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What Are the Different Types of Fructose Malabsorption Symptoms?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Fructose malabsorption symptoms are often similar to those of other digestive disorders, such as lactose intolerance. The most commonly reported signs of fructose malabsorption include intestinal bloating, abdominal pain, and gas. Additional symptoms may include constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some patients with fructose malabsorption problems may experience hypoglycemia, fatigue, or eye pain. Any questions or concerns about individual symptoms should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Obtaining an accurate diagnosis for the various fructose malabsorption symptoms can sometimes be difficult, as these symptoms often mimic those of other disorders involving the digestive system. The patient is often asked to keep a food diary that includes all foods and beverages that are consumed along with any symptoms that occur after consumption of these items. Fructose is the natural sugar found in many fruits, so if symptoms consistently begin after eating these fruits or drinking fruit juice, a fructose malabsorption problem is likely. In order to confirm this diagnosis, a test known as a hydrogen breath test is typically administered.

Abdominal pain and bloating are among the most common signs of fructose malabsorption. The bloating is believed to be caused by the fermentation of the fructose in the intestines, while the abdominal pain is frequently caused by violent intestinal spasms that often occur after ingesting foods containing fructose. These spasms can cause very uncomfortable restroom emergencies involving nausea and diarrhea. Some episodes may include alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea, a condition commonly referred to as irritable bowel syndrome.

Intestinal gas, flatulence, and oily stools are among the potential fructose malabsorption symptoms. These symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to severely debilitating. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, may develop as a result of the body's inability to absorb this type of sugar. Moderate to severe fatigue often occurs during one of these episodes and may resolve spontaneously as soon as the other symptoms go away.

The only real treatment for fructose malabsorption symptoms is to avoid the consumption of fructose. Unfortunately, this is not an easy feat, as many commercially prepared products include fructose as an ingredient. Some people can handle small amounts of fructose in the diet without experiencing negative symptoms. For this reason, each person will have to experiment and find the amount of fructose that can be safely added to an individualized dietary plan. A doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist may be able to help the patient devise a healthy eating plan that will minimize the frequency and severity of fructose malabsorption symptoms.

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Discussion Comments

By hanley79 — On Aug 03, 2011

Whoa -- you mean my irritable bowel syndrome could just be caused by fructose malabsorption?! Considering the fact that irritable bowel syndrome is incurable and extremely annoying to deal with on a day to day basis, that's a ray of hope for me.

Also, considering the fact that I've already tried really strict diet control to calm the symptoms down, if cutting out fructose from my diet would make it stop then I'm more than glad to do so. It would be easy.

I'm going to try cutting fructose out and see if my irritable bowel syndrome goes away. I wonder how many people who think they have irritable bowel syndrome actually just have a case of fructose malabsorption syndrome?

By snickerish — On Aug 02, 2011

@amysamp - I definitely think going to the doctor is your best bet. But if you have a long waiting period before you can see a doctor, there is one more thing that might help you...

When I was trying to figure out what was causing my symptoms I would cut out a certain food ingredient possibility (like you had mentioned it may be gluten, fructose, or maybe even something else that could be causing your pain).

What ended up happening was that I cut out a certain ingredient and my symptoms decreased! So I kept going with that diet and paid close attention my body's reaction to certain foods.

Oh and one more key is sometimes fructose intolerance can be family linked. It is called hereditary fructose intolerance and symptoms of this intolerance can be different. The symptoms can range from irritability to convulsions to simply problems following eating foods with fructose.

So you could also look at your family and see if anyone has already started to avoid certain foods because they found they were uncomfortable after eating them, and that might lead you to the foods that are disrupting your system.

By amysamp — On Aug 01, 2011

I am trying to determine if my abdominal pain is IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), fructose intolerance, or a gluten intolerance symptom.

But it looks as though the only way to find out which disorder I have is which is to go get tested... but I hate going to the doctor!

By aLFredo — On Jul 31, 2011

These symptoms seem to be just like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in that one of the main symptoms is abdominal pain which can feel like gas.

I had a friend who had irritable bowel syndrome and it was not fun, until she found out what was causing it. For her she realized she received the painful abdomen symptoms after eating WoW! potato chips. These were the potato chips that had no fat in them and I think were made with Olestra or something like that.

I have not seen these chips any longer so I wonder if they no longer exist because many people had these digestion issues.

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