What is SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)?

It is estimated that 40%-60% of people with IBS have SIBO. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is defined as the presence of an abnormally high number of bacteria in the small bowel. In the digestive tract, bacteria are normally limited to the large intestine. Most of the bacteria contained in food are killed by the acidity of the stomach, so the small intestine usually has few bacteria. In some conditions, called “bacterial overgrowth”, bacteria exist in high concentrations in the small intestine. Their presence in that area can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and other essential nutrients, so it is important to diagnose the condition. It is associated with a broad range of predisposing small intestinal motility disorders and with surgical procedures that result in bowel stasis. The most common symptoms associated with SIBO include diarrhea, constipation, increased gas, abdominal pain and bloating.

Symptoms of SIBO:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bloating and/or wind
  • Burping and Acid Reflux/GORD
  • Food sensitivities
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Iron and B12 deficiency
  • Respiratory symptoms such as asthma

Causes of SIBO:

  • Post gut infection such as food poisoning
  • Overconsumption of simple carbohydrates
  • Medications: proton pump inhibitors, morphine and other opiates, narcotics, possibly beta agonists and calcium channel blockers
  • Stress: chronic stress can decrease stomach acid output
  • Abdominal surgeries that can cause scarring
  • Initial colonization of bad bacteria: caesarean birth, no breast feeding

Conditions Associated with SIBO:

  • Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – especially associated with diarrhea dominate SIBO
  • Chronic constipation – associated with methane-dominant SIBO
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory Bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
  • Acid reflux
  • Coeliac disease
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Acne Rosacea
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Scleroderma
  • Chronic Prostatitis
  • Fatty liver
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Diverticulitis

Testing for SIBO

Currently the best standard for testing is Hydrogen/Methane Breath Test. Here at Harmony we use the leading lab for testing, AERODIAGNOSTICS.

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