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Symptom Checker

Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.


You may be digesting your food inadequately, a medical problem that is termed "malabsorption." Malabsorption is a serious problem because it prevents you from getting adequate nutrition. Symptoms that suggest malabsorption require an evaluation by your physician.

Several medical problems can cause malabsorption. Examples of problems that can cause malabsorption are infection with the parasite "giardia," excessive accumulation of bowel bacteria (bacterial "overgrowth"), damage to the pancreas (pancreatitis), and intestine injury due to long-term inflammation.

One cause of intestine injury and inflammation is sensitivity to grains in the diet. This causes "gluten sensitivity," also known as "celiac sprue." Celiac sprue only results in individuals who have a sensitivity to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, oats, barley, rye, and many food additives. This sensitivity causes an autoimmune reaction (an immune system attack) after gluten-containing foods are consumed. Blood tests are available to check for antibodies that can diagnose gluten sensitivity.

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