What Is Steatorrhea?

Steatorrhea is a condition of abnormal stool composition and consistency that is due to high fat content because fat from food is not  digested and absorbed into the body but rather passes out with stool.1

Q: How does fatty stool look?

A: The stool in steatorrhea appears pale, bulky and may float in the toilet. If stool is loose, it varies from a pudding consistency to whipped cream. If it is solid, it can vary from thin sqiggles to big turds that smear the sides of the toilet bowl. All types have a foul smell.

Fat of any kind must be digested, or broken down, by enzymes into fatty acids and glycerol and then these parts only are absorbed through the small intestinal lining into the body. The failure to digest or absorb fats deprives the body of these foodstuffs needed for many functions such as blood clotting and vital cell parts such as eye and brain structure.

Fat malabsorption produces malabsorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K because these vitamins can only be absorbed along with fatty acids.

What Is Steatorrhea In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?


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  1. Murray JA, The widening spectrum of celiac disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Mar 1999;69 (3):354-365. []