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Short Bowel Syndrome


Short bowel syndrome is a condition that prevents your intestines from absorbing the nutrients it needs. Short bowel syndrome occurs when the intestine is shorter than normal or does not work the way it should.



  • Antibiotics: This medicine will help fight or prevent an infection. Take your antibiotics until they are gone, even if you feel better.
  • Diarrhea medicine: This medicine is given to decrease the amount of diarrhea you are having. Some of these medicines coat the intestine and make bowel movements less watery. Other medicines work by slowing down how fast the intestines move food through.
  • Antacids: You may need antacids to decrease stomach acid.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Nutritional supplements: You may need vitamin and mineral supplements because your intestines cannot absorb these nutrients from food.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.


Nutrition may depend on the cause of your short bowel syndrome or how much bowel is left. You may need to meet with a dietician to talk about the best foods for you.

Weigh yourself daily before breakfast:

Record your weight in a journal. Healthcare providers may need to compare your weight from day to day. This helps them determine the amount of body fluid you have. If you lose too much body fluid, you can become dehydrated. If you have too much body fluid, you may have trouble breathing. Ask what your weight should be.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You feel achy, or have chills, weakness, or a cough.
  • Your abdominal pain does not go away, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • Your bowel movements are dark or have blood in them.
  • You feel like you are going to pass out.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Short Bowel Syndrome (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Mayo Clinic Reference Guides (External)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.