Are gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, constipation or pain your frequent mealtime “companions”? Do you get uncomfortably full after eating and so bloated you look like you’re five months pregnant? Are you unintentionally losing weight? Or maybe you wake up feeling OK, but your symptoms only worsens the day goes on?
Are gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, constipation or pain your frequent mealtime “companions?" Do you get uncomfortably full after eating and so bloated you look like you’re five months pregnant? Or maybe you wake up feeling OK, but your symptoms only worsen asthe day goes on?
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, the digestive distress you’re experiencing is not normal! It’s a sign that something is wrong. A condition called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO, could be the culprit. Antacids and other GI medications won’t help and, in fact, will likely worsen the condition. Here at Integrative Wellness Centers, we've helped hundreds of patients overcome SIBO, and we can help you, as well.
WHAT IS SIBO?
You may not have heard of SIBO – and chances are your doctor might not have either. But, SIBO is an established medical condition recognized by respected organizations such as the Mayo Clinic (1) and Johns Hopkins Medical Institute (2). As the name implies, SIBO is a condition where bacteria overgrowth occurs in the small intestine. While large amounts of bacteria are normal in the large intestine, they are not normal in the small intestine. Because the bacteria are not where they’re supposed to be – and because these bacteria are often the “bad” or unhealthy type -- they interact with foods in a way they shouldn't. The result: uncomfortable and painful digestive symptoms.
Unfortunately, SIBO won’t just clear up on its own. SIBO is a progressive condition. It may start with certain carbohydrates or fibrous foods causing symptoms but can progress to the point where a person can barely eat or drink. While SIBO was initially thought to occur in only a small number of patients such as those with anatomic abnormalities or motility disorders, researchers have found it is more common than previously thought. (3). We certainly are seeing more and more cases here at Integrative Wellness Centers, but the good news is we also have the knowledge and experience to work on nailing down the causes and assist you in getting well again.
THE 3 MAIN CAUSES 0F SIBO
There are 3 common causes of SIBO that we see in our clinic.They include:
1. Constipation. Food not moving through the digestive tract in an efficient manner can set the stage for SIBO. If your GI transit time is lengthened, excess bacteria isn’t being cleared properly. Fecal matter that’s supposed to be in the large intestine can “back up” into the small intestine, bringing in bacteria that shouldn’t be there. Recent research has found that patients with underlying SIBO have significant delays in small bowel transit time when compared to those without. (4). Constipation can be a symptom and cause of SIBO, and it’s a vicious circle that can go on and on without proper treatment.
2. Acid Reflux Medications. If you’ve ever gone to doctor for GI symptoms, there’s a pretty good chance you were prescribed medication for acid reflux or told to take an over-the-counter antacid. The problem with this is that stomach acid plays a crucial role in killing off “bad”bacteria before it can get to the small intestine. By lowering the amount of acid in your stomach, you’re increasing the chance that bacteria that is normally destroyed in the stomach survives and travels to the small intestine. Unfortunately, acid reflux medications are often a “go to” treatment when doctors can't find a cause for your symptoms or their treatments have failed. Acid reflux medications are also not supposed to be taken for more than 14 days, yet many people take them for months or even years. If you’ve been taking meds for acid reflux and are suffering from GI symptoms, you should consider SIBO as a possible cause.
3. Antibiotic Use. Antibiotics are an important tool in fighting off bacterial infections. The dilemma is that although antibiotics do an effective job at killing harmful bacteria, they also destroy the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. This allows bad bacteria to become “opportunists” and flourish, resulting in the unpleasant symptoms we’ve discussed. We often see patients who are experiencing SIBO symptoms who have recently had surgery or been sick and had a course of antibiotics prescribed, but never made the connection between the two. If you’ve taken antibiotics and are experiencing SIBO symptoms, the medications could be behind your problems. You can read more about medication that can destroy your beneficial gut bacteria in our blog here: https://www.iwcenters.com/blog/top-4-meds-that-are-destroying-your-microbiome
THE RIGHT TESTING MATTERS – A LOT!
Because bacterial overgrowth affects the release of hydrogen and methane gases in your digestive system, the best way to diagnose SIBO is to test these gas levels. When we suspect a patient has SIBO, it isimportant for us to know specifically which gas is elevated so that we can develop the proper treatment protocol. At IWC, we use a SIBO Breath Test that’s considered the gold standard and allows us to see a patient’s hydrogen and methane gas levels.The test results then determine what course of treatment a patient should have.
If you think you may be suffering from SIBO and aren’t getting any help from your doctor, give us a call at 734-779-1650 for a free consultation. We are committed to taking a functional medicine approach and finding the root causes of your condition instead of covering up your symptoms with medications that will only make things worse. At IWC, we do specific testing, develop an individualized treatment plan, and provide support every step of the way. We’ve successfully treated many patients with SIBO,and we’d love to help you, too.
When you sign up you'll receive free access to our Hormones Report, Program Guide and more.