Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when the bacteria that normally live within the large intestine start to grow into the small intestine. This increase in the bacterial population in the small intestine results in problems with the digestive system such as poor absorption of nutrients. SIBO is most common in people who have pre-existing gut-related health issues such as inflammatory bowel disease or coeliac disease and less common in patients with bowel symptoms but healthy bowels such as food intolerances or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) but can affect anyone.
What causes SIBO?
Normally, the bacteria in the small intestine are controlled by chemicals like gastric acid, bile, enzymes and immunoglobulins and also the normal movement of food contents to the large intestine. SIBO occurs when the normal chemical functions and the movement of the gut are altered allowing bacteria to overgrow from the large bowel into the small bowel A number of factors can cause this to happen including: Complications of abdominal surgery Structural problems in and around the small intestine Certain medical conditions, including Crohn’s disease, radiation enteritis, scleroderma, coeliac disease and diabetes Overuse of certain medications A weakened immune systemGiven the heart’s never-ending workload, it’s a wonder it performs so well, for so long, for so many people.
But it can also fail, brought down by a poor diet and lack of exercise, smoking, infection, unlucky genes, and more.
A key problem is atherosclerosis. This is the accumulation of pockets of cholesterol-rich gunk inside the arteries. These pockets, called plaque, can limit blood flow through arteries that nourish the heart — the coronary arteries — and other arteries throughout the body. When a plaque breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Although many people develop some form of cardiovascular disease (a catch-all term for all of the diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels) as they get older, it isn’t inevitable.
A healthy lifestyle, especially when started at a young age, goes a long way to preventing cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle changes and medications can nip heart-harming trends, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, in the bud before they cause damage. And a variety of medications, operations, and devices can help support the heart if damage occurs.
What are the symptoms of SIBO?
Many SIBO symptoms are the same as those of other gastrointestinal conditions. Depending on the severity of the condition symptoms can include: Abdominal pain Abdominal swelling Nausea Bloating Indigestion Flatulence Diarrhoea Constipation Loss of appetite An uncomfortable feeling of fullness after eating Unintentional weight loss Fatigue Diagnosing SIBO based on the symptoms alone is difficult due to the overlap with other conditions. A simple breath test can measure the levels of hydrogen in the breath. A change in hydrogen levels after drinking a sugary drink can indicate an overgrowth of bacteria.
What are the treatment options for SIBO?
If possible, the underlying cause of SIBO should be treated. The initial treatment for SIBO is a course of antibiotics to reduce the abnormal bacteria. In patients with underlying health conditions, the bacteria may return so long-term treatment may be neede