal enzymes or reduce spasms, and vitamin or mineral supplements, such as B12 and iron.
Current as of: August 12, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine