Malabsorption (Latin for “bad uptake”)
This term refers to a chronic pathological condition in which the uptake of previously split nutrients through the intestinal wall into the lymph and blood circulation is hindered / reduced.
Causes may include:
- Connatal diseases
- Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (eg ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease)
- Hypersensitivity diseases (eg celiac desease)
- Infections (eg Whipple’s disease)
- State after an operation (eg short bowel syndrome)
Diseases coupled with malabsorption are referred to as malabsorption syndromes. Main symptoms are:
- Massive stools (> 300 g stool weight)
- Foul-smelling fatty stools (steatorrhea), flatulence
- Weight loss
- Undersupply of vitamins E, D, K, A, B12, folic acid, calcium, iron, protein and trace elements
- Muscle weakness
- Skin and mucosal changes
Steatorrhea (fatty stool or pancreas stool)
A pathological increase in the fat content in stools is referrred to as steatorrhea. It is a symptom of the malabsorption syndrome.
Common associated symptoms are flatulence, abdominal fullness, diarrhea tendency, abdominal pain. With steatorrhea, fats are insufficiently absorbed by the lipases in the small intestine.
One talks of steatorrhea, if there is a fecal fat loss in adults of 10 g / day.
Steatorrhea may occur in case of celiac disease (gluten intolerance), pancreatic insufficiency (if over 90% of pancreas is non-functional), pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), pancreas carcinoma (pancreatic cancer), the blockage of the bile duct by a gallstone (choledocholithiasis), an inflammation of the bile ducts (cholangitis) or the short bowel syndrome.