SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth is a serious condition in which too much bacteria grow in the small intestine. Normally these bacteria will grow in the gastrointestinal tract including the large intestine but if an overgrowth takes place they overflow into the small intestine, which usually doesn’t have a lot of bacteria. A person suffering from SIBO will normally experience bloating, diarrhea or constipation, stomach pain and discomfort when the bacteria grows out of control. Even more of a problem becomes nutrient absorption, which can lead to malnutrition as the bacteria starts to use up the body’s nutrients.
Bacterial overgrowth can greatly affect the normal process of digestion and absorption of food and ultimately damage the membranes and small linings of the small intestine. For example the overgrowth of bacteria can metabolize salts to insoluble, which may lead to fat malabsorption or bile acid diarrhea. The bacterial overgrowth produces gases and other by-products that result in many different symptoms. Unfortunately, this disease is still poorly understood and oftentimes misdiagnosed or overlooked. Initially, it was thought to only appear in a small number of patients but with better accessibility to testing we now know that is incorrect. Patients can be mildly affected by SIBO, not even notice they have it or have extreme symptoms that ultimately affect their quality of life.