What causes malabsorption?

A number of conditions are thought to cause malabsorption, although the exact cause is not known.

Common causes of malabsorption

Some of the causes of malabsorption include:

  • Biliary atresia (blockage of the ducts that transport bile from the liver to the gallbladder)
  • Bowel resection (partial removal for disease)
  • Cancers, such as lymphoma or pancreatic cancer
  • Celiac disease (severe sensitivity to gluten from wheat and other grains that causes intestinal damage)
  • Certain medications, including tetracycline, diet drugs, and some antacids
  • Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the intestine)
  • Food intolerances (difficulty digesting certain foods without symptoms of a food allergy), such as to dairy or soy products
  • Liver disease (includes any type of liver problem, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure)
  • Parasite infections
  • Surgery of the gastrointestinal tract that bypasses or removes parts of the stomach or intestines
  • Whipple disease (disorder that prevents nutrient absorption by the intestines)

What are the risk factors for malabsorption?

Some of the risk factors for malabsorption include:

  • Cancer
  • Food intolerances (difficulty digesting certain foods without symptoms of a food allergy)
  • History of stomach or intestinal surgery that bypassed or removed part of the stomach or intestines
  • Poor diet
  • Presence of gastrointestinal diseases that cause diarrhea or vomiting
  • Structural abnormalities in the digestive system

What is malabsorption?

Malabsorption occurs when nutrients are not properly extracted and absorbed from food during the digestive process. This can result in a deficiency of vitamins, proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, and other nutrients that are important for growth and regulation of body systems.

Typically, during digestion, nutrients are extracted from food and absorbed by the small intestine. These... Read more about malabsorptionintroduction


What are the symptoms of malabsorption?

Symptoms of malabsorption not only affect the gastrointestinal system, but also the growth and development of your child. The depletion of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients can increase susceptibility to illnesses and disease, as well.

Gastrointestinal symptoms of malabsorption

The following gastrointestinal symptoms often occur in malabsorption:
Read more about malabsorptionsymptoms


How is malabsorption treated?

Treatment for malabsorption begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. He or she will evaluate you or your child for signs and symptoms of malnourishment and attempt to identify the cause. It may be that the diet does not provide enough nutrient-rich foods or that there are digestive issues that prevent absorption of nutrients.

Hospitalization may be required... Read more about malabsorptiontreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Food, Nutrition and Diet