Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth
Any condition that affects how food moves through the intestines may increase the risk of SIBO. Examples include:
- Crohn disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Short bowel syndrome
- Intestinal stricture (narrowing in the small intestine)
- Digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or lactose intolerance
- Pancreas is not making enough of the enzymes needed to break down food
- Blind loop syndrome (when part of the intestine is bypassed)
- Intestinal infections, such as food poisoning or traveler’s diarrhea
- Chronic pancreatitis
- End-stage kidney or liver disease
Other risk factors include:
- Intestinal surgery
- An obstruction in the small intestine
- Weakened immune system
- Older age
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include
- Blood tests
- Breath tests—to look for certain gases after fasting and eating specific sugars
- Culture of intestinal fluid—a sample of fluid from the small bowel; tests will help to see what bacteria is present
The goal of treatment is to:
- Reduce the levels of harmful bacteria in the small bowel
- Treat any underlying conditions
Antibiotics are often used to treat SIBO. Usually treatment is temporary. Some may need to take antibiotics for a longer period.
Proper nutrients can help bring back the balance of bacteria. Steps that may help include:
- Work with a dietitian
- Follow a special diet, such as a carbohydrate-restricted diet
- Take vitamins and/or supplements
- Take probiotics
In some cases, tube feeding is needed with a special formula.
Surgery may be needed for severe SIBO. It may be needed to correct a problem in the small bowel.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (SIBO; Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth; SBBO)
American Gastroenterological Association http://www.gastro.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases https://www.niddk.nih.gov
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology https://www.cag-acg.org
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation http://www.cdhf.ca
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