Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common reasons for doctors visits in Canada, and is characterized by excess gas and bloating, abdominal pain or cramping, and diarrhea and/or constipation.
IBS is considered a functional disorder, so most traditional tests will come back as normal, and the patient (YOU) is told "it's all in your head." Because there is no physical problem that has been identified and it is not life-threatening, you are sent on your way with little more than a pat on the back and good luck. Sound familiar?
The good news is that we have identified the problem! Newer research has shown that up to 84% of those with IBS symptoms may actually be suffering from Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
Gas, bloating, heartburn?
Could be SIBO
What Is SIBO?
SIBO ("see-bow") is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, a place where they are not meant to be. The bacteria ferment carbohydrates from our diet and produce gases, which cause symptoms such as excess gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and depending on the type of gas produced, diarrhea and/or constipation.
What Conditions Are Associated With SIBO?
SIBO has also be associated with a wide variety of conditions, including Acid Reflux, Rosacea, Celiac Disease, Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, and Leaky Gut. For a full list of associated conditions, visit this link.
Is There A Test For SIBO?
SIBO can be detected using a breath test that measures the presence of Hydrogen and Methane gases after drinking a solution that feeds bacteria. The test is done at home, and involves a prep diet the day before, an overnight fasting, and breath sample collection every 20 minutes for 3 hours.
How Is SIBO Treated?
The first stage of treatment typically involves specific antibiotics or herbal antimicrobials to eradicate the bacterial overgrowth, along with a specific diet to starve the bacteria. The herbs or antibiotics that are used differ depending on the breath test results and whether hydrogen and/or methane producing bacteria are present. This phase typically takes 2-6 weeks.
Along with eradication of the bacterial overgrowth, it is essential to determine why SIBO came about in the first place. This can be due to a number of factors, including previous gastrointestinal infection/food poisoning, nerve damage, low thyroid function, diabetes, surgery/scar tissue, etc. The proper maintenance and prevention will depend on these underlying causes.
How Can I Get Help???
If you are tired of suffering from digestive problems and have tried everything but nothing seems to help, identifying and treating SIBO may be the key to restoring your health.