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.