Short bowel syndrome is a disorder in which the body is unable to absorb adequate amounts of nutrients from the food consumed because it does not have an adequate length of the small intestine. In healthy individuals, the food is passed through the esophagus and into the stomach, where it is digested and moves into the small intestine for nutrient absorption. A healthy adult typically has about twenty feet of the small intestine, where individuals affected by short bowel syndrome usually have less than ten feet. Some medical conditions or diseases require a surgical procedure to remove large parts of the individual's small intestine such as ischemia, cancer, trauma, and Crohn's disease. The other reason why short bowel syndrome occurs is when the patient is born with missing or damaged portions of their small intestine that had to be surgically removed shortly after birth. Aside from having a shortened small intestine, several other symptoms can indicate short bowel syndrome.
Malnutrition And Weight Loss
Malnutrition and weight loss are common manifestations of short bowel syndrome in affected individuals. Malnutrition in short bowel syndrome patients is a result of decreased absorptive surface area in the small intestine. The interior lining of the small intestine is specialized to maximize an individual's absorption of nutrients. Finger-like projections are present in the intestinal lining called villi. The function of the villi is to facilitate this nutrient absorption by increasing the intestinal lining surface area. The small intestine is responsible for absorbing vitamins, proteins, minerals, and carbohydrates. Vitamins and minerals are essential for the body to carry out metabolic processes and maintain homeostasis, while the carbohydrates and proteins are essential to make cellular energy. Weight loss occurs when the body is absorbing fewer carbohydrates from the food consumed than it is using up. Malnutrition occurs when the small intestine does not adequately absorb one or more minerals, proteins, or vitamins from the food that passes through it. A shortened small intestine can only perform around half of the absorption that a full-length small intestine can perform.
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