What are the different symptoms of malabsorption?

Malabsorption symptoms occur when the body's gastrointestinal system is not working normally and is unable to absorb and use the nutrients it receives from food. This differs from scenarios where people do not consume enough nutritional food, but in most cases, people with malabsorption eat an adequate diet. Malabsorption, which can be caused by many conditions, means that the body is not making proper use of the food it receives. Minor symptoms, such as a few days of diarrhea and foul-smelling weakness, may accompany a short-lived case of malabsorption. Alternatively, symptoms can become very severe if the condition is chronic, with nearly every body system suffering from a lack of essential nutrients and vitamins.

One of the most prominent symptoms of malabsorption is a change in the appearance of the stool, and this is often the first indicator of problems. Some people will have frequent watery diarrhoea, and others have signs of excessive amounts of fat in the stool, which becomes light in color and may stick to the toilet bowl or tend to float to the top of the water. Extremely bulky stools, when consuming normal amounts of food, could also mean that the body is wasting, rather than using, the nutrition it does receive. Changes in stool appearance are often accompanied by other intestinal symptoms such as abdominal cramps, gas, and heartburn.

Many people who have a temporary upset stomach, from the stomach flu or a minor foodborne illness, may experience a few days of malabsorption symptoms. If the condition becomes chronic, these early symptoms tend to worsen and other signs of nutritional malabsorption become apparent. People with chronic malabsorption may notice things like unexplained weight loss. Children may have growth delays or be diagnosed with growth failure.

More specific malabsorption symptoms may depend on the cause of the problem and the nutrients that are not absorbed. Some causes mean that the gastrointestinal system cannot absorb some nutrients, but threshold absorbs others. Different areas of the body that depend on specific nutrients may be more affected when malabsorption of this type is chronic. Calcium deficiency could affect bone growth, density, and strength; Low levels of protein create water retention, and deficiencies of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12 can cause different forms of anemia that produce feelings of weakness or fatigue.

In many cases, malabsorption symptoms suggest multiple nutrient deficiencies. Anemia, bone weakness, and water retention could be present together. If these symptoms continue to be ignored, damage to multiple body systems can accumulate. In the worst cases, people who are chronically deprived of nutrients can develop kidney problems or even heart failure. It is important to diagnose the cause and treat it, if possible. At the same time, those affected by malabsorption require other means of nutritional support to make up for missing nutrients.

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