Malabsorption is when the body has trouble absorbing certain nutrients. Not getting enough nutrients from food can cause problems. These problems can happen even when someone is eating as they should.
The liver makes a fluid called bile. It helps break down food in the intestines. The pancreas also makes an enzyme. The freed nutrients can then pass into the bloodstream through the wall of the intestine. Malabsorption may be caused by problems:
Your chances of malabsorption are higher for:
- Having any of the problems listed above
- Using laxatives
- Using antibiotics
- Prior surgery on the intestines
- Alcohol use disorder
- Travel to countries that put you at risk for an infection from a parasite
Malabsorption may cause:
- Weight loss
- Bloating and swelling in the belly
- Bulky, foul-smelling stools
- Weak muscles
- Feeling tired
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
You may need:
Treatment depends on the cause. Sometimes, it will fix any problems with malabsorption.
You may need to make up for lost nutrients. This can be done with food or supplements. . You may need to eat more vitamins, minerals, fats, or proteins. In some cases, nutrients may be given by IV.
A dietitian will be able to help you.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 05/2018 -
- Update Date: 08/13/2018 -