Malabsorption syndrome is a disorder in which the body is unable to absorb nutrients from foods. Nutrients derived from foods mainly include carbohydrates, fats, minerals, proteins, and vitamins, etc. Malabsorption syndrome usually occurs as a result of impaired normal digestive function of the body. The symptoms caused by this can vary from person to person. Symptoms resulting from this usually include prolonged diarrhea, unusual types of stool, reduced body weight, and gas. Doctors can do some type of lab test and imaging test etc. to test this condition. There are also some causes of malabsorption syndrome, which are not possible to prevent. However, taking some precautions can reduce the risk of having malabsorption syndrome. Laxatives and alcohol should not be used too much as both of them greatly increase the risk of Malabsorption Syndrome.
The condition is treated according to the cause of malabsorption syndrome. During the treatment, the doctor advises the patient to avoid such food, which can cause malabsorption. Apart from this, they replenish the reduced enzyme in the patient’s body and give medicines to increase appetite. Malabsorption syndrome leads to malnutrition and weight loss. Even the body of some patients stops developing normally.
What is Malabsorption Syndrome –
What is Malabsorption?
When the body cannot absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from the intestinal system into the bloodstream, this condition is called malabsorption (malabsorption) syndrome. Most of the food you eat is digested by your small intestine. If you have malabsorption syndrome, your small intestine cannot absorb nutrients from food.
Symptoms of malabsorption syndrome –
What are the symptoms of malabsorption syndrome?
Symptoms may also vary according to the cause of malabsorption. Apart from this, how serious the condition is and how long a person has this disease, etc. Its symptoms also depend on it. The following symptoms are commonly seen in malabsorption syndrome:
- Yellow or white stool
- Appears to be smooth in stool texture
- Feeling tired
- Stomach cramps
- Feeling of weakness
When should the doctor see?
By the way, everyone may feel symptoms like flatulence, nausea, and even diarrhea. But if a person is having any such stomach problem continuously, then they should get a checkup done by a doctor.
If there is bleeding in the stool or mucus of a person, in such a situation, a doctor should be seen as soon as possible. The color of the stool becomes darker due to blood coming in the stool.
If any of the following signs are seen in a person, then they should go to the doctor:
- Excessive flatulence
- Frequent diarrhea
- Tongue ulcers
- Feeling of weakness
- Loss of body weight
- The doctor examines the patient’s symptoms and signs and tries to diagnose the condition.
Causes and risk factors of malabsorption syndrome –
Why does malabsorption syndrome occur?
Malabsorption syndrome can have many causes, ranging from common infections to birth defects. There are many different disorders related to malabsorption, which develop due to different reasons. Malabsorption syndrome can also be caused by digestive problems. In some cases, the stomach stops making enzymes that help digest certain types of food. Also, in some cases, your body is not able to mix well with the food and enzymes that you eat, which also leads to Malabsorption Syndrome.
There are also some types of diseases that can cause malabsorption syndrome, such as Tropical sprue. The disease can also be caused by environmental factors, such as food toxins, infections, and parasites.
Whipple’s disease can also be a fairly rare cause of malabsorption syndrome, a disease that is primarily a type of bacterial infection. The following are some other factors that can cause malabsorption syndrome:
- Some types of disorders that develop congenital or during birth, such as biliary atresia, in which case the bile ducts do not develop normally and stop the bile from flowing from the liver.
- Diseases related to gall bladder, liver, or pancreas.
- Parasitic diseases.
- Intestinal damage due to injury due to infection, inflammation, irritation or operation, etc.
- Long-term use of antibiotics
- Radiation therapy, which damages the inner lining of the intestine.
- Other diseases such as Crohn’s disease, pancreatitis, celiac disease, or cystic fibrosis.
- Lactose deficiency or lactose intolerance.
- There are also some types of medicines that damage the inner lining of the intestine such as tetracycline, colchicine, and cholestyramine.
When does the risk of having malabsorption syndrome increase?
There are some conditions in which the risk of having Malabsorption Syndrome is greatly increased, such as:
- Celiac disease (in this case the risk of malabsorption increases significantly.
- Using laxatives or taking long-term antibiotics.
- Undergone intestinal surgery.
- Cystic fibrosis (in this disease, a thick mucus is released from your body, which affects the lungs and digestive system.)
- Crohn’s Disease (Due to severe inflammation in this disease, the intestines begin to have a lot of difficulty in absorbing nutrients.)
- Visiting places where parasites affecting the intestines are quite prevalent.
Malabsorption Syndrome Prevention –
How to prevent Malabsorption Syndrome?
Especially if you have celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, or any other chronic disease, malabsorption syndrome cannot be prevented. Life-long illnesses for several consecutive months are called “chronic illnesses”. You should keep consulting a doctor to keep Malabsorption Syndrome under control.
Malabsorption syndrome can be prevented only when it is possible to prevent its internal causes (such as infection, etc.). You should use laxatives and antibiotics only when necessary and carefully. Antibiotics should be used in a limited range as they have adverse effects on the functioning of the intestines.
Alcohol and other intoxicants should not be consumed. If you are going to someplace where you are suspecting water hygiene, then only drink filter water that is sealed. Apart from this, eat only cooked food in such areas and do not eat salads and foods washed with ordinary water.
Malabsorption Syndrome Diagnosis –
How is Malabsorption Syndrome tested?
When the doctor thinks you have malabsorption syndrome, they need to get information about your symptoms and the food you eat. Your doctor may also do some of the following tests to find out the cause of the condition:
- Stool Test:
If a large amount of fat is found in your stool, then it means you have malabsorption syndrome.
- Lactose Hydrogen Breath Test:
During this test you are fed a solution mixed with milk, after that with the help of a test, the amount of hydrogen in your breath is detected. This test shows how well you are able to absorb nutrients.
During this test, the doctor uses an instrument called an endoscope. It is a thin and flexible tube with a camera mounted on its end, the intestines are examined with the help of this device.
- Sweat test:
Diseases such as cystic fibrosis can be detected by taking a sweat sample and examining it. Due to cystic fibrosis, the enzymes in the body start decreasing, which helps in digesting food.
- Small intestine biopsy:
During this test, a small sample of small intestine tissue is removed and examined. Infection is detected by examining the tissues.
Treatment of Malabsorption Syndrome –
How to treat malabsorption syndrome?
Malabsorption syndrome is treated on the basis of its internal causes. Timely testing and treatment of internal problems that cause malabsorption syndrome are necessary. Initially, doctors will ask to avoid foods that can cause malabsorption, such as lactose and gluten-rich foods.
Doctors can examine the nutrients present in foods so that the right food can be chosen to increase the nutrients in the patient’s body, Doctors can also check for signs and symptoms associated with lack of water in your body, these include more thirst, less urination, and dry mouth, skin, and tongue, etc.
Doctors take care of you according to the cause of malabsorption syndrome. For example, if you have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, the doctor advises you not to eat milk and products made from it, and to take lactase enzyme tablets.
The doctor may refer you to the dietician. Dieticians prepare a special diet for you so that your body gets the nutrients it needs. Your dietitian can give you the following suggestions:
1- Dietary changes:
Your dietician may increase or decrease the number of certain foods in your diet. For example, you may be forbidden from eating a diet that has high-fat content to reduce diarrhea. You may be suggested to eat foods high in potassium so that electrolyte levels remain in balance.
2- Enzyme supplements:
These enzymes help your body to absorb nutrients that it cannot do on its own.
3- Vitamin Supplements:
Your dietician may advise you to take supplements of vitamins and other nutrients that are not being absorbed by your intestines.
Your doctor and dietician will prepare a treatment plan for you that will reduce the symptoms of Malabsorption Syndrome and help your body get the necessary nutrients and fluids.
Doctors can call you several times to find out how well the treatment is working and whether there is a need to start a new treatment.
Complications of malabsorption syndrome –
What complications can cause malabsorption syndrome?
The body needs to get nutrients from the food eaten to be healthy. When the body is not able to absorb nutrients completely, it can cause some long-term effects of malabsorption on the body. There are some complications that develop as a result of prolonged malabsorption:
- Pain in bones
- Breaking of bones easily (weakening of bones)
- Iron deficiency
- Muscle loss
- Tongue ulcers
- Loss of body weight
- Delayed physical development of children
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Feeling confused
- Changes in behavior (personality) (sometimes)
- Vitamin deficiency such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K