10 Signs You have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
Diseases like diabetes mellitus can affect the muscles of the intestine and cause temperatures in the intestines to become more elevated than normal.
Do you feel bloated a few hours after eating, to the point that your pants no longer want to stay buttoned? This seems to be more and more common today, with people who wake up with a flat stomach but by the end of the day have a rather distended belly.
Any type of abdominal swelling, even if it’s not excessive, could indicate inflammation of the intestines. If your swelling is accompanied by symptoms like gas and/or bloating, it could indicate that you’re suffering from a sensitivity to certain foods or have a bacterial infection that causes the temperature of your intestines to rise. This is known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
What is SIBO?
Bacterial overgrowth in the intestines occurs when the normal balance is upset, and gut bacteria begin to multiply unchecked. Why does this happen? Lots of times it occurs in people who eat a diet that’s high in carbohydrates, refined foods, alcohol, processed foods, and more. These kinds of foods also serve to feed the bacteria and break down fatty acids, causing gas and bloating.
Another type of bacteria can also break down bile before the body has a chance to use it, causing poor absorption of fats and diarrhea as the condition becomes more advanced.
Finally, a third type of bacteria can produce toxins that damage the lining of the small intestine, preventing the body from absorbing the nutrients it needs.
What are the 10 signs of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth?
The symptoms of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth are quite common, and can easily be mistaken for other conditions. If you have one or more of the following, it’s best to consult your doctor.
- Abdominal distension.
- Malabsorption of fats.
- Food intolerances to lactose, gluten, caffeine, fructose, and others.
- Abdominal pain or cramping.
- Digestion problems like constipation.
- Irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.
- Chronic problems such as fatigue, diabetes, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders, neuromuscular disorders, etc.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, especially vitamin B12.
What causes the overgrowth of bacteria?
Overgrowth of intestinal bacteria occurs when something interferes with the digestive process, which is tasked with carrying the bacteria in food to its final destination in the colon. Damage to the nerves or muscles in the intestine can cause bacteria to remain in the small intestine, which can lead to SIBO. And diseases like diabetes can affect the muscles in the bowel, another risk factor for SIBO.
Other possible causes of abnormal accumulation of bacteria in the gut are physical obstructions in the intestine, such as scars from surgery or Crohn’s disease. Medications that alter the intestinal flora such as antibiotics, acid-blocking drugs, and steroids can also cause SIBO. Finally, as we have already mentioned, one of the main causes of this condition is the consumption of refined foods, alcohol, carbohydrates, sugar, etc.
Can you test for SIBO?
At home you can perform a breath test by following the advice of your doctor. The test usually includes fasting for 12 hours and eating a specified amount of sugar, and then breathing into a balloon every 15 minutes for 3 hours in order to produce breath samples. This test can be used to reveal SIBO or other disorders, like celiac disease or pancreatic malfunction.
In hospitals and clinics, doctors identify this condition by testing urine and stool. You’ll need to first talk to your physician and discuss all your symptoms.
How can SIBO be treated?
One of the first recommendations for treating SIBO is to reduce carbohydrate consumption and avoid refined foods like sugar and flour. Also limit your intake of alcohol, and consult your doctor for any medical treatment. Usually your doctor will prescribe antibiotics – it’s important not to attempt to self-medicate.