What is the problem
Malabsorption, or malabsorption in the intestine, is called a malfunction of this organ, which manifests itself in a number of symptoms that form against the background of a violation of the digestive and transport functions of the small intestine. This necessarily affects the metabolism. Often, malabsorption syndrome is congenital and manifests itself in children in the first 10 years of life. But there are also cases of acquired disease.
Diagnosis directly depends on the symptoms. So, for example, if the clinical manifestations of the congenital variant and the moderate and severe forms of the acquired variant can actively manifest themselves, then the latent forms of the syndrome do not have vivid manifestations and require a different diagnostic approach.
Why failure can develop
There are many reasons why the absorption process in the small intestine is disrupted. Among them:
Various pathologies of the stomach – atrophic gastritis, oncology, etc.
Pancreas problems – pancreatitis
Liver diseases – chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis
Diseases of the small intestine proper – Crohn’s disease, enteritis, enetrocolitis, etc.
Enzyme disorders – celiac disease, lactase deficiency, sucrase, etc.
Disorders of the gut microbiota
The use of a number of drugs – antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.
Problems in the small intestine cause damage to microvilli, enterocytes and impairment of the transport of nutrients through the walls. Because of this, a person develops dystrophy, sharp weight loss, and dysfunction of internal organs.
If the form of the disease is mild, it may not be recognized. However, as the situation worsens, the symptoms can appear quite brightly. A doctor should be consulted for a more detailed examination if even one of the following signs is observed:
Discomfort in the intestines of varying severity
Anemia on blood tests
Deficiency of vitamins B12, B9, C and others
Increased dryness of the skin and hair, brittle nails and other signs of vitamin deficiency, especially if you are taking special medications
Deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K
Increased excitability or, conversely, apathy
Losing weight for no apparent reason
You should also pay attention to pain. In this case, the soreness can be given to the lower back, be crampy in nature, or be encircling (it is often compared to intestinal colic). It starts to hurt after eating, in parallel, bloating and rumbling can be noted. Stool changes, which becomes more frequent and takes on an unpleasant odor. The syndrome also leads to a feeling of nausea, affects the appetite.
• How to diagnose
The examination in this situation should begin with a blood test. It will reflect anemia, an increase in leukocytes in the blood and ESR. Biochemistry should also be passed. Here you should pay attention to such parameters as total protein, albumin, glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, calcium, zinc, magnesium, all enzymes, electrolytes, ferritin, vitamins B9, B12, D in the first place. You should also take a blood clotting test.
An obligatory item of the examination is the delivery of feces for analysis. This is necessary to determine in it muscle fibers and starch, changes in acidity, appearance and smell.
If we talk about specific tests, then procedures such as the D-acid test and the Schilling test should be performed. In parallel, doctors can prescribe EGD, colonoscopy and microbiota analysis. This will allow assessing the manifestations of dysbiosis in the intestine and choosing the optimal therapy options.
Treating the problem
First of all, the efforts of doctors will be directed to pathology, which leads to the development of problems with the absorption of nutrients in the intestine. However, the situation also needs to be corrected, therefore, in parallel, a special diet will be prescribed (usually they mean one that excludes lactose and gluten), a program for the replenishment of vitamins and microelements (these can be dietary supplements, special droppers, etc.), an option is proposed to restore microbiota by connecting pro- and prebiotics.