Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition that occurs when bacteria colonize the upper intestinal tract (small intestine). Many people are familiar with the idea of “good” intestinal bacteria, or probiotics, and how they can help with digestive symptoms. But most are unaware that bacteria of any kind should only exist in the large intestine (aka colon). The small intestine, which is where food goes immediately after your stomach empties, is supposed to be a predominantly bacteria-free zone. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many people suffering from SIBO, and probiotics will not help these patients feel better.

What are the symptoms of SIBO?

  • Moderate to severe bloating, especially after meals
  • Uncomfortable fullness after eating
  • Low appetite
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive belching or passing gas
  • Constipation or diarrhea (depending on which types of bacteria are present)
  • Malnutrition/weight loss

It can be difficult to differentiate these symptoms from other gastrointestinal illnesses like gastric reflux, IBS, Celiac disease, or multiple food allergies. Additionally, many patients actually have a combination of one or more of these diseases. This is because the underlying imbalances that create one intestinal disease usually set the body up for developing more and more intestinal diseases over time. At Thrive GI, we strive to identify and treat the underlying cause of intestinal dysfunction. Testing and treating for SIBO is often at the top of that list.

Dr. Katie Nuckolls is a naturopathic physician and owner of Thrive GI: Natural Digestive Medicine in Vancouver, Washington. She currently sees patients that live in Washington, Oregon, and Arizona using telemedicine. For more information, visit our contact page or schedule a free 15-minute consultation online.  

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