Tummy troubles are one of the most common complaints that naturopathic doctors deal with. Usually, we have great success–if we can help a patient get to the bottom of food intolerances, rebalance their flora, or deal with stress, then tummy troubles like IBS can become a thing of the past.
But when our usual magic doesn’t clear things up in 8-12 weeks, we start to think that a patient might be dealing with SIBO.
What is SIBO?
SIBO is the acronym for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. In this syndrome, bacteria that normally grows in other parts of the gut start growing in the small intestine where they shouldn’t be. The result is symptoms such as pain in the stomach, especially after eating, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, a regular feeling of fullness, gas and weight loss.
If the SIBO is long-standing, the bacteria can start to use up the body’s nutrients, leading to malnutrition and more global symptoms of fatigue and malaise.
What causes SIBO?
In some cases, SIBO it the result of the bowel’s anatomy and physiology not working probably. There could be an adhesion or stricture in the bowel, so the muscular activity of the intestines breaks down and the food and bacteria aren’t moving through properly. The pH of the intestine could be off resulting in the wrong bacteria growing in the wrong place. The immune system can be out of balance causing bacteria to grow where they shouldn’t.
How do you know you have SIBO?
The wrong bacteria in the small intestine release hydrogen and methane gas. This can be measured by a breath test, where breath samples are taken over a period of time to measure the gasses.
If SIBO is indicated, we then use a three-pronged treatment plan designed to eradicate the bad bacteria, heal the gut lining, and feed the good bacteria!