The signs that you have intestinal bacterial overgrowth can present in a variety of ways and affect people of all ages and genders.
SBID (Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth) is a disease that affects more people over the years, and it is very important to know more about it to identify the causes and find a way to treat it.
Have you ever eaten something and in a few hours you realized that your stomach is so bloated that you cannot button the pants? It is not uncommon for my patients to tell me that they wake up with a flat stomach and at the end of the day they look like six months pregnant.
Even if you have not experienced abdominal bloating to this extreme, any amount of bloating is not normal, it is a sign of intestinal inflammation. If you regularly experience gas and / or bloating, you could have food sensitivities and / or an intestinal infection, such as SBID (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth).
What is intestinal bacterial overgrowth
Gut bacteria overgrowth occurs when bacteria in our gut become unbalanced and overgrow. I often say to myself: “Too much of a good thing can be bad. "How do we get to have too many bacteria of one type over the others? This can manifest itself in a number of different ways, and it frequently occurs in those who consume a diet high in sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates. Certain strains of bacteria feed on refined carbohydrates and break them down into short-chain fatty acids, creating gas and causing bloating.
Another strain of bacteria can break down bile salts before your body has a chance to use them. Bile salts are crucial for the breakdown of fats; without them the end result is poor absorption of fat or diarrhea.
Finally, a third type of bacteria can produce toxins that damage the lining of the small intestine. This prevents the body from absorbing the nutrients it needs, much like what we see with a leaky gut.
What Causes Bacteria Overgrowth?
Our gut relies on nerves, muscles, enzymes, and neurotransmitters to properly digest food. While enzymes primarily break down food, nerves, muscles, and neurotransmitters physically move food through our digestive tract from the stomach to the small intestine and colon. When this happens in a healthy intestine, the bacteria are passed through the digestive tract along with food to its final destination in the colon. Problems arise when something interferes with this process.
Damage to the nerves or muscles in the intestine can lead to bacteria debris in the small intestine, increasing your risk of bacterial overgrowth. For example, diabetes mellitus and scleroderma can both affect the muscles in the intestine, leaving room for the development of bacterial overgrowth.
Physical obstructions in the intestine, such as scars from surgery or Crohn's disease, can also cause an abnormal accumulation of bacteria in the small intestine. Diverticula, which are small pockets that form in the wall of the small intestine, can also collect bacteria instead of passing it to the colon where it belongs.
There are also medications that influence or alter the normal intestinal flora, such as antibiotics, acid-blocking drugs, and steroids. And of course, as I mentioned above, the most common cause I see in my functional medicine clinic is from a diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol.
10 Signs of Bacterial Gut Overgrowth (SBID)
· Abdominal pain or cramps
· Constipation (much less common than diarrhea)
· Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Inflammatory Bowel Disease
· Food intolerances like gluten, casein, lactose, fructose, and more
· Chronic diseases such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, neuromuscular disorders, and autoimmune diseases.
· Vitamin B12 deficiency, as well as other vitamins and minerals
· Fat malabsorption
How to Test for Bacterial Overgrowth
This is the gold standard; however, it is quite cumbersome. Individuals have to fast for 12 hours, breathe into a small balloon, ingest an exact amount of sugar, and repeat the breath samples every 15 minutes for 3 hours or more. Abnormal breath tests can also indicate pancreatic insufficiency and celiac disease.
Organix Dysbiosis Test
This functional medicine lab test tests urine for by-products of bacteria in the small intestine. If the small intestine is housing a yeast or bacterial overgrowth, by-products will appear in the urine, indicating their presence. This test is much easier for patients and only requires a single urine sample. This is the test that I use most frequently in my clinic.
Comprehensive stool sample
This is also a functional medicine lab test looking at the flora of the large intestine. If I see all elevated levels of good bacteria, I suspect bacterial overgrowth.
History: By listening to the patient's history and symptoms, I am often able to make a diagnosis.
How to treat bacterial overgrowth in the gut
The standard treatment for bacterial overgrowth is an antibiotic called Xifaxan. Because Xifaxan is not well absorbed by the body, it mostly stays in the intestine and is very effective against bacterial overgrowth. In my practice, I put my patients on a low carbohydrate diet free of refined flours, sugars, and alcohol. I also use a combination of herbs for 30 days. Also, I follow a program to heal my gut.
Similar to candida overgrowth, those who are susceptible to bacterial overgrowth may have a recurrence after treatment. It is recommended to adopt a long-term diet that is low in carbohydrates and especially refined carbohydrates.
If you need additional help, I recommend finding a functional medicine physician in your area.