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Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Everyone has bacteria in their gut. They play a crucial part in digestion, but what will happen if things get out of balance and you'll have too much bacteria in your small intestine?

 

What is SIBO?

 

Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth or SIBO is when there are too many bacteria in your small intestine. Some bacteria usually colonize small intestines, but the numbers are lower than large intestines. An excessive number of bacteria in the small intestine can cause food to ferment more quickly as it enters from the stomach. As a result, there is an increase in hydrogen and methane gas production.

The short-term effects of increased gas production include bloating, flatulence, nausea, and abdominal pain. Long-term impact- bacterial overgrowth can lead to local intestinal mucosal inflammation. It damages the intestinal lining, flattening the villi and thinning the mucosa, which causes impaired nutrition absorption, sometimes resulting in vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

 

What causes SIBO?

 

SIBO occurs when the small intestine doesn't move food properly. As a result, bacteria grow and stay in the small intestine too long. When the "good" bacteria that help you digest food cannot keep up with the harmful bacteria, the "bad" bacteria multiply too rapidly, leading to an imbalance. Several factors may contribute to SIBO, including:

 

  • Age: Those who are older may produce less gastric acid, which breaks down food. Also, they are more likely to have diverticulosis.
  • Medical conditions
    • Inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
    • A weakened immune system
    • Diabetes
    • Lupus
  • Use of medicine:
    • Antibiotics that kill both harmful and beneficial bacteria in the gut
    • Medications for irritable bowel syndrome
    • A proton pump inhibitor that reduces stomach acid

 

What are the symptoms of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth?

 

Symptoms of SIBO are associated with its underlying cause. Common symptoms include:

  • Flatulence
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal distension
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue

 

Best probiotics for SIBO?

 

The use of probiotics in SIBO may seem contradictory. However, a particular probiotic yeast, S. boulardii, appears to be beneficial. S. boulardii is a yeast that can be taken along with antibiotics without affecting its function. It has anti-inflammatory properties in the gut. In addition, it inactivates harmful toxins.

 

The takeaway

 

Although taking probiotic supplements alone may not effectively treat small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, they may help accelerate healing by reducing the number of bacteria in the small intestine.

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