Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO): Everything You Need to Know About It

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
August 31, 2021

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth is more likely to affect women, older persons, and those who have other digestive problems, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

 What Is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)?

This condition develops when there is an irregular increase in the general bacterial growth in the small intestine, especially bacteria that are not typically found in the small intestine. This disease is also known as blind loop syndrome sometimes.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of SIBO often include:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Malnutrition
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • An uncomfortable feeling of fullness after eating

What Causes SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)?

SIBO mainly occurs when:

  • anatomic abnormalities happen in your small bowel
  • changes in the PH levels arise in your small bowel
  • your immune system is malfunctioning
  • the small intestine loses the ability to effectively remove the food and bacteria due to the malfunction of its muscular activity

 Risk Factors Associated with SIBO

At times, people with particular medical conditions are more prone to develop SIBO.  For example, doctors consider the following conditions can accompany SIBO as a complication:

  • IBS
  • HIV
  • cirrhosis
  • Celiac Disease
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Hypothyroidism Scleroderma
  • Fibromyalgia

Apart from these, other risk factors that can cause SIBO to include:

  • older age
  • being female
  • Previous bowel surgery
  • drinking alcohol
  • having recently finished a course of antibiotics
  • long-term use of medications that lessen stomach acid production


If you do not have any anatomical problem but still have SIBO, a simple way to control your symptoms is to avoid sugary foods and drinks. Other diet changes that are recommended for SIBO are:

  • Quit foods that trigger your symptoms
  • Avoid liquid medications and fiber supplements that contain sugar or alcohol as an ingredient
  • Avoid lactose
  • Follow a low-FODMAP diet; FODMAP is a type of carbohydrate
  • Try an elemental diet that involves unique nutritional formulas
  • Consume prebiotics and probiotics after asking your doctor’s opinion

 How to Treat SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)?

Usually, the treatment of SIBO is determined using a breath test. If you have a lot of hydrogen in your breath sample, you will be prescribed the antibiotic rifaximin (Xifaxin). On the other hand, if your sample showed higher methane levels, you’ll probably take rifaximin and the antibiotic neomycin (Mycifradin) together. You might need to take these antibiotics for the duration prescribed by your doctor.

If you are looking for expert SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) treatment, the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine can help you. You can call us at 843-572-1600 or fix an appointment today with our expert doctors.

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