Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

A to Z: Intestinal Malabsorption

May also be called: Malabsorption; Malabsorption Syndrome

Intestinal malabsorption (mal-ab-ZORP-shun) is difficulty absorbing nutrients from food in the intestines.

More to Know

In the stomach, food is processed into a thick liquid called chyme. Chyme is then squirted down into the small intestine, where digestion of food continues so the body can absorb nutrients into the bloodstream.

When someone has intestinal malabsorption, something causes the small intestine to have trouble absorbing nutrients, especially sugars, fats, proteins, and vitamins. When this happens, the nutrients are passed out of the body in the stool (poop). This can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, flatulence, bulky stools that smell bad, weakness, fatigue, and muscle wasting.

Intestinal malabsorption is a common symptom of a number of diseases and conditions, including infections like traveler's diarrhea, lactose intolerance, Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, endocrine disorders, cystic fibrosis, certain medications, and surgeries or treatments for conditions of the digestive tract. Treatment for intestinal malabsorption depends upon which condition is causing it.

Keep in Mind

In many cases, intestinal malabsorption happens after a stomach flu or intestinal flu. In those cases, it usually clears up within a couple of days and is no cause for concern. Longer-lasting cases should be examined by a doctor to determine the cause and the best course of treatment.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.