When a patient has SBS, their body has a hard time absorbing all the nutrients & fluids it needs. Learn more about SBS symptoms."

Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS) Symptoms"

New symptoms after intestinal surgery can sometimes point to SBS

When you develop new symptoms after the removal of part or all of your intestines, you should talk to your doctor.

Short Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

When you have Short Bowel Syndrome, your body has a hard time absorbing all the nutrients and fluids it needs to function normally. This is often accompanied by a series of unpleasant symptoms.

These symptoms may be your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. If you experience one or more of the following symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.

Common SBS Signs and Symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • High ostomy output, which is typically more than eight cups of fluid from an ostomy in a 24-hour period
  • Irregular stools or changes in bowel habits
  • Malnutrition
  • Difficulty maintaining weight
  • Signs of dehydration, including dark-colored urine, infrequent urination, muscle cramping and/or excessive thirst

Additional SBS Signs and Symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue or sleep deprivation
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain and cramping
  • Heartburn
  • Bacterial infections
  • New food allergies and sensitives
Kevin, a short bowel syndrome (SBS) patient

“The biggest aspect of my life with SBS is probably the diarrhea and fatigue. You need to be close to a bathroom, because when you need to go, you need to go.”

- Kevin, SBS patient

Ostomy supplies

Potential issues with an Ostomy

Some people with SBS have an ostomy, which is a surgical opening (called a stoma) created through the skin of the stomach that allows the elimination of bodily waste. An ostomy basically lets your body get rid of waste while detouring around certain parts of the gastrointestinal tract. However, there can be symptoms that can affect one's ostomy:

  • High ostomy output
  • Blockage
  • Internal, stoma or anal bleeding
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Infection
  • Irritation of the internal pouch, or “pouchitis”
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • "Phantom rectum," which is the feeling that a rectum is still in use (when it isn't) or the sensation that a removed rectum hurts or is still there
  • Rectal discharge
  • Dark and/or infrequent urination
Norma, a short bowel syndrome (SBS) patient

“After my resection, I had a permanent ileostomy. I had to adjust and to face the fact that I had an ostomy and accept it as part of my life… because I didn't intend to give up and stop living. So i adjusted and made it part of my life.”

- Norma, SBS Patient

A Patient's Guide to Managing a Short Bowel by Carol Rees Parrish, MS, RD.

For tips on how to manage certain SBS symptom side effects, such as soreness from chronic diarrhea, sign up to receive a copy of A Patient’s Guide to Managing a Short Bowel by Carol Rees Parrish, MS, RD, and talk to your doctor.

If you experience any of the symptoms on this page, talk to your doctor.

Do you have any of the above short bowel syndrome (SBS) symptoms? Talk to your doctor.

Do you experience or have you experienced any of the above symptoms?

If yes or unsure, complete the Doctor Discussion Guide and talk to your doctor.