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Definition Return to top
Malabsorption is difficulty digesting or absorbing nutrients from food.
Causes Return to top
Many diseases can cause malabsorption. Malabsorption is usually the inability to absorb certain sugars, fats, proteins, or vitamins from food. It can also involve a general malabsorption of food.
Some of the causes of malabsorption include:
Vitamin B12 malabsorption may be due to:
Malabsorption of vitamins can occur even without diarrhea.
Symptoms Return to top
Malabsorption can affect growth and development, or it can lead to specific illnesses.
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
Vitamin and nutrient replacement is often necessary.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outlook depends on the condition causing malabsorption.
Possible Complications Return to top
Long-term malabsorption can result in:
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you notice symptoms of malabsorption.
Prevention Return to top
Preventive methods depend on the condition causing malabsorption.
References Return to top
Semrad CE, Powell DW. Approach to the Patient with Diarrhea and Malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 143.Update Date: 8/22/2008 Updated by: Christian Stone, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.