SIBO - Causes

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What causes SIBO?

The small intestine is a relatively clean place. The stomach receives food, mixes it with acid and digestive juices and turns it into a clean slurry that is pushed through the three parts of small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum) where the nutrients are absorbed into the body. The refuse is dumped into the large intestine, or colon, where water is absorbed and the feces become more solid and are eliminated from the body.

The normal bacteria (flora) of the gut, perform important functions, helping to digest certain vitamins like folic acid and vitamin K, and they protect the intestine from being invaded by disease causing bacteria. However, if the normal function of the intestine is compromised, bacterial overgrowth may occur. This may be the result of a lack of adequate stomach acid, damage to the intestine by toxins like alcohol, or a decrease in the speed at which the small intestine transfers material to the colon.

The colon is not as clean as the small intestine and reflux, or backflow, of stool into the small intestine can colonize it with harmful bacteria.

Return to SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)

See what others are saying

Comment from: AnnieThesia, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: March 30

I have short-segment Barrett's disease as per upper endoscopy. Thus, in my case, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) may be directly linked to long-term use of Prilosec, a proton pump inhibitor that prevents secretion of the gastric acids needed to absorb certain nutrients (from meat, for example). However, I had a B-12 deficiency before I started taking Prilosec (pretty rare unless you're a vegan or have parasites), but the medication is certainly an additional aggravating factor. I take B-12 shots each month. A hydrogen breath test clinched the diagnosis. I can't remember the upper reference range for normal limits (12?) but mine was 367. People don't normally put out that much hydrogen, and unless you're a cow, you don't normally excrete methane. Anyway, I'd say that medications played a large part in my SIBO; the rest is related to pre-existing conditions (i.e., irritable bowel syndrome, etc.)

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Comment from: megella, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 05

My case of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) was caused (this time) by clindamycin. I have had SIBO now 4 times. I have never been treated with antibiotics to cure it and I have been cured, unfortunately my gut balance is easily thrown off when having to take an antibiotic for other health reasons. Please all of you who suffer from this debilitating health issue consider researching the specific carbohydrate diet. The first time I had SIBO it lasted for 8 months. I followed this diet very strictly and finally it paid off. Each consecutive time I have had SIBO it was caused by an antibiotic and I immediately went on the diet and probiotics supplements. Within 2 weeks I have been cured. I continue probiotics daily as I believe they are necessary for my gut health.

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