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What Is SIBO? Could It Be The Cause Of Your IBS

Have you ever experienced digestive discomfort, bloating, or abdominal pain that just won't go away, despite numerous doctor visits? If so, you might be dealing with a condition known as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO. SIBO occurs when an excessive amount of bacteria colonize the small intestine, leading to a range of uncomfortable symptoms. However, navigating the journey to an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment can be challenging, especially given the conventional medical approach that often mislabels SIBO as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Understanding SIBO: A Closer Look

SIBO is a condition where an abnormal amount of bacteria, typically found in the large intestine, migrate and flourish in the small intestine. These bacteria ferment carbohydrates from the food you eat, producing gases like methane and hydrogen as byproducts. These gases can lead to bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, and other digestive discomforts. SIBO can be triggered by various factors that disrupt the delicate balance of gut bacteria and bacterial growth in a small intestines where it doesn't below. Common causes include impaired gut motility, caused by low stomach acid, overeating, and eating too often, which slows down the movement of food and allows bacteria to accumulate in the small intestine. Additionally, conditions like anatomical abnormalities and certain medications (especially antibiotics) can contribute to SIBO development by altering the environment in which gut bacteria thrive.

The Conventional Misstep: IBS Misdiagnosis

Unfortunately, SIBO often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed as IBS due to overlapping symptoms. Many conventionally trained doctors label patients with IBS without investigating the underlying cause. While IBS symptoms can be similar to those of SIBO, treating IBS without addressing the underlying SIBO can lead to incomplete relief and frustration for patients. Often conventionally trained doctors will order scopes which is standard practice. Unfortunately this type of testing tells the practitioner nothing about potential bacterial infections that are often at the root of their symptoms.

Functional Medicine Approach to SIBO: A Paradigm Shift

Functional medicine takes a more holistic approach to any GI testing, offering testing such as fecal and blood testing and in the case of suspected SIBO a breathalyzer (hydrogen and methane) test that can give a more complete picture of gut imbalances beyond just polyps that scopes detect. Instead of merely treating symptoms, functional medicine practitioners aim to identify the factors contributing to SIBO and provide targeted solutions. The key differentiator lies in the comprehensive testing and individualized care plans designed to address the unique needs of each patient.

Tailored Treatment: Addressing the Root Cause

Functional medicine practitioners understand that SIBO isn't a one-size-fits-all condition. They work closely with patients to identify potential triggers such as low stomach acid, slow gut motility, food intolerences or structural abnormalities that contribute to SIBO development. By addressing the root cause, functional medicine aims to restore gut health and rebalance the bacterial ecosystem.

Individualized Nutrition Plans: Finding Food Harmony

Food plays a crucial role in managing SIBO. Functional medicine practitioners create individualized nutrition plans that emphasize low-FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diets to minimize food sources that feed bacteria. Gradually reintroducing specific foods and monitoring symptoms helps patients identify trigger foods and achieve digestive relief.

Probiotics and Gut Support: Reestablishing Balance

Balancing gut bacteria is integral to SIBO treatment. While probiotics can be beneficial for many, functional medicine practitioners carefully select strains that won't exacerbate SIBO symptoms. Incorporating prebiotics and digestive enzymes may also be recommended to support gut health and improve digestion.

Lifestyle Modifications: The Whole-Person Approach

Stress, sleep, and lifestyle factors can impact gut health and exacerbate SIBO symptoms. Functional medicine takes a holistic approach, addressing these areas to support the body's healing process. Stress-reduction techniques, sleep optimization, and mindful movement can all contribute to a comprehensive treatment plan.

The conventional mislabeling of SIBO as IBS highlights the critical need for a functional medicine approach that prioritizes accurate testing, personalized treatment, and addressing underlying causes. By embracing functional medicine principles, individuals can find relief from the discomfort of SIBO and regain their digestive health. Consulting with a skilled functional medicine practitioner who specializes in gut health can offer a path to true healing, empowering you to take charge of your well-being and find lasting relief from SIBO symptoms.

Areas Served

Dr. Pedro Gonzalez, MD is based in Chicago/Illinois, and serves patients throughout Illinois, Florida and Texas. These areas include but are not limited to Chicago Loop, Lincoln Park, Near North Side, River North, West Town, Streeterville, Lake View, Logan Square, Little Village, Bridgeport, Oak Park, Oakbrook, Harwood Heights, Arlington Heights, Bucktown, Old Town, Maywood, Lincoln Square, Edgewater, Evanston, Cook County, Lake County.

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