Understanding Bile Acid Malabsorption

Bile Acid Malabsorption: What Causes it?

The cause of bile acid malabsorption is not known. There are many theories about its origin. Some say that it could be due to genetic factors, while others believe that there might be environmental factors which influence the development of this condition. However, no one knows why some people develop this disorder whereas other do not. A few studies have been conducted in order to identify possible causes and possible treatments for this condition.

What Is Bile Acid Malabsorption?

Bile acids are small fatty substances produced by the liver. They serve various functions such as lubricating tissues, making certain hormones, and even helping to digest food. When they are absorbed into the body through the digestive tract, they enter into cells where they act like a battery supplying energy to those cells. Unfortunately, too much bile acid is toxic because it inhibits or blocks these cell’s function. This leads to problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, gallstones, and cirrhosis of the liver.

How Does Bile Acid Malabsorption Affect Health?

When bile acid malabsorption interferes with the functioning of the body, it can lead to many problems. The most common problems are related to the liver and the digestive system. When there is not enough bile acid in the digestive system for proper fat digestion, this can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia (low red blood cell count), and steatorrhea (fatty stools). A low level of bile acids in the body causes swelling of the bile ducts, which can result in liver damage. This damage can eventually lead to liver failure and if it progresses long enough, even cancer. Another health problem that is related to bile acid malabsorption is gallstones. If there are too much bile acids in the gallbladder, they can slowly crystallize into stones over time.

What Are the Complications Of Bile Acid Malabsorption?

As mentioned above, bile acid malabsorption can lead to liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes mellitus. It can also be a cause of anemia. This condition is extremely dangerous because it has the potential to damage the body in many different ways. The most serious consequence of bile acid malabsorption is liver cancer, which occurs when the bile ducts are damaged over a long period of time.

How Is Bile Acid Malabsorption Diagnosed?

A complete medical history and physical examination are always required before diagnosing this condition. Blood tests, ultrasounds, and other imaging tests may also be necessary to confirm bile acid malabsorption.

How Is Bile Acid Malabsorption Treated?

Treatment for bile acid malabsorption is mainly focused on reducing the inflammation of the biliary tract (ducts that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine). This can be done by using certain drugs such as ursodiol (Actigall) and tauroursodeoxycholic acid (Tuftsin). Sometimes, a special diet is necessary. The diet involves taking cholestyramine (Questran) in order to absorb bile acids and prevent them from damage the biliary tract. If these drugs and the diet don’t work, then surgery may be necessary. In this case, the surgeon either extracts part of the liver or removes a section of the biliary tract.

Life Expectancy of a Person With Bile Acid Malabsorption

The prognosis of bile acid malabsorption is not as good as that of people suffering from other kinds of malabsorption. This is due to the fact that this condition has serious complications that can result in death. However, if it is diagnosed early enough and the right treatment is given, the patient can potentially live a normal life span.

Acute Pancreatitis

What Is Acute Pancreatitis?

Acute pancreatitis is a condition that affects the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen, and its main function is controlling sugar in the blood and producing various enzymes for the body to use. In this condition, the pancreas becomes inflamed and begins to produce poisons. These poisons will damage the pancreas and possibly damage other organs of the body.

Acute pancreatitis is a very painful condition and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Normally, this condition can be classified into two different groups. The first type of acute pancreatitis is called spastic or traumatic pancreatitis. This type is caused by some physical injury to the abdomen such as high speed traffic accidents, falls, or severe blows to the abdominal area.

Sources & references used in this article:

Recent advances in the understanding of bile acid malabsorption by S Pattni, JRF Walters – British medical bulletin, 2009 – academic.oup.com

Bile acids: trying to understand their chemistry and biology with the hope of helping patients by AF Hofmann – Hepatology, 2009 – Wiley Online Library

Advances in understanding of bile acid diarrhea by M Camilleri – Expert review of gastroenterology & hepatology, 2014 – Taylor & Francis

New insights into bile acid malabsorption by I Johnston, J Nolan, SS Pattni, JRF Walters – Current gastroenterology …, 2011 – Springer