Published: March 31, 2018

Dear @[email protected],

Your healthcare team has discussed the following subject with you: short bowel syndrome. Here is some additional information. Let us know if you have any questions regarding this information.

Short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a disorder that affects people who are unable to use large portions of their small intestine as a result of a digestive illness, such as Crohn's disease. Parts of the small intestine can become unusable due to injury or disease, or if large portions of it are surgically removed. When large amounts of functional small intestine are missing, the body is unable to absorb adequate amounts of nutrients, vitamins, and water from food to stay healthy.

The most common symptom of short bowel syndrome is diarrhea, which may lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and weight loss. Additional symptoms could include abdominal pain and cramping, anemia, bloating, easy bruising, fragile or thin bones, foul-smelling or oily stools, and weakness. Particular mineral/vitamin deficiencies can be linked to the specific section of the small intestine that is damaged or was removed.

For some people, short bowel syndrome is a temporary problem, and the remaining small intestine adjusts for the missing segments. However, it can take as long as two years for the small intestine to make this adaption. Therefore, treatment is typically necessary during this interval and varies depending on the amount and section of the remaining small intestine, the severity of the associated symptoms, and how well the body adapts over time.

The first treatment step is typically dietary adjustments that could include a change in diet, electrolyte/nutrition supplements, mineral/vitamin supplements, and oral rehydration solutions. Medications may also be used to relieve symptoms, including anti-diarrheals, gastric acid reducers, GLP-2, L-glutamine powder, and somatropin. In some cases, nutrition may need to be delivered through a feeding tube (enteral nutrition) or through a vein (parenteral nutrition).

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