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All about malabsorption syndrome causes of malabsorption symptoms of malabsorption diagnosis of malabsorption treatment for malabsorption celiac disease gluten causes of celiac disease symptoms of celiac disease celiac disease diagnosis treatments for celiac disease celiac disease and gluten-free diet lactose intolerance causes of lactose intolerance symptoms of lactose intolerance diagnosis of lactose intolerance treatment of lactose intolerance lactose-free diet Whipple's disease causes of Whipple's disease symptoms of Whipple's disease diagnosis of Whipple's disease treatment for Whipple's disease

How is malabsorption diagnosed?

The diagnosis of malabsorption syndrome and identification of the underlying cause can require extensive diagnostic testing. The first phase involves a thorough medical history and physical examination by a physician, who will then determine the appropriate laboratory studies and x rays to assist in diagnosis. A 72-hour stool collection may be ordered for fecal fat measurement; increased fecal fat in the stool collected indicates malabsorption. A biopsy of the small intestine may be done to assist in differentiating between malabsorption syndrome and small bowel disease. Ultrasound, computed

tomography scan (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), barium enema, or other x rays to identify abnormalities of the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas may also be ordered.

Laboratory tests can help confirm the diagnosis. Tests that directly measure fat in stool samples collected over 2 or 3 days are the most reliable ones for diagnosing malabsorption of fat, which is present in almost all malabsorption disorders. A finding of more than 6 grams of fat in the stool daily is the hallmark of malabsorption. Other laboratory tests can detect malabsorption of other specific substances, such as lactose or vitamin B12.

Stool samples are examined with the unaided eye as well as under the microscope. Undigested food fragments may mean that food passes through the intestine too rapidly. In a person with jaundice, stool with excess fat indicates decreased production or secretion of bile. Sometimes parasites or their eggs are seen under the microscope, suggesting that malabsorption is caused by a parasitic infection.

A biopsy (removal of a tissue specimen for examination under a microscope) may be needed to detect abnormalities in the lining of the small intestine. The tissue is removed through an endoscope (a flexible viewing tube equipped with a light source and a small clipper) passed through the mouth and into the small intestine.

Pancreatic function tests are performed if the doctor thinks that the cause of malabsorption may be the insufficient production of digestive enzymes by the pancreas. However, some of these tests are complex, time-consuming, and invasive. In one test, a tube is passed through the mouth and guided to the small intestine, so that intestinal fluids containing pancreatic secretions can be collected and measured. In another test, the person swallows a substance that requires pancreatic enzymes for its digestion. The products of digestion are then measured in the urine.

More information on malabsorption (celiac disease, lactose intolerance, Whipple's disease)

What is malabsorption? - Malabsorption is the inability to absorb nutrients through the gut lining into the bloodstream. Malabsorption is the failure of the GI tract to absorb one or more substances from the diet.
What causes malabsorption? - The causes of malabsorption include cystic fibrosis, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, Whipple disease, acrodermatitis enteropathica, biliary atresia, pernicious anemia.
What are the symptoms of malabsorption? - The signs and symptoms of malabsorption may include failure to thrive, diarrhea, cramping, frequent bulky stools, bloating, flatulence, and abdominal distention.
How is malabsorption diagnosed? - The diagnosis of malabsorption syndrome and identification of the underlying cause can require extensive diagnostic testing.
What's the treatment for malabsorption? - Treatment of malabsorption is the treatment of the causing disease. Fluid and nutrient monitoring and replacement is essential for individual with malabsorption syndrome.
What is celiac disease? - Celiac disease is a sensitivity to gluten, a wheat protein. Individuals with this disease must avoid gluten-containing grains, which include all forms of wheat, oats, barley, and rye.
What is gluten? - Gluten is a protein in grains such as wheat, oats, rye, and barley. Gluten is responsible for the elasticity of kneaded dough which allows it to be leavened.
What causes celiac disease? - The exact cause of celiac disease is not known. The principal cause of the disorder is an immunologic reaction to components of certain dietary glutens.
What are the symptoms of celiac disease? - The symptoms of celiac disease (CD) vary so widely among patients that there is no such thing as a typical celiac. Symptoms may or may not occur in the digestive system.
How is celiac disease diagnosed? - Celiac disease may be diagnosed by observing the symptoms after an infant begins eating cereals. The diagnosis is suspected when a person has the above-mentioned symptoms.
What are the treatments for celiac disease? - Many of the effects of celiac disease can be treated and minimized with a special diet. People with celiac disease learn to avoid the proteins in cereal.
Celiac disease and gluten-free diet - A gluten-free diet is a diet completely free of ingredients derived from gluten containing cereals, wheat, oats, barley and rye.
What is lactose intolerance? - Lactose intolerance is a set of symptoms resulting from the body's inability to digest the milk sugar called lactose. Lactose is sugar occuring naturally in milk and is also called milk sugar.
What causes lactose intolerance? - Primary lactase deficiency is a genetically inherited. Secondary lactase deficiency is a transient state of lactase deficiency due to damage to the lining of the intestine.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance? - People with lactose intolerance usually cannot tolerate milk and other dairy products. The symptoms of lactose intolerance are dose-dependent.
How is lactose intolerance diagnosed? - Lactose intolerance is widely regarded as a medical condition. The most common test for lactose intolerance is the hydrogen breath test.
What's the treatment for lactose intolerance? - Lactose intolerance can be controlled and treated through diet by avoiding foods containing lactose, primarily dairy products.
Manage lactose intolerance with lactose-free diet - People who are very sensitive to lactose should be aware that lactose is widely used as an ingredient in many ready-made meals and other food products.
What is Whipple's disease? - Whipple's disease is a malabsorption disease. It interferes with the body's ability to absorb certain nutrients.
What causes Whipple's disease? - Whipple's disease is caused by the organism Tropheryma whippelii. The disease causes lesions on the wall of the small intestine and thickening of the tissue.
What are the symptoms of Whipple's disease? - Whipple's disease causes weight loss, irregular breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, resistance to insulin, and malfunctions of the immune system.
How is Whipple's disease diagnosed? - Whipple's disease is diagnosed through a tissue sample (biopsy) of the small intestine, or of an enlarged lymph node.
What is the treatment for Whipple's disease? - Whipple's disease is treated with antibiotics to destroy the bacteria that cause the disease, treatment may also include fluid and electrolyte replacement. 
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