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Malabsorption: Introduction

Malabsorption is a condition in which the body does not effectively absorb nutrients from food in the small intestine. Malabsorption can be caused by a wide variety of diseases or disorders, including celiac disease, chronic liver disease, chronic pancreatitis, Crohn's disease, and lactose intolerance. Other conditions that can cause malabsorption include some surgeries of the gastrointestinal tract, such as gastrectomy or gastric bypass. Parasitic infections of the gastrointestinal tract and some genetic diseases are other potential causes of malabsorption.

Malabsorption is common and can affect anyone. Some diseases that cause malabsorption are inherited or have a genetic component. Other risk factors for developing a condition or disease that result in malabsorption include having gastrointestinal surgery, alcoholism, or HIV/AIDS. People with certain other conditions, such as type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, autoimmune liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and microscopic colitis are also at risk for developing malabsorption.

Malabsorption can involve a difficulty or inability to absorb all nutrients from food, or it can involve only specific nutrients, such as certain carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, or proteins. In a healthy gastrointestinal tract, most absorption of nutrients takes place in the small intestine. Any disease or disorder that interferes with the intestines ability to absorb nutrients can lead to malabsorption. Examples include celiac disease, in which a gluten intolerance damages the small intestine, and some parasitic infections of the gastrointestinal tract.

Malabsorption may also occur when a disease or disorder interferes with the normal mixing of food with digestive juices and acid in the stomach. This can occur when part of the stomach is removed surgically. In addition, any condition that obstructs or impedes the normal production of digestive enzymes may also lead to malabsorption. These conditions include pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.

Symptoms and complications of malabsorption vary in character and severity depending on the specific cause of the condition and other factors. However, some symptoms and complications are similar in most conditions due to the due to the lack of nutrients that the body receives. These can include weakness and malnutrition. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of malabsorption.

Making a diagnosis of malabsorption and its underlying cause begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Diagnostic tests may include imaging studies that examine the small intestine stomach and/or pancreas for abnormalities that lead to malabsorption. These may include endoscopy, colonoscopy, X-rays, and upper or lower GI studies with barium.

A sample of the small intestine may also be taken to examine under a microscope for abnormalities. This is called a biopsy. Blood tests can reveal a large amount of diagnostic information, such as nutritional deficiencies, the presence of anemia, and the presence of high levels of certain antibodies, which may indicate such causes of malabsorption as celiac disease.

It is possible that a diagnosis of malabsorption can be missed or delayed because symptoms can be vague and resemble symptoms of less serious conditions, such as mild gastroenteritis. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of malabsorption.

Treatment of malabsorption varies widely, depending on the cause and underlying diseases, the severity of symptoms, the person's age and medical history, and other factors. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of malabsorption....more »

Malabsorption: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of malabsorption may be delayed or missed because some symptoms can be vague and may initially be attributed to another less serious condition. For example, gas and abdominal bloating are typical symptoms of malabsorption, but may be overlooked because it is easy to assume it is related to other factors, such as overeating.

Pinpointing a diagnosis ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Malabsorption:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Malabsorption. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Malabsorption: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Malabsorption

Home medical tests possibly related to Malabsorption:

Causes of Types of Malabsorption:

Review causes of types of Malabsorption in more specific categories:

Malabsorption: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Malabsorption, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Malabsorption Treatments

The treatment plan for malabsorption varies depending on the cause and underlying disease, the severity of symptoms, a person's age and medical history, and other factors.

Treatment often involves pinpointing and replacing missing vitamins and nutrients with supplementation. Other medications may be needed depending on the underlying conditions. ...Malabsorption Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Malabsorption may include:

Review further information on Malabsorption Treatments.

Stories from Users for Malabsorption

Real-life user stories relating to Malabsorption:

Malabsorption: Animations

Malabsorption: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Malabsorption may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Research the causes of related medical symptoms such as:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Malabsorption

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Malabsorption:

Malabsorption: Deaths

Read more about causes and Malabsorption deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Malabsorption

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The best known, irritable more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but can also kill the "good" bacteria in the gut. This leads to " more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a variety of symptoms (see symptoms of celiac disease). A variety of other more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known possibilities are peptic ulcer, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, or GERD. Other more »

Malabsorption: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Malabsorption

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Malabsorption:

Malabsorption: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Malabsorption: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Definitions of Malabsorption:

Abnormal absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Impaired absorption of nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract.
- (Source - CRISP)

Detailed list of causes of Malabsorption

The list below shows some of the causes of Malabsorption mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Malabsorption?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Malabsorption. Of the 219 causes of Malabsorption that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 2 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 1 causes are "common" diseases
  • 3 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 3 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 7 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 207 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Malabsorption:

The following list of conditions have 'Malabsorption' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Malabsorption or choose View All.

View All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W























Conditions listing medical complications: Malabsorption:

The following list of medical conditions have Malabsorption or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.










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Causes of Malabsorption Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Malabsorption based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Classifications of Malabsorption:

    Medical Conditions associated with Malabsorption:

    Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Intestinal symptoms (5299 causes), Lower abdominal symptoms (3048 causes), Abdominal symptoms (5930 causes), Digestive system symptoms (5299 causes), Eating symptoms (2462 causes), Nutrition symptoms (614 causes), Food symptoms (1907 causes)

    Symptoms related to Malabsorption:

    Diarrhea (2312 causes), Weight loss (2248 causes), Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Overactive thyroid gland, Intestinal tumor, Intestinal cancer, Intestinal surgery, Abdominal surgery, Crohn's disease, Diverticular disease, Liver disease, Gall bladder disease, Celiac disease

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Malabsorption:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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