Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is an overcolonization of specific bacteria, usually the colon bacteria, into the small intestine, where they don’t belong.
Although the overall prevalence of SIBO in the general public is unknown, a meta-analysis has shown that the prevalence of SIBO is approximately 56% among patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When all of this bacteria builds up you will see symptoms such as:
- Bloating and gas
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Distention (this is the classic case of a client walking into my office describing having a pregnant belly)
- Abdominal pain
- Skin rashes
- Research has pointed a link between SIBO and fibromyalgia and mental disorders like depression and anxiety
- In more extreme cases, the small intestine may not be able to absorb nutrients. In these clients, I will see weight loss and oftentimes anemia or iron deficiency.
SIBO is not a simple diagnosis and there are different forms of SIBO.
There are many reasons why someone might get SIBO including:
- Low stomach acid
- Poor motility (chronic constipation)
- Immune deficiencies
- Food poisoning
- Anatomical defects such as a fistula, resection, strictures
Breath testing is the standard test that your doctor will use to make a diagnosis. It is important to recognize the limitations of breath testing. If your test is positive for an overgrowth, antibiotics are prescribed to kill the overgrowth.
The hardest part is making sure the overgrowth doesn’t come back. I help clients get to the root cause of their SIBO rather than having to rely on antibiotics. To sign up for my 3-month Rewire Your Gut program, click here.
If you are interested in learning more about SIBO, click the link here to listen to episode 6 to learn more about the treatment and role of diet with SIBO.