SIBO – Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth – What, why, how!

SIBO – Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth – What, why, how!


Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is defined as the presence of excessive bacteria in the small intestine and is frequently implicated in chronic diarrhea and malabsorption issues but not exclusively and we will explore this more later.

While we are meant to have microflora present within our small intestine that quantity is relatively small compared to other areas such as the large intestine and colon and complications happen when bacteria growth is excessive.

Within the small intestine we see the continued breakdown of our food allowing nutrients to be absorbed within the blood stream. However, when SIBO is present this absorption is altered and we start to develop deficiencies – especially iron and other fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and D, as the bacterium actually consume and feed off these nutrients.

This process leads to bloating, gas and pain due to changes in our bodies ability to digest, breakdown and ferment within this space.


Symptoms often mimic those of IBS which makes diagnosis a little bit harder as they are frequently confused, however can influence one another. We will discuss testing for SIBO and IBS in our next blog post.

Common symptoms of SIBO include:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Malnutrition
  • Weight loss
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Rashes
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Rosacea

Causes of SIBO

The list of underlying causes of SIBO are numerous and can include aging, chronic pancreatitis, diabetes, diverticulitis and structure defects. Along with the use of certain medications which can disrupt the digestive microbiome – including antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors. Celiac disease can also play a large role due to its ability to disrupt gut motility. Stress: chronic stress can decrease stomach acid output (hypochlorhydria). Normal stomach acid levels are required to kill bacteria

Related conditions – long term effects?

If SIBO is left untreated it can have serious long term complications

Bacteria overgrowth in the small intestine can lead to malnutrition, one of the biggest concerns with SIBO. Essential nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats aren’t properly absorbed, causing deficiencies, including iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, calcium deficiency and deficiencies in the fat-soluble vitamins — vitamin A deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, vitamin E deficiency and vitamin K deficiency.

These deficiencies can lead to symptoms, including weakness, fatigue, confusion and damage to the central nervous symptom as well as long term damage of the stomach lining.




If you are needing some extra help with your digestive system – Book an appointment for tailor treatment to suit your symptoms.


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