Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

Having a Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a serious medical condition that may affect your digestive system. There are a number of symptoms that can occur, and it is important to know what to do in order to treat them.


Symptoms of small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) can vary widely. Some patients experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation. Some suffer from a lack of vitamin B12, which can lead to anemia.

Fortunately, there are a number of diagnostic tests that can be used to diagnose SIBO. If you think you may have the condition, make an appointment with your physician. Your healthcare provider will discuss your symptoms and prescribe one or more tests.

A breath test can help detect the presence of gas-producing bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. This is the most common diagnostic test.

The results of a breath test may be positive, false, or negative. If the test results are negative, it can be due to a number of reasons, such as yeast overgrowth, a small bowel adhesion, or a bowel obstruction. A doctor can confirm the diagnosis with a stool test, which can detect excess fats, bile acids, and bacteria.

There are also imaging tests that can be used to check for structural defects in the intestines. If bacterial overgrowth is suspected, an elemental diet, or liquid diet that contains pre-digested formulas, may be prescribed. This is only given for a short period of time. This diet will provide all the nutrients that the body needs.

The most common antibiotic for SIBO is Xifaxan, which works directly on the small intestine. It is also often used as a prokinetic agent to prevent the recurrence of the infection.

When you have SIBO, your digestive system will not absorb certain nutrients, such as calcium. This can lead to osteoporosis and kidney stones. This condition is treatable, but you must first take antibiotics to kill off the bacteria that are causing the overgrowth.


Identifying the underlying cause of SIBO is the key to effective treatment. If the underlying problem is structural, it may require surgery. But if it is not, it can be treated with a simple, short-term diet.

Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth is caused by an imbalance in the microbial community in the small intestine. This may be due to anatomical changes, alterations in the gut’s normal bacterial balance, or disturbances in the small bowel’s motility.

The most effective treatment for small intestinal bacteria overgrowth is to provide targeted antibiotic therapy. This can be achieved through either culture or aspirate. It may also be necessary to modify certain medications or to adjust alcohol or vitamin supplementation.

In addition to the use of antibiotics, dietary changes can help diagnose and treat gastrointestinal distress. A short-term elimination diet restricts all carbohydrates and starves bacteria. This approach can induce remission of SIBO.

The human microbiome is in its infancy. However, understanding of this important microbial component of the body is rapidly progressing. In addition to its role in immune system function, microbiome species also play a key role in bone health and thyroid function. Increasing knowledge of this microbiome will enable more effective treatment of SIBO.

The microbiome is a complex network of chemical and mechanical functions that maintains the balance of the gut flora. The body uses gastric acid to control the small intestine’s bacterial population. If there is not enough acid, the small intestine is not able to digest food properly and bacteria overgrow.

Predisposing factors for SIBO include anatomical disturbances, such as diverticulosis or adhesions, as well as metabolic disorders, including diabetes, obesity, and chronic pancreatitis. Other risk factors include opioids, gastric bypass, and proton pump inhibitors.


Having small intestinal bacteria overgrowth is an occurrence in some individuals. There are several causes of SIBO. Some of these include irritability, stomach flu, and a weakened contraction of the small intestine. These conditions are often treated by treating the underlying problem. Other times, medications or a modified long-term diet plan may be recommended.

A doctor can diagnose SIBO with a physical examination and a series of tests. The doctor will ask about your symptoms, and if you have any unusual abdominal symptoms, they can order a stool test or a breath test. They will also order blood tests and possibly a fecal test.

A microbiologic test of intestinal contents is the gold standard for the diagnosis of bacterial overgrowth syndrome. However, it is expensive and has limitations. It is not suitable for detecting difficult-to-grow bacterial strains, and it cannot detect the middle and distal portions of the small intestine.

An endoscopic administration of glucose, instead of oral ingestion, may be helpful for the detection of distal SIBO. This test requires validation with combined scintigraphy.

Another common test for SIBO is a lactulose breath test. The test measures the presence of hydrogen, a gas produced by anaerobic bacterial fermentation in the colon. The test can be performed at home or in a doctor’s office. You will need to fast for 24 hours before the test.

Some people with SIBO are prone to diarrhea. In addition, some people develop a form of colitis, which is an inflamed colon lining. This can be a severe complication.

In some cases, a low-carb diet can be effective at treating SIBO. This diet helps to prevent the overgrowth of bacteria.

In addition, taking probiotics can help to balance harmful bacteria. This treatment option is not proven in large clinical trials but may be useful in some cases.

Foods to avoid

Having too many bacteria in your small intestine can lead to several problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, or bloating. This condition is often referred to as SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). This can be a problem that may not be recognized by your healthcare provider.

If you think you have SIBO, you may need to see a gastroenterologist. They can test for this condition and recommend a treatment plan. They may also suggest nutritional support to help with your symptoms. You may need to change your diet and avoid certain foods and drinks to reduce your symptoms.

In some cases, a low-carb diet may be effective at reducing SIBO symptoms. However, studies on this topic are inconclusive.

It is not a good idea to avoid carbohydrates altogether, because bacteria preferentially metabolize carbohydrates. In addition, you should consider limiting your intake of fermentable carbohydrates, such as sugar, soluble fiber, and resistant starch. Taking in too much of these foods can fuel the growth of your small intestine bacteria.

In some cases, you may not have enough bacteria in your small intestine to digest dairy products. This means you should avoid lactose-containing products, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy-based food products. You should also use lactase preparations, which are products that are designed to break down lactose.

Having too many bacteria in your small bowel can lead to digestive issues, and may even be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. Symptoms of a large bacterial population in your small intestine include abdominal pain, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation.

A lactulose breath test may be used to confirm the diagnosis. This test measures the amount of methane in your breath after you drink a glucose-based drink. It is not as specific as other tests for bacterial overgrowth, but it is widely available.

Predisposing factors

Identifying the predisposing factors for small intestinal bacteria overgrowth of SIBO will help clinicians determine the right approach to treatment. The goal is to provide targeted antibiotic therapy. In addition to providing effective antibiotics, healthcare providers will also work with patients to address the underlying cause of the overgrowth.

Some of the factors that increase the risk of developing bacterial overgrowth include dysmotility, obesity, diverticula, gastric bypass, pancreatitis, and opioids. These conditions affect the motility of the small intestine, which can result in overgrowth.

The gastrointestinal (GI) system is a complex network of biochemical and mechanical functions that maintain the balance of the gut flora. The flora in the large intestine is richer in bacteria than in the small intestine. However, the small intestine is not as rich in bacterial species as the colon.

A recent study has found that small intestinal dysmotility was associated with a higher risk of developing SIBO. It was also found that patients with IBS were more likely to have dysmotility.

The microbial flora of the small intestine is primarily Gram-positive. The bacterial population in the small intestine is typically less than 100,000 organisms per milliliter.

The most common method to diagnose bacterial overgrowth is the hydrogen breath test. This test involves using a specific substrate, such as lactulose, that interacts with the bacteria in the small intestine. The result is a hydrogen peak that is produced in the duodenal area. The second hydrogen peak is produced in the colonic area, which is caused by bacterial fermentation. This process can be monitored with timed interval measures of exhaled breaths.

In addition to using breath tests, doctors may prescribe medications that speed up the motility of the gut. Alternatively, they may prescribe nutritional support or supplementation.

Health Sources:

Health A to Z. (n.d.).

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.).

Directory Health Topics. (n.d.).

Health A-Z. (2022, April 26). Verywell Health.

Harvard Health. (2015, November 17). Health A to Z.

Health Conditions A-Z Sitemap. (n.d.).

Susan Silverman

Susan Silverman

Susan Silverman is a Healthy Home Remedies Writer for Home Remedy Lifestyle! With over 10 years of experience, I've helped countless people find natural solutions to their health problems. At Home Remedy Lifestyle, we believe that knowledge is power. I am dedicated to providing our readers with trustworthy, evidence-based information about home remedies and natural medical treatments. I love finding creative ways to live a healthy and holistic lifestyle on a budget! It is my hope to empower our readers to take control of their health!

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