Undigested Fat In Stools

What Causes Undigested Fat In Stools?

Undigested fat in stools can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'critical'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose undigested fat in stools, we could:
  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "undigested fat in stools" as a symptom.  Here are four possibilities:
  • Short Bowel Syndrome
  • Liver Congestion
  • Heart Disease
  • Cystic Fibrosis

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
history of cysts in breasts
edema of the ankles/lower legs
joint pain/swelling/stiffness
forgetting dreams
history of heart attacks
allergy to chemicals
partial aspartame/neotame avoidance
high uric acid level
slightly oily/sticky stools
bitter taste in mouth
heart attack(s) in father
pain in chest or left side
... and more than 60 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of undigested fat in stools:
Cause Probability Status
Liver Congestion 93% Confirm
Heart Disease 15% Unlikely
Cystic Fibrosis 1% Ruled out
Short Bowel Syndrome 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate irregular stools, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you pass stools containing undigested fat? These stools might be yellow or pale in color, float, contain white specks, or leave an oily film on the toilet water.
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Occasionally
→ Often
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate undigested fat in stools, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Coronary Disease / Heart Attack
In one study, subjects with heart disease had 10 times more fat in their stool than heart-healthy individuals.  This means those with heart disease weren't absorbing their fats [Am J Cardiology 5: p.295, 1960].
Cystic Fibrosis
Most people with cystic fibrosis have difficulty absorbing dietary fat, which in turn leads to steatorrhea.  Cystic fibrosis interferes with the ability of the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes: fat is normally broken down by lipase, a digestive enzyme that is produced and secreted by the pancreas.