Why are feces called chairs?

Fat stool: these are the causes of steatorrhea

Fat stool: these are the causes of steatorrhea

Fat stool is usually the result of a fat digestion disorder and can indicate various diseases. Here you can find out what fat stool actually is and what causes it can have.

Since our intestines and especially our bowel movements say a lot about our health, it is worth taking a look at the toilet. If there are long-term changes in the color, smell, and texture of the stool, there may be a serious cause. A sign of various diseases can be, for example, the so-called fatty stool (steatorrhea).

What is fat stool?

Fat stool, also called pancreatic stool, is the pathological increase in the fat content in the stool, usually as a result of a Fat digestive disorder (Malassimilation), which can be caused by various causes. Typical characteristics of the fatty stool are a slimy, greasy consistency, a yellow to clay-like color and an unpleasant odor. The chair often also leaves a greasy film in the toilet water or sticks to the toilet bowl. Symptoms of fatty stool can include abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. There are two different forms of fatty stool:

  1. Maldigestion: With maldigestion, digestion is disturbed because the enzymes (lipases) that are important for fat digestion are missing.
  2. Malabsorption: With malabsorption, digestion is not disturbed, but the fats cannot be absorbed by the body, or only very little.

What are the causes of fatty stool?

The treatment of fatty stool depends on the cause. The most common causes of fatty stool are:
  • Gluten intolerance (celiac disease): If you are gluten intolerant and still consume gluten, inflammation can develop that damages the intestinal surface. This means that fats are not absorbed by the body. In this case, avoiding gluten is the only treatment option.
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency: Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency can also cause fatty stools because not enough digestive enzymes are produced in this disease. There is no cure for this pancreatic weakness, but it can be treated with enzyme replacement therapy, in which the missing enzymes are supplied to the body.
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis): If the pancreas is inflamed, fatty stools occur because the pancreas no longer produces lipases. Dietary fats are often excreted directly and undigested. In this case, you should only eat bland foods until you recover.
  • Gallstones: Gallstones can also be the trigger for fatty stools, as they can block the drainage ducts. This blocks the way for the bile to enter the digestive tract. Without sufficient bile, digestive disorders occur. Here the cause must be combated by having the gallstones removed.
  • Inflammation of the biliary tract (cholangitis): Gallstones or bacteria can cause inflammation of the biliary tract, the symptoms of which are fever, upper abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin and digestive problems such as fatty stools. The inflammation can be treated with an antibiotic.
  • Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease: If you have inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease, your digestion is disrupted by constant inflammation that can spread throughout the digestive tract. The disease comes on in flares and there is no cure. However, symptoms can be relieved by taking anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Pancreatic cancer (pancreatic cancer): Fatty stools can also be a sign of pancreatic cancer as it can lead to indigestion. In addition to the surgical removal of the tumor or tumors, the fatty stool can also be treated with enzyme replacement therapy.
  • Bacterial colonization of the small intestine: Various diseases or malfunctions such as diabetes or an underactive thyroid can encourage bacteria to migrate to the intestines. This hinders the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine, which can lead to digestive problems such as fatty stools. An intestinal rehabilitation with antibiotics helps here.
  • Medication: Certain medications can also cause fatty stools. These include weight loss medications and some antibiotics.

Diet for fatty stools

Since fats cannot be properly absorbed by the body, proper nutrition is important for fatty stools. Avoiding fat in general is not a solution, as this can lead to an undersupply and weight loss in the long term.

However, you should reduce the consumption of saturated fat and avoid unhealthy trans fats, which are contained in ready meals, confectionery and fast food, for example. You should also avoid foods such as high-fat cheese, cured meats, canned fish and marinades, legumes and coarse whole grain products. Build more of the healthy, polyunsaturated fatty acids in your diet. Fish and vegetable oils, among other things, are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Vegetables, fine whole grain products, eggs, porridge, poultry and potatoes are also well-tolerated foods.

When should I see a doctor with a fatty stool?

As soon as you notice symptoms of a fatty stool, you should see a doctor, as the causes of steatorrhea are many and the fatty stool can also indicate serious illnesses. The doctor then treats the particular cause. For example, in the case of celiac disease or Crohn's disease, a change in diet is necessary and gallstones can be removed.

Video: The miracle of digestion - the way of food step by step