Anyone who suffers from IBS knows that there are many causes that trigger attacks. Stress is one of them, but only one of many IBS causes. In fact, SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth has been found in studies to be directly related to IBS. So the logical answer to the question “can small intestinal bacterial overgrowth cause IBS” is likely yes.
What is SIBO?
SIBO is bacteria overgrowth of the small intestine. The small intestine plays a key role in healthy digestion and contains a small amount of bacteria. The problem is that an overgrowth of bacteria causes many problems, like fat malabsorption. Also, carbohydrates are prohibited from being absorbed. This leads to them rotting in the intestines, which leads to a whole slew of other problems. The undigested carbohydrates cause abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
If that’s not enough, SIBO causes food allergies and sensitivities as well as nutrient deficiencies and poorly functioning digestive enzymes. All this becomes a vicious cycle and it can go on undetected for many years. But why? Well, most who suffer from digestive problems are most commonly diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. Only lately have doctors begun to realize the connection between the small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and IBS. Still, many doctors often don’t consider bacterial overgrowth with in the small intestine being the problem.
Causes of SIBO
An overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine could be caused by numerous factors:
*Reduction of motility within the small intestine
*Gastric Bypass Surgery
*Small Intestinal Diverticula
*Prolonged use of antibiotics, steroids, antacids, and birth control pills
*Diet lacking in fiber
*Low Stomach Acid or hypochlorhydria
Additionally, there exist other factors that could cause SIBO, but the ones listed above are the most common.
Can Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Cause IBS? SIBO and IBS
There have been different studies conducted in learning more about SIBO and IBS. One such study occurred at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California. The study included 202 people suffering with IBS. Of the entire group of 202 participants, those who tested positive for SIBO were 157! After being treated for their condition by eliminating the excess bacteria in the small intestine, 48% of the 157 sufferers noticed an improvement regarding their IBS symptoms. So, is there a link between SIBO and IBS it still remains to be determined, although it is believed that the two can coexist.
How to Diagnose SIBO
The small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is tested using a lactulose breath hydrogen test. If someone has SIBO, they will produce high levels of either hydrogen gas or methane. The breath test is considered to be the best way to diagnose SIBO.
How to Treat SIBO
Today, most people understand that the use of antibiotics can correct one problem while creating another one. In general, antibiotics affect bacteria. Antibiotics actually kill bacteria, including the good bacteria that’s necessary to keep everything in balance and keep you healthy. So, if taking antibiotics to treat SIBO, ensure you also take a probiotic simultaneously.
That said, the antibiotics can control the overgrowth of bacteria, but it won’t cure it altogether. Instead, once you stop taking antibiotics, the symptoms of SIBO and IBS will likely return.
However, there are alternative therapies, including acupuncture among others, to help ease the symptoms and improve your condition.