Malabsorption syndrome occurs when a problem, usually caused by inflammation, disease or injury, prevents the bowel from properly absorbing nutrients and fluids, according to Healthline. The condition also sometimes results from the body's failure to produce necessary enzymes for digesting certain foods.
Malabsorption occurs when the body fails to extract and absorb nutrients properly from food during the digestive process, Better Medicine explains. This can lead to a deficiency of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients needed by the body. After nutrients are extracted from food, they are usually absorbed by the small intestine and then brought to the bloodstream and into the tissues, muscles and organs. When malabsorption occurs, nutrients are excreted through the stool.
Healthline states that factors that lead to malabsorption include antibiotic use, congenital defects, diseases of the liver, pancreas or gall bladder, intestine damage and conditions that include celiac disease and chronic pancreatitis. It is also caused by some disorders, such as short bowel syndrome, which can be a birth defect or a result of surgery. The signs and symptoms of malabsorption vary depending on the nutrients that the body fails to absorb. A person who experiences fluid retention or hair loss is likely deficient of proteins. Bloating and flatulence are symptoms of deficiency of sugar, while light-colored, foul-smelling stools indicate deficiency of fats.