Disease: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

    Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) facts

    • Small intestine bacterial overgrowth is often associated with other underlying illnesses.
    • Symptoms involving the intestine are non-specific in the early stages and include indigestion, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating.
    • As the disease progresses, the inability of the body to absorb nutrients from the intestine may lead to malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies that may help direct testing to find the diagnosis.
    • The diagnosis is often one of exclusion, making certain that other malabsorption syndromes also are not present.
    • Blood tests, breath tests, and biopsies or tissue samples from the small intestine may be required to make the diagnosis.
    • Antibiotics may be prescribed but the type and length of treatment depends upon the patient and the symptoms.
    • Any underlying illness will also need to be addressed at the same time once therapy is started for SIBO.
    • The prognosis depends upon how well the associated illnesses are managed. Relapse is fairly common.

    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.

    Who is at risk for SIBO?

    Small intestine bowel overgrowth is often associated with another illness that affects the function of the small intestine. The body has many protective mechanisms to keep bacteria under control, including stomach acidity and intestinal mobility, the ability for the intestine to move its contents downstream at an appropriate speed. Bacterial growth is hindered by the presence of bile and immunoglobulins. Finally, the ileocecal valve prevents stool from refluxing from the colon (large intestine) into the ileum or the last part of the small intestine.

    Any illness or disease that affects the body's defense mechanism puts a person at risk for SIBO, but the majority of people develop SIBO because of an intestinal motility problem. These may include complications from gastric bypass surgery, bowel strictures and adhesions that can lead to intermittent bowel obstructions, diverticuli or outpouchings of the small intestine, and tumors. Bowel motility may be affected by neurologic diseases including myotonic dystrophy and Parkinson's disease. People with diabetes with autonomic dysfunction (nerve damage) may also develop dysmotility.

    Other intestinal diseases that may be associated with SIBO include:

    • Diverticulitis
    • Crohn's disease
    • Celiac disease
    • Achlorhydria (chronic inflammation causes the stomach to become unable to produce acid)
    • Cirrhosis of the liver
    • Alcohol abuse
    • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

    Scleroderma, leukemia and lymphoma may also increase the risk of developing small intestine bacterial overgrowth.

    What are the signs and symptoms of SIBO?

    There are no specific complaints or physical findings that can make the diagnosis of SIBO. Instead, small intestine bacterial overgrowth should be considered in the presence of a compilation of many non-specific symptoms; each by themselves would not be worrisome but together can point to the potential diagnosis.

    Initial symptoms are specific to the gastrointestinal tract and abdomen and include:

    • abdominal pain,
    • bloating,
    • indigestion,
    • diarrhea, and
    • excess gas or flatulence.

    A person with SIBO does not need to have all of these symptoms.

    As the disease progresses, the bacterial overgrowth inhibits the body's ability to properly absorb nutrients from the diet. This can lead to vitamin and electrolyte abnormalities, protein deficiencies, and difficulties with fat absorption.

    Inability to absorb vitamin B12 can lead to symptoms of pernicious anemia, including a low red blood cell count and peripheral neuropathy. Anemia also may be due to iron deficiency. Decreased Vitamin A may lead to night blindness. Metabolic bone disease may be due to Vitamin D deficiency and decreased calcium. This may also lead to muscle twitching and spasms.

    Malnutrition may result in weight loss, as well as excessive muscle wasting (cachexia). Inability to absorb fats in the diet may lead to steatorrhea (excess fat in the feces) that results in foul smelling oily stool, and may cause some anal leakage or fecal incontinence.

    How is the diagnosis of SIBO made?

    The initial symptoms of small intestine bacterial overgrowth are non-specific and it may take time for the person and health care professional to consider SIBO as a potential cause. The clues may come from illnesses associated with malabsorption of proteins, fats and vitamins and it is important to look for those causes, as well as the potential for SIBO.

    Blood tests may be ordered looking for different causes of anemia, electrolyte imbalance, and vitamin deficiencies.

    Breath tests may be considered to measure the byproducts of digestion, especially those that are dependent upon bacteria in the intestine. These include tests for hydrogen breath test, bile acid and D-xylose. Interpreting the test results may help make the diagnosis of SIBO without having to perform an endoscopy or biopsy.

    Upper GI endoscopy allows a gastroenterologist to look at the inside of the upper part of the small intestine and take biopsies or small bits of tissue that can be examined under the microscope. Samples of the fluid from the duodenum and jejunum can be analyzed looking for abnormalities that are associated with SIBO.

    While these diagnostics tests are being performed, it is appropriate for the health care professional to look for conditions that are associated with SIBO. If such a condition is already known, then maximizing treatment of the associated condition may be undertaken at the same time the diagnosis of SIBO is being considered and tested for.

    What is the treatment for SIBO?

    The treatment for SIBO includes controlling and treating any underlying associated illness. The goal is to control the symptoms of small intestine bacterial overgrowth since it may not be possible to "cure" the disease.

    Antibiotics are one of the treatments that are helpful in controlling the excess bacteria. It is important that not all the bacteria in the intestine are eradicated, since some are required to help with normal digestion.

    Amoxillin-clavulanate (Augmentin) and rifamaxin (Xifaxan) are the two common first line antibiotics that may be prescribed. Depending upon the situation, other antibiotics may also be considered, including clindamycin, metronidazole (Flagyl), floxins (ciprofloxacin [Cipro, Cipro XR, Proquin XR], levofloxacin [Levaquin]) and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra).

    While a single course of antibiotics for 1-2 weeks may be sufficient, however, since SIBO has a tendency to relapse, repeated courses of antibiotics may be required. In some people, the antibiotics will be routinely cycled, meaning that they will alternate a 1-2 weeks on the antibiotic with 1-2 weeks off.

    In addition, underlying vitamin and nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption should be treated.

    Who is at risk for SIBO?

    Small intestine bowel overgrowth is often associated with another illness that affects the function of the small intestine. The body has many protective mechanisms to keep bacteria under control, including stomach acidity and intestinal mobility, the ability for the intestine to move its contents downstream at an appropriate speed. Bacterial growth is hindered by the presence of bile and immunoglobulins. Finally, the ileocecal valve prevents stool from refluxing from the colon (large intestine) into the ileum or the last part of the small intestine.

    Any illness or disease that affects the body's defense mechanism puts a person at risk for SIBO, but the majority of people develop SIBO because of an intestinal motility problem. These may include complications from gastric bypass surgery, bowel strictures and adhesions that can lead to intermittent bowel obstructions, diverticuli or outpouchings of the small intestine, and tumors. Bowel motility may be affected by neurologic diseases including myotonic dystrophy and Parkinson's disease. People with diabetes with autonomic dysfunction (nerve damage) may also develop dysmotility.

    Other intestinal diseases that may be associated with SIBO include:

    • Diverticulitis
    • Crohn's disease
    • Celiac disease
    • Achlorhydria (chronic inflammation causes the stomach to become unable to produce acid)
    • Cirrhosis of the liver
    • Alcohol abuse
    • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

    Scleroderma, leukemia and lymphoma may also increase the risk of developing small intestine bacterial overgrowth.

    What are the signs and symptoms of SIBO?

    There are no specific complaints or physical findings that can make the diagnosis of SIBO. Instead, small intestine bacterial overgrowth should be considered in the presence of a compilation of many non-specific symptoms; each by themselves would not be worrisome but together can point to the potential diagnosis.

    Initial symptoms are specific to the gastrointestinal tract and abdomen and include:

    • abdominal pain,
    • bloating,
    • indigestion,
    • diarrhea, and
    • excess gas or flatulence.

    A person with SIBO does not need to have all of these symptoms.

    As the disease progresses, the bacterial overgrowth inhibits the body's ability to properly absorb nutrients from the diet. This can lead to vitamin and electrolyte abnormalities, protein deficiencies, and difficulties with fat absorption.

    Inability to absorb vitamin B12 can lead to symptoms of pernicious anemia, including a low red blood cell count and peripheral neuropathy. Anemia also may be due to iron deficiency. Decreased Vitamin A may lead to night blindness. Metabolic bone disease may be due to Vitamin D deficiency and decreased calcium. This may also lead to muscle twitching and spasms.

    Malnutrition may result in weight loss, as well as excessive muscle wasting (cachexia). Inability to absorb fats in the diet may lead to steatorrhea (excess fat in the feces) that results in foul smelling oily stool, and may cause some anal leakage or fecal incontinence.

    How is the diagnosis of SIBO made?

    The initial symptoms of small intestine bacterial overgrowth are non-specific and it may take time for the person and health care professional to consider SIBO as a potential cause. The clues may come from illnesses associated with malabsorption of proteins, fats and vitamins and it is important to look for those causes, as well as the potential for SIBO.

    Blood tests may be ordered looking for different causes of anemia, electrolyte imbalance, and vitamin deficiencies.

    Breath tests may be considered to measure the byproducts of digestion, especially those that are dependent upon bacteria in the intestine. These include tests for hydrogen breath test, bile acid and D-xylose. Interpreting the test results may help make the diagnosis of SIBO without having to perform an endoscopy or biopsy.

    Upper GI endoscopy allows a gastroenterologist to look at the inside of the upper part of the small intestine and take biopsies or small bits of tissue that can be examined under the microscope. Samples of the fluid from the duodenum and jejunum can be analyzed looking for abnormalities that are associated with SIBO.

    While these diagnostics tests are being performed, it is appropriate for the health care professional to look for conditions that are associated with SIBO. If such a condition is already known, then maximizing treatment of the associated condition may be undertaken at the same time the diagnosis of SIBO is being considered and tested for.

    What is the treatment for SIBO?

    The treatment for SIBO includes controlling and treating any underlying associated illness. The goal is to control the symptoms of small intestine bacterial overgrowth since it may not be possible to "cure" the disease.

    Antibiotics are one of the treatments that are helpful in controlling the excess bacteria. It is important that not all the bacteria in the intestine are eradicated, since some are required to help with normal digestion.

    Amoxillin-clavulanate (Augmentin) and rifamaxin (Xifaxan) are the two common first line antibiotics that may be prescribed. Depending upon the situation, other antibiotics may also be considered, including clindamycin, metronidazole (Flagyl), floxins (ciprofloxacin [Cipro, Cipro XR, Proquin XR], levofloxacin [Levaquin]) and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra).

    While a single course of antibiotics for 1-2 weeks may be sufficient, however, since SIBO has a tendency to relapse, repeated courses of antibiotics may be required. In some people, the antibiotics will be routinely cycled, meaning that they will alternate a 1-2 weeks on the antibiotic with 1-2 weeks off.

    In addition, underlying vitamin and nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption should be treated.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

    The treatment for SIBO includes controlling and treating any underlying associated illness. The goal is to control the symptoms of small intestine bacterial overgrowth since it may not be possible to "cure" the disease.

    Antibiotics are one of the treatments that are helpful in controlling the excess bacteria. It is important that not all the bacteria in the intestine are eradicated, since some are required to help with normal digestion.

    Amoxillin-clavulanate (Augmentin) and rifamaxin (Xifaxan) are the two common first line antibiotics that may be prescribed. Depending upon the situation, other antibiotics may also be considered, including clindamycin, metronidazole (Flagyl), floxins (ciprofloxacin [Cipro, Cipro XR, Proquin XR], levofloxacin [Levaquin]) and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra).

    While a single course of antibiotics for 1-2 weeks may be sufficient, however, since SIBO has a tendency to relapse, repeated courses of antibiotics may be required. In some people, the antibiotics will be routinely cycled, meaning that they will alternate a 1-2 weeks on the antibiotic with 1-2 weeks off.

    In addition, underlying vitamin and nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption should be treated.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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