A blind loop can cause escalating problems, including:

  • Poor absorption of fats. Bacteria in your small intestine break down the bile salts needed to digest fats. As a result, your body can't fully absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Incomplete absorption of fats leads to diarrhea, weight loss and vitamin deficiency disorders.
  • Damage to the intestinal lining. Toxins that are released when bacteria break down stagnant food harm the mucous lining (mucosa) of the small intestine. As a result, most nutrients, including carbohydrates and proteins, are poorly absorbed, leading to serious malnourishment.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency. Bacteria in the small intestine absorb vitamin B-12, which is essential for the normal functioning of your nervous system and the production of blood cells and DNA. A severe B-12 deficiency can lead to weakness, fatigue, tingling and numbness in your hands and feet, and, in advanced cases, to mental confusion. Damage to your central nervous system resulting from a B-12 deficiency may be irreversible.
  • Brittle bones (osteoporosis). Over time, damage to your intestine from abnormal bacterial growth causes poor calcium absorption, and eventually may lead to bone diseases, such as osteoporosis.
  • Kidney stones. Poor calcium absorption may also eventually result in kidney stones.
Feb. 26, 2015