Title: Malabsorption

Key Words: malabsorption syndromes, nutritional deficiencies, signs and symptoms, diseases and conditions, investigations

Date:May 2001

Category: The Gut

Type: Article

Author: Dr M Draper



In main-stream medicine we tend to only detect malabsorption syndromes when they are florid. Lesser degrees of malabsorption are very common, and may have serious consequences for the patient. Nutritional deficiencies are extremely common and result from one or more of the following: inadequate intake, impaired digestion, reduced absorption or increased losses.

Some Signs & Symptoms of Malabsorption

* Abdominal cramps, distension, flatulence

* Altered intestinal permeability

* Amenorrhoea

* Anaemia

* Autoimmune diseases

* Chronic intestinal infections - bacterial, parasites, etc.

* Autoimmune disorders, incl. rheumatoid arthritis

* Decreased libido

* Dermatitis

* Diarrhoea

* Easy bruisability

* Fatigue

* Glossitis

* Greasy stools

* Impotence

* Infertility

* Irritable bowel

* Muscle atrophy or cramps

* Night blindness

* Osteomalacia

* Weight loss

Some Diseases and Conditions which may be associated with Malabsorption

* Acne

* Anaemia's

* Bacterial overgrowth

* Chronic constipation

* Chronic diarrhoea

* Chronic infection by GI pathogens

* Eczema

* Food intolerances

* Impaired immunity

* Lactose intolerance and other carbohydrate intolerances

* Leaky gut syndrome

* Nutritional deficiencies

* Osteoporosis

This list is extremely incomplete - it is meant as an aide memoire; refer to standard medical books for the list of causes of malabsorption.


* The usual conventional ones

* Urinary d-xylose ( Biolab ) is still a useful easy cheap test

* PEG 400 (Biolab)