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What Causes Malabsorbtion?


Malabsorption is a condition that many struggle with and are often unaware of. Symptoms are often mistaken for other ailments. The causes for malabsorption usually come from infections, medications, or food allergies.

What Is Malabsorption? 

Malabsorption occurs when the digestive system is unable to absorb the proper amount of nutrients. This often goes undetected until it creates significant problems throughout the body. The body needs a certain amount of nutrients to function optimally. No matter how much healthy food one intakes, malabsorption will keep bones, organs, and important body systems undernourished. 

The small intestine is the organ usually responsible for beginning nutrient absorption. Nutrients are usually excreted into the bloodstream and carried off to needed places within the body. After this occurs the large intestine takes over and diverts the remaining nutrients to other organs. If these structures are damaged in any way this process will not operate as it should. Someone experiencing this syndrome usually has difficulty absorbing the vital nutrients from fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.  

What Are The Symptoms? 

There are several common symptoms that would lead a medical provider to diagnose one with malabsorption

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea Often
  • Explosive Diarrhea
  • Colored Stool
  • Large Bulky Stools
  • Extremely Smelly Stool
  • Floating Stool
  • Skin Issues
  • Dry Hair
  • Hair Loss
  • Edema
  • Weight Loss
  • Anemia
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Difficulty Building Muscle
  • Growth Delays

What Causes Malabsorption?

Experts believe there are many things that can contribute to this problem. 

  • Infections
  • Intestinal Inflammation
  • Trauma
  • Surgery
  • Prolonged Antibiotic Use
  • Celiac Disease
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Whipple Disease
  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance
  • Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome
  • Parasites
  • Biliary Atresia
  • Abetalipoproteinemia 

Cystic Fibrosis which is a genetic disease that affects the lungs is the number one reason people experience malabsorption in the US. Malabsorption can lead to developmental delays, slow growth progressions, and serious illness. 

Can It Go Away On Its Own? 

Malabsorption may resolve on its own with proper diet and nutrition practices. If you are not eating nutrient-dense foods in the first place you will experience low vitamin and mineral levels in your bloodstream regardless. It’s important to feed your body the fuel it needs. 

 For some, these symptoms may become more severe. It is important to speak with your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms above. Your doctor will be able to run a series of tests to determine what is causing your symptoms. 

Some of the tests used to help pinpoint causation are:

  • Breath Analysis– this test measures the amount of hydrogen gas that is produced in your breath. Patients are instructed to drink a product with lactose and if the gas is present the person may have lactose intolerance. 
  • Stool Test- these tests examine fat content in stool to determine if malabsorption is occurring. 
  • Blood Panel- your doctor may perform several blood panels. Some panels will measure for other conditions and some will measure the level of nutrients present in your bloodstream. 
  • Imaging Scan- your doctor may refer you to get an imaging scan done on your bowels to rule out other things. 
  • Biopsy– your doctor may suggest having a biopsy on part of your intestinal lining. This will check for any abnormal cell tissue. 
  • Think You Might Have Issues With Nutrient Absorption?

If you have received a diagnosis of malabsorption and are having a difficult time recovering you might consider looking into ways to support your overall health. Holistic healing is a unique approach where you can learn how to best support your body, not just treat symptoms. 

Dr. Melvin Mashner, DC, Psc.D. at The Gut Authority in Pensacola, Florida helps clients through his guidance and nutritional counseling programs. Dr. Melvin and his team help their clients restore their health by providing education and specialized testing. Please contact our office today!

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