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SIBO Treatment: How to Effectively Address Your Condition

SIBO Treatment: How to Effectively Address Your Condition

The intestine is home to bacteria and other microorganisms which help the body break down food and improves immunity against other harmful bacteria. Excessive presence of bacteria can cause SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. Learn more about the condition including SIBO treatment and other steps to prevent it.

What is SIBO?

SIBO is when you have too much bacteria in your small intestines which throws off the balance of its natural flora. These bacteria are either not supposed to be found in this area of the digestive tract or their numbers are above normal.

There are two tests that can confirm this:

  1. Bacteria culture test – This involves getting samples in your small intestines to check the presence of bacteria. It is an invasive procedure where a tube is passed from your mouth to your digestive tract, but the results are more reliable than the breath test.
  2. Breath test – Patients are given a sugar solution to see how their body will break it down. The breath test will be done to check the presence of hydrogen and methane, which is an indicator of SIBO.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of SIBO?

People suffering from SIBO may experience the following signs and symptoms, which are similar to other abdominal ailments.

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Unintentional Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
  • Weakness

If these signs and symptoms persist for more than a few days, it is best to see your doctor and have it checked.

What Are the Causes of SIBO?

SIBO can be caused by different circumstances such as a decline in gastric acid, intestinal dysmotility (when the muscles of the digestive tract do not work as they should), and obstructions in the small intestine.

Gastric acid acts as a balancing agent in the digestive tract where it limits bacterial growth. Loss in gastric acid increases the chance of the growth of bacteria. The slow movement of food in the digestive tract also causes SIBO as it creates more opportunities for bacteria to multiply while the food stays longer in the tract. If there is abnormal growth such as tumors, scar tissues, or caused by previous surgery, these are the best breeding grounds of bacteria.

What are the Risks and Complications with SIBO?

The risk of having SIBO increases with the following conditions.

  • Old age
  • Medications that suppress gastric acid production
  • Organ system dysfunction
  • Motility disorder that affects the movement of food
  • People who experience IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Injuries or unusual growth in the small intestine
  • Diabetes

Complications associated with SIBO can be seen with vitamin and mineral deficiencies, osteoporosis, fatty stool, and weight loss. These conditions are due to the body not being able to absorb the nutrients that it needs because of abnormal bacterial growth. SIBO treatment is needed as these can be harmful and cause other illnesses if left untreated.

SIBO treatment

SIBO Treatment

There are a few things that can be done to treat and prevent SIBO. It can start from taking antibiotics as a SIBO treatment and watching the food that you eat. When it comes to medication, only take those prescribed by your doctor.

Use of Antibiotics

This should be done with the help of your doctors. They will prescribe the best treatment depending on your medical history, how significant the bacterial overgrowth is, and your body’s response to the medicine. Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed to maintain their efficacy.

What the antibiotics do is reduce the overgrowth of bacteria and for your bowels to function normally. The use of antibiotics would depend on the type of bacteria present and the tests conducted.

Changes in Diet

Aside from treating vitamin and mineral deficiencies caused by SIBO, changing what you eat also helps minimize the discomfort you feel in your abdominal area.

Consuming food with low FODMAP reduces the fermentable products in your digestive tract. The more food you take in with these types of sugar, the more chances that bacteria will thrive in your system.

Consult your doctor before starting a diet to maximize the benefits of your SIBO treatment. Jumping into a new diet without any help from health professionals can also cause nutritional deficiencies which can be avoided beforehand. Also, changes in diet are not the cure for SIBO, but it supplements and strengthens your body while taking medications.

Key Takeaways

SIBO develops when there’s an imbalance of bacteria in your small intestines. It can lead to complications if left untreated. Fortunately, there is available SIBO treatment, and the condition can be addressed through diet, medication, and the like. It’s best to consult your doctor for the best treatment for your case.

Learn more about SIBO here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/small-intestinal-bacterial-overgrowth/symptoms-causes/syc-20370168, Accessed March 15, 2021 Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth - A Comprehensive Review, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099351/, Accessed March 15, 2021 Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: Clinical Features and Therapeutic Management, https://journals.lww.com/ctg/fulltext/2019/10000/small_intestinal_bacterial_overgrowth__clinical.2.aspx, Accessed March 15, 2021 ACG Clinical Guideline: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, https://journals.lww.com/ajg/fulltext/2020/02000/acg_clinical_guideline__small_intestinal_bacterial.9.aspx, Accessed March 15, 2021 Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890937/, Accessed March 15, 2021

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Written by Elaine Felicitas Updated Mar 30
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel