Symptoms and Causes of Short Bowel Syndrome

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What are the Symptoms of Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)

Symptoms of short bowel syndrome result when fluids and nutrients are not properly absorbed. These will vary from person to person. Symptoms often include:

  • diarrhea,
  • fatigue, and
  • pale greasy stools (steatorrhea). 

Swelling of lower extremities (edema), foul smelling stools, weight loss as a result of dehydration, electrolyte losses, and malnutrition are often experienced.

Vitamin and mineral losses can lead to some symptoms. Depending on which vitamin or mineral is deficient, symptom examples include visual disturbances and excessive dryness of the eyes; prickling or tingling feeling on the skin; muscle spasms; loss of coordination; loss of bone mass; easy bruising and/or prolonged bleeding; lack of energy (lethargy), weakness, or difficulty breathing on exertion.

What Causes of SBS

Short bowel syndrome can occur in a person of any age. Risk factors for SBS include defects existing at birth and diseases of the small intestine that require extensive or recurrent surgery such as Crohn’s disease or gastrointestinal cancers.

In addition SBS can be caused by loss of function due to injury or disease in a normal length small intestine.

Other explanations include emergency situations related to injury or trauma, perforated bowel, or blocked or restricted blood flow to the bowel.

Risk Factors

Short bowel syndrome (SBS) can occur in a person of any age. Risk factors for SBS include defects existing at birth and diseases of the small intestine that require extensive or recurrent surgery such as Crohn’s disease or gastrointestinal cancers.

In addition SBS can be caused by loss of function due to injury or disease in a normal length small intestine.

Other explanations include emergency situations related to injury or trauma, perforated bowel, or blocked or restricted blood flow to the bowel.

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IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization. Our mission is to inform, assist, and support people affected by gastrointestinal disorders.

Our original content is authored specifically for IFFGD readers, in response to your questions and concerns.

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