Living with SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth is a big challenge, where the patient must regularly struggle through diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, and high levels of gas in the stomach. In the long run, it can severely decrease the quality of your life and at worse cause serious complications in your digestive system. Keep reading this article to learn more about SIBO, its symptoms, causes, and one can deal with this underlying medical condition effectively.
What is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO?
SIBO is the acronym of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, it is a digestive disorder when excessive bacteria grow in the small intestine. It leads to a wide range of painful chronic digestive problems like constipation, bloating, excess production of gas in the stomach, and diarrhea. This bacterial overgrowth of bacteria also causes nutrient and fat malabsorption resulting in malnutrition, vomiting, mucus in stools, gas, and unbearable pain. SIBO’s other name is SBBOS – Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome.
Causes of SIBO
The root cause of SIBO is primarily the excessive bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine. Here are the possible reasons and key factors that promote the growth of these micro-organisms:
- Immune system not working efficiently.
- Anatomic abnormalities and problems in the small bowel
- Hypochlorhydria – a condition seen in older people when the stomach secretes less stomach acid that later exposes the small intestine to bacterial proliferation.
- pH changes in the small intestine
- Reduced muscular activity in the small intestine.
- Overdose of narcotics and antibiotics
- Other associate medical conditions like hypothyroidism, diabetes, scleroderma, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, gastroparesis, nerve damage, portal hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, cirrhosis, gastroenteritis, or strictures causing surgeries.
Symptoms of SIBO
People suffer from the following painful and uncomfortable symptoms while dealing with SIBO.
- Bloating (gets even worse on the consumption of carbs, sugar, or fiber)
- Feeling that stomach is always full.
- Excess production of gas
- Weight loss
- Pain in the stomach
- Mucus in stools
- Nutritional deficiency
- Foul-smelling stools that stick to the bowl
- Skin problems like acne, eczema, rosacea, and rashes
- Fat malabsorption
How to Deal with SIBO? – Possible SIBO Treatments
1. Take Antibiotics
Doctors recommend antibiotic therapy to SIBO patients with the core purpose of reducing the excessive bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine and bringing it under control. They prescribe antibiotics like metronidazole, rifaximin, ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, and amoxicillin. Out of these, rifaximin or Xifaxan is one of the most effective anti-biotic that significantly reduces the underlying symptoms and does not get absorbed into the bloodstream, thereby causing fewer side effects compared to other antibiotics. However, this mode of treatment does not address the root cause and may result in SIBO relapses.
2. Make Dietary Changes
Diets help in fulfilling the nutritional deficiencies caused by excessive bacterial overgrowth in the intestine as well as address the root cause of SIBO. Elemental and Low-FODMAP are the most popular diets that SIBO patients follow sincerely and get effective results.
In elemental diet, patients consume food in nutritionally complete formulas. These formulas are pre-digested and come in different forms like powders or liquids that you can directly dissolve in water and consume without any problems. They are easy to digest, contain amino acids, sugars, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. And these nutrients get easily absorbed in the digestive tract without relying on the small intestine for digestion.
FODMAP is the acronym of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are a group of short-chain carbohydrates that the small intestine finds hard to digest and absorb properly. In the FODMAP diet, the purpose is to reduce the intake of these short-chain carbohydrates by following a three-step elimination process:
Step 1: Stop eating high FODMAP foods.
Step 2: Slowly start eating FODMAP foods to see which ones cause primary problems.
Step 3: Once you have figured out the foods responsible for adverse SIBO symptoms you can eliminate them from your diet and take everything left out.
Here is a short SIBO diet food list that should be included in your diet:
- Almond milk
- Rice, Quinoa, and Oats
- Eggplant, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Zucchini, and Cucumbers
- Grapes, Blueberries, Pineapple, and Oranges
- Feta and Cheddar Cheese
Plus make sure to avoid high FODMAP foods like:
- Milk, yogurt, butter, soft cheeses & ice cream
- Legumes, Beans, and lentils
- Asparagus, onions, garlic, mushroom
- Apples, pears, peaches, and cherries