S.I.B.O: What is it, do I have it, and how to treat it?


You might be wondering what all the buzz is about a condition called S.I.B.O or asking yourself, ‘could this be affecting me’? In this week’s blog post, we will give you the scoop on what a diagnosis of S.I.B.O. means, common symptoms, and how it can be treated.

S.I.B.O. is an acronym that stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (try saying that one 5 times fast…). As you can tell by the name, this chronic disorder of the intestines means that the affected individual has an overgrowth of bacteria populating their small intestine. A healthy small intestine generally has very few bacteria residing in this part of the digestive tract. Most bacterial life is found in the large intestine. S.I.B.O. is currently being heavily studied for its increasing prevalence today. While no one has found a definite cause of the disorder, researchers have related many cases with probable causes due to low stomach acid secretions and/or reduced gastrointestinal motility. Individuals at higher risk for  S.I.B.O. include those with: 

  • Gastric anatomical abnormalities

  • Celiac Disease

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Diabetes

  • Crohn’s Disease

  • Frequent antibiotic use

  • H. Pylori Infection

  • Older age

  • Prolonged use of anti-acids

 S.I.B.O. can be difficult to diagnose because it presents with non-specific symptoms that often seem unrelated. Many patients appear to have a variety of different symptoms and no one can tell them what exactly is the cause. Although there are many, some of the most common symptoms of  S.I.B.O. include:

  • Abdominal Pain & Discomfort

  • Abdominal Bloating and/or Distention

  • Diarrhea/Chronic Diarrhea

  • Increased Flatulence

  • Fatigue

  • Nutritional Deficiencies 

  • Weight-loss

  • Weakness

While the presentation of  S.I.B.O. is often difficult to discern, testing can help guide you to a diagnosis. One of the most common methods used is a breath test. The test results when gas produced by the bacterial cultures is exhaled after the patient ingests a specific substrate. We predominantly use this type of testing here at PIM and have kits readily available. 

Treatment of  S.I.B.O. is one that requires an integrative process, which is why many patients turn to us for care. Often times, these patients have tried many avenues and we are their last stop. Treating  S.I.B.O. means treating the root cause. We figure out why the S.I.B.O. developed in the first place. At the same time, we must address and treat the bacterial overgrowth. There are a variety of antimicrobial herbs, medications, and supplements available for this. Additionally, we will evaluate and treat any nutritional deficiencies through diet and supplementation. Some patients find it beneficial to follow a low FODMAP diet or elemental diet to alleviate symptoms during treatment. Lastly, PIM providers help our patients establish diet and lifestyle habits to reduce the chance of S.I.B.O. returning.

We are proud to share that we have many patients who have recovered from S.I.B.O.

PIM wants to hear from you! Are you concerned you might have S.I.B.O ? Do you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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If you or your loved one needs help, perhaps you are suffering from the effects of ongoing stress, mood or hormone imbalance, including thyroid imbalance, or you or they are already working with a doctor to address a condition but want a more comprehensive, empowering approach schedule your a 20 minute free consultation or an appointment with Lynda Sherland, RN, FNP today! Not quite ready to schedule and have questions, quickly get in touch with us today!