Dr. Starpoli's Blog

Could Bacterial Overgrowth Be The Cause Of Your IBS?

Posted by Rachel Jones on Apr 14, 2014 11:30:00 AM

There is still a lot of mystery about what are the causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). However, there is more evidence that there is a dietary link, at least in some cases. Celiac sufferers will find that connection believable because of the way their disease symptoms tend to lessen on low-gluten diets. But, why does diet have such a large impact for diseases like IBS that are chronic and embarrassing? The key may be in understanding the role small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) plays in a variety of related illnesses that can end up contributing to the appearance of IBS.


How the Small Intestine Can Become Unbalanced

The small intestine has different bacteria than the larger intestine; however, it can become unbalanced when it is under stress. The gastrointestinal tract needs to contain different bacteria in each section and they need to contain that bacteria at healthy levels. When the bacteria in the small intestine starts to include the type that eat sugars and carbohydrates, like what is normally seen in the larger intestine, then something is wrong with the distribution of bacteria in the gut. In addition, if the growth of bacteria in the small intestine should expand rapidly, you will have an overgrowth that generates symptoms like gas, bloating, pain, and that can even lead to IBS.  In situations where you are also someone sensitive to gluten, like celiac sufferers, you may find that the disease doesn’t respond well to a gluten-free diet. In that case, bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine should also be investigated, if it could be part of the problem, before it leads to IBS.

How do you know if SIBO is contributing to your IBS?

Fortunately, SIBO can be easily diagnosed with a hydrogen breath test. You will be asked to drink some sugar solutions before breathing out. The test takes several hours to complete. Should you end up being diagnosed with SIBO; that may be good news for IBS sufferers. It’s not the whole answer for all people who have IBS, but for those that find out that they do have SIBO, it can offer a way to diagnose the underlying cause of a complicated disease and get started on a treatment program. You might be asked to take a course of antibiotics and given additional suggestions on how to change your diet to get back to a healthier you.

IBS, SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, bloating, Celiac disease