Everything you need to know about SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth)

What is SIBO?

SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, is a condition in which there is an excessive number of bacteria in the small intestine. The small intestine is normally inhabited by a small number of bacteria, but in people with SIBO, the bacteria population is much larger and may be made up of different types of bacteria than are normally present in the small intestine.

The small intestine is a part of the digestive system that is responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food we eat. Normally, the small intestine contains a small number of bacteria, but in people with SIBO, the number of bacteria is significantly higher than normal. This excess bacteria can lead to a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and malnutrition.

How common is SIBO?

Studies have suggested that SIBO may be more common in certain groups of people, such as those with certain medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and coeliac disease, and those who have undergone certain medical procedures, such as abdominal surgery.

One study conducted in 2016 estimated that the prevalence of SIBO in people with IBS was approximately 41%., while other studies estimate that this could be up to 80%. It is a important to test for SIBO and bacteria overgrowth before taking any anti-microbial herbs or antibiotics as they can kill off good bacteria that break down foods and can worsen symptoms in those who do not have SIBO or bacteria overgrowth.

What are the common causes of SIBO?

SIBO is often caused by problems with the muscles in the wall of the small intestine, which can prevent the normal movement of food through the digestive system. This can cause food to remain in the small intestine for longer than normal, providing an opportunity for bacteria to grow and multiply. Other factors that may contribute to the development of SIBO include certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and celiac disease, and the use of certain medications, such as antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors.

How is SIBO diagnosed?

It is often diagnosed through a breath test that measures the levels of certain gases produced by bacteria in the intestine.

How can I get relieve from SIBO symptoms

Treatment for SIBO typically involves the use of antibiotics or herbs (or both)to reduce the number of bacteria in the small intestine. In some cases, dietary changes, such as following a low-fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAP) diet or Bi-phasic diet, may also be recommended to help alleviate symptoms.

What is Intestinal Methane Overgrowth and is it different to SIBO?

Intestinal methane overgrowth, on the other hand, refers to an excess of methane-producing bacteria in the intestine. Methane is a gas that is produced by certain types of bacteria as they break down food in the digestive system.

While both SIBO and intestinal methane overgrowth can cause similar symptoms, they are caused by different types of bacteria and can be diagnosed and treated differently. SIBO is typically diagnosed using a hydrogen breath test, in which the patient consumes a sugar solution and then exhales into a device that measures the amount of hydrogen in their breath. High levels of hydrogen in the breath may indicate the presence of excess bacteria in the small intestine. Intestinal methane overgrowth, on the other hand, is typically diagnosed using a breath test that measures the amount of methane in the breath. Treatment for both conditions may involve the use of antibiotics, as well as dietary changes.