How To Overcome Symptoms of SIBO

Young woman sitting on bed hunched over her legs while holding her stomach in pain.

If you’re experiencing extreme levels of gas, diarrhea, nausea, constipation or indigestion, you may be suffering from SIBO. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO, is an uncomfortable medical condition in which too much bacteria have grown in the small intestine. Similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, SIBO can cause damage to the digestive system and lead to malnutrition, leaky gut and other autoimmune diseases. Find out how SIBO develops, what treatments are available to you and what you can do to avoid its development with this guide!


What Is SIBO?

When it comes to gut health, there are a lot of medical conditions that a person can develop, from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to leaky gut and other autoimmune diseases, problems with the intestines can make your life miserable. However, there is one condition in particular that is becoming more and more prevalent: SIBO. SIBO, or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, is a condition in which bacteria has overgrown in the small intestine, causing nutrient malabsorption, digestion issues, bloating, nausea and indigestion. Constipation and diarrhea are also common factors of SIBO, which people often confuse with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) rather than SIBO. Bacteria naturally develops in small quantities in the small intestine but typically occur in the large intestine. The two most common causes for bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine are due to gastric acid secretion and small intestine dysmotility. Gastric acid secretion diminishes the number of ingested bacteria that grows, but when gastric acid secretion diminishes, bacterial counts can skyrocket in the small intestine and cause SIBO. On the other hand, small intestine dysmotility refers to the inability to move food and waste through the digestive tract like normal, causing bacteria to remain in the small intestine longer than it should. This also contributes to SIBO since the material in our bodies aren’t moving through it correctly. This entire process damages the lining of the small bowel and leads to many uncomfortable bowel and digestive issues that can interfere with your daily life. Taking the proper precautions now to prevent SIBO from occurring will be your best bet at living a healthy life.


Who’s At Risk for SIBO?

As testing for SIBO has improved over the years, more people have been able to receive a diagnosis and treat their disorder. Unfortunately, though, SIBO remains one of the most misdiagnosed and underdiagnosed conditions to date, so being able to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of it are paramount in properly treating it. While SIBO can occur in anyone, there are certain risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing it. Frequent use of antibiotics, narcotics, anti-spasm medications for IBS and lengthy proton pump inhibitors (for heartburn) can contribute to SIBO development. If you have a lowered immune system, such as those with HIV, you also have an increased risk of SIBO. Chronic conditions like lupus, diabetes and connective tissue disorders can cause motility issues in the bowel, leading to small intestine dysmotility and eventual SIBO. Surgery and anatomical changes to the body can also cause motility issues, such as gastric bypass surgery, colon surgery and surgery altering the small intestine. There is even a connection between IBS and the development of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. In fact, 36% of patients suffering from IBS could trace their disease back to SIBO. Treating symptoms of SIBO can help prevent IBS from developing and can help you avoid further damage to your digestive system and decrease bacterial overgrowth.


Your Treatment OptionsOlder patient sitting with doctor on a medical table while holding his side.

Even though you may be in a lot of pain, there is hope for you. IBS and SIBO have been around for a long time, giving professionals the time they need to create products and medication that treat their symptoms. For hydrogen-predominant SIBO, the antibiotic rifaximin is commonly prescribed. For methane-predominant SIBO, which is typically harder to treat, rifaximin is also used and combined with a medicine called neomycin. For those who have recurrent SIBO symptoms, diet and lifestyle changes are often recommended (dependent upon your exact nutritional needs) and antimicrobial herbs are frequently prescribed. Limiting your sugar and lactose intake are common recommendations in a SIBO diet and can help reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms. There are also multiple tests that you doctor may recommend to properly diagnose you before prescribing any type of medicine. Breath tests are very common as they capture the increased methane and hydrogen count in your breath caused by excess bacteria in the small intestine. You might even be required to perform a stool test to try and capture changes of bacterial composition in your excrement, but these aren’t as common. Testing and treatment vary from physician-to-physician, but know that you will not be able to successfully treat SIBO on your own. You will need the help of a medical professional to safely triumph over Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.


Improve Your Gastrointestinal Health With Our Help!

At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, Dr. Alessi and her staff can help you overcome your symptoms of SIBO and find joy and fulfillment in your life again. If you’re worried about your gut problems, we can help! Call our office at (970) 631-8286 to schedule a consultation and get the information you need to feel healthy and happy again!