Do you suffer from chronic bloating regardless of what you eat? Are you plagued by digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of both? Up to 78% of people who believe they have IBS may actually have SIBO: small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. If these symptoms sound familiar, it may be time to get tested. Let’s learn more about SIBO below.
What is SIBO?
We’ve all come to know and love the gut microbiome in recent years. What we don’t often think about is that the gut microbiome needs to stay where it’s supposed to stay: in the large intestine. When microbes, whether beneficial or harmful, reside in the small intestine, your body has a problem on its hands: SIBO.
The small intestine is meant for nutrient breakdown and absorption. Microbes can get in the way of this process. That’s why most of them are intended to reside in the large intestine. SIBO occurs when an excessive number of bacteria, whether beneficial or harmful, take up residence in the small intestine.
SIBO can cause brutally unpleasant symptoms, such as putrid gas, burping or reflux, bloating or extreme distention, constipation, diarrhea, trouble focusing (referred to as “brain fog”), poor memory, and dysregulated or fluctuating weight. It’s nothing you want to mess with.
If these symptoms seem to be akin to something you’re going through, keep on reading for more help!
Types of SIBO
Identifying the specific type of SIBO is crucial for effective treatment, as each variation responds differently to therapies. The classification of SIBO is based on the invading bacterial strain, the symptoms experienced by the patient, and the type of gas produced. The three primary types are methane-dominant SIBO, hydrogen-dominant SIBO, and hydrogen-sulfide-dominant SIBO.
It’s possible to have more than one type simultaneously. Notably, these types affect gut motility differently, with methane-dominant SIBO causing constipation, hydrogen-dominant SIBO leading to diarrhea, and hydrogen-sulfide-dominant SIBO resulting in a combination of both.
Testing for SIBO
To accurately diagnose SIBO and determine the specific type, testing is essential. The most accessible and cost-effective method is a dual breath test, which can be prescribed by a gastroenterologist or ordered online. This test measures the levels of methane and hydrogen gases produced by the body after consuming a specific liquid.
Breath tests for SIBO are not always perfectly accurate. Lactulose-based tests may produce false positives, while glucose-based tests are more accurate but may yield false negatives. We always recommend that you see a healthcare professional experienced in SIBO treatment to interpret test results accurately. Gut health dietitians are fantastic resources.
The Takeaway: SIBO May Cause Your IBS Symptoms
SIBO is nothing you want to mess with. It’s challenging to barrel through the symptoms, and it’s challenging to treat! Early intervention and diagnosis are crucial for successful treatment. Find a gastroenterologist or gut health dietitian to get tested. Tune in for our next blog on SIBO to learn how to get rid of it for good!