What is Malabsorption?

The body requires a multitude of nutrients to function. These nutrients, in all their forms, are contained in the daily diet. Ordinarily, the body is extremely efficient at processing and absorbing these nutrients to fuel all of its needs. Yet, some conditions such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease compromise this process. Malabsorption refers to the inability of the small intestine to absorb nutrients.

Causes of Malabsorption

Malabsorption can be due to damage to the intestinal lining such as in celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, radiation or chronic infections such as Whipple’s Disease or tropical sprue. It can also occur in diseases in which the body cannot absorb nutrients due to enzyme or protein deficiencies. Examples of this would include lactose intolerance, pernicious anemia with B12 deficiency or pancreatic insufficiency.

Some diseases and conditions only result in malabsorption of certain nutrients, such as protein. This type of malabsorption is called selective (or partial). Other diseases cause what is categorized as total malabsorption. The basic nutrient components impacted by total malabsorption include macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats) and micronutrients (trace vitamins and minerals).

Symptoms of Malabsorption

The symptoms of malabsorption can range from nonexistent to minor to severe. They include:

  • Abdominal bloating and gas
  • Anemia
  • Chronic diarrhea (the most common symptom)
  • Dry hair or hair loss
  • Edema
  • Excessive fat in the stools (steatorrhea)
  • Fluid retention
  • Hypocalcemia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Malnutrition
  • Muscle cramps, weakness or wasting
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pain
  • Vitamin deficiencies (e.g., vitamin A, B12, D, K)
  • Weight loss

How is Malabsorption Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of malabsorption consists of:

  • Blood tests to screen for consequences of malabsorption
  • Stool fat testing to confirm malabsorption (if unclear)
  • Having the root cause diagnosed with endoscopy, contrast X-rays or other tests based on findings

How is Malabsorption Treated in NJ?

Remedies for malabsorption depend on the cause of the condition. These remedies range from gluten or lactose-free diets, possible vitamin or mineral supplementation, anti-inflammatory medications, or antibiotics to counter bacterial overgrowth.

Treatment for Malabsorption in NJ from DHC

At Digestive Healthcare Center, we diagnose and treat malabsorption by getting to the root of its cause. Our physicians and staff recognize the challenges it presents, offering expert and compassionate care. We are proud to provide care for patients at our three office locations in Somerset County, where we will review your symptoms and craft a personalized treatment plan for you. If you are experiencing symptoms of malabsorption, please don’t hesitate to contact us and request an appointment today.

Digestive Health Care and Treatment in New Jersey

Our team of board-certified gastroenterologists at Digestive Healthcare Center is proud to help patients with a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions. We will make sure you understand the “why” behind every decision made for your health, ensuring that you are comfortable every step of the way. Please contact us today to request an appointment at one of our offices in Hillsborough, Somerville, or Warren, NJ.

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