Malabsorption is caused by a plethora of issues such as diseases and infections, it can also be something that you are just born with. Some of these causes include:
- Damage to the lining of your small intestine: damage due to surgery, injury, infections, or inflammation.
- Lactose intolerance: inability to absorb lactose which is present in dairy.
- Parasites: diseases caused by parasites can damage the small intestine.
- Medical conditions: coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis.
- Congenital issues: conditions (e.g., biliary atresia) that you are born with can lead to malabsorption.
- Digestive problems: your stomach is a muscle that has two functions. Producing enzymes required for digestion and mixing the food together with the enzymes. Either one or both may be malfunctioning.
- Excessive use of certain medications: prolonged use of certain medications such as antibiotics may cause injury to the small intestine.
- Tropical sprue: common in certain areas of the world like India, the Caribbean, and parts of Southeast Asia. It can be found in contaminated food, infections, and parasites.
- Whipple’s disease: a type of bacterial infection that occurs in the gastrointestinal tract but can spread to other organs.
- Short bowel syndrome (SBS): this means that the small intestine is shorter than normal, which results in less surface area for absorption to take place. It can be an acquired condition (where the small intestine is shortened during surgery) or congenital (something that you were born with).
What are the common symptoms of Malabsorption in Singapore?
There are many stages of malabsorption, so symptoms in the early stages of malabsorption are different from those in the later stages. Symptoms will also differ based on the type of nutrients that cannot be absorbed.
Symptoms in the early stages of malabsorption:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatty stools
Symptoms in the late stages of malabsorption:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dry skin and skin lesions
- Getting bruised easily
- Dry hair and hair loss
- Muscle loss
- Getting infections frequently
- Night blindness
- Fragile bones
- Nose bleeds and bleeding gums
- General feeling of weakness
- Red and sore tongue
Is Malabsorption painful?
Yes, it can be especially if you are experiencing abdominal pain.
Who is at risk of Malabsorption in Singapore?
Malabsorption can affect anyone. But if you have the following factors, you are at an increased risk of getting malabsorption:
- Celiac disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Prolonged use of antibiotics or laxatives
- Surgery on the intestines