Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) happens when the general bacterial population in the small intestine increases abnormally, especially bacteria that aren’t normally found in that portion of the digestive tract. Blind loop syndrome is a term used to describe this disease.
SIBO occurs when a situation, such as surgery or sickness, delays the movement of food and waste items through the digestive tract, allowing bacteria to thrive.
Bloating is a typical symptom of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Other signs and symptoms include stomach pains, diarrhea, excessive flatulence, weight loss, and nutritional deficiency symptoms. Serious diarrhea or steatorrhea affects some people (light-colored, soft, bulky, greasy, and unusually foul-smelling stool).
SIBO is most commonly a side effect after stomach (abdominal) surgery, however it can also be caused by structural issues or certain disorders. Antibiotics are the most usual treatment, while surgery may be required in some cases.
What is SIBO?
SIBO or known as “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth” is a serious small intestine disorder. When the bacterial population in the small intestine increases, it causes diarrhea. It can also cause malnutrition as germs consume the body’s nutrients. It means your small intestine bacteria have grown out of control, and the mechanisms that keep your gut flora in check aren’t operating. Although having bacteria in your small intestine is normal and healthy, having too many can create digestive difficulties, especially if the bacteria are the incorrect kind.
The bad bacteria can crowd out the good bacteria you need, and they can disturb your digestive system by eating things that aren’t suited for them. These bacteria could be present in small numbers in various areas of the gut and are regularly removed. This causes discomfort as well as diarrhea.
Signs and Symptoms of SIBO
SIBO symptoms differ from person to person, depending on how serious the bacterial overgrowth is and whether the person has any underlying diseases.
When bacteria that normally develop in other sections of the gut become caught in the small intestine, they ferment and generate gas, or they change the sort of bacteria that live there. Bloating, discomfort, belching, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation are all symptoms of gas.
The presence of these gases, which are usually hydrogen and methane, can produce a variety of symptoms, the six most common of which are:
It is a sense of fullness and discomfort that occurs 1-2 hours after consuming high-carbohydrate meals (sugars are a type of carbohydrate).
2. Abdominal Pain
Bloating causes abdominal pain by stretching the intestinal walls, which can be exceedingly uncomfortable. This pain can be crushing for some people, preventing them from performing everyday duties.
3. Excessive Belching
Once the gas in the small intestine has built up, it has to go somewhere. While it’s common to belch after eating or drinking, especially something effervescent, SIBO can induce extremely excessive belching, which is both uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Proton pump inhibitors, which are used to treat reflux symptoms, are thought to be one of the causes of SIBO. These drugs reduce stomach acidity, allowing bacteria to pass into the small intestine. Excessive belching can cause acid to belch from the stomach into the gullet, causing symptoms that mimic reflux like heartburn.
5. Flatulence / Wind
After all, everyone farts. Patients with SIBO are frequently windy and stinky. This can mean not going out for a SIBO patient, which can lead to relationship problems!
6. Diarrhea / Constipation
While diarrhea and constipation are frequently associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), they can also be signs of SIBO. The cause for this symptom is less well understood than the others, but many clinicians believe that at least some people who believe they have IBS actually have SIBO.
What Do SIBO Symptoms Feel Like?
It occurs when bad bacteria colonise your small intestine, resulting in gas and bloating every time you eat!
Painful gas, bloating, nausea, belching, and other systemic symptoms might result from this. SIBO patients are constantly bloated and have a “yucky” feeling.
SIBO can be “silent,” causing various systemic symptoms such as fatigue, joint problems, brain fog, insomnia, and irregular bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea) without the obvious bloating signs.
Nutritional deficiencies and fat or carbohydrate malabsorption are possible side effects of SIBO since nutrients are only partially absorbed in the small intestine, which isn’t functioning properly.
Causes of SIBO That Has Struggling
Do you have gastrointestinal problems that no one appears to be able to solve? Have weeks gone and you’re still dealing with a persistent health issue that refuses to go away? Have you had stool tests and feel like you’ve made progress but aren’t completely healed? You could be suffering from SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth).
SIBO does not happen by chance, there are a variety of reasons why bacteria can migrate to the small intestine, or why the bacteria that are already there can thrive. In this way, SIBO can both cause and be caused by a number of health problems. It’s critical to figure out what triggered SIBO before you can fully treat it. SIBO will most likely reoccur if the cause is not addressed.
It can be difficult to define what causes SIBO because the symptoms are so varied. That is why testing is crucial. The benefit of functional medicine is that we test rather than presume. And a breath test is the gold standard for SIBO testing.
Underlying Causes of SIBO
- Overuse of antibiotics and proton-pump inhibitors
- Chronic stress
- Histamine intolerance
- Neurological symptoms
- Suppressed immune system
- Chronic infections from Lyme disease or other tick borne infections
- Excess estrogens
- Abdominal adhesions
- Poor sleep
- Poor diet
- Surgeries and scar tissue including C-sections
- Ileocecal Valve dysfunction
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
When SIBO is treated alone, the true root cause is not always addressed. That’s why it’s critical to keep looking for the true underlying issue that’s causing your body’s other problems.
SIBO is treatable. A simple breath test can be used at home to diagnose the problem. The patient must drink a sugar solution and then blow into a number of test tubes over the course of many hours. The hydrogen and methane levels in the test tubes are measured, and if they are high, SIBO is likely.