Digestive System Home > Short Bowel Syndrome

Short bowel syndrome can occur in people who have had half or more of their small intestine removed. This group of problems usually includes diarrhea, with cramping, bloating, and heartburn as other possible symptoms. Treatment can involve options such as dietary changes, supplements, and medications.

What Is Short Bowel Syndrome?

Short bowel syndrome is a group of problems affecting people who have had half or more of their small intestine removed. The most common reason for removing part of the small intestine is to treat Crohn's disease.

What Are the Symptoms?

Diarrhea is the main symptom of short bowel syndrome.
Other symptoms include:
Many people with short bowel syndrome are malnourished because their remaining small intestine is unable to absorb enough water, vitamins, and other nutrients from food. They may also become dehydrated, which can be life threatening.
Problems associated with dehydration and malnutrition include:
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Bacterial infections
  • Food sensitivities.

Treatment Options for Short Bowel Syndrome

Short bowel syndrome is treated through changes in diet, intravenous feeding, vitamin and mineral supplements, and medicine to relieve symptoms.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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