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Your Healthy Family: Is your ongoing gas, bloating and stomach pain SIBO?

Posted at 2:12 PM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 17:20:49-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — It's a safe bet that over the holidays many of us experienced some indigestion or stomach discomfort with all the wonderful holiday food around. But, if you're having daily symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain or a change in your bowel pattern, you should talk to your doctor about it.

Katie Hachuela is a nurse practitioner with Gastroenterology Associates in Colorado Springs who says these uncomfortable symptoms may indicate you have a condition called SIBO.

“SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is exactly that. An overgrowth of bacteria that is living in the small intestine. That is where a lot of our digestion occurs and our absorption of nutrients from the food that we eat. If you have an overgrowth of bacteria in there they are going to start consuming your food before you can digest it. That will also ferment the carbohydrates that we eat leading to a lot of those unpleasant symptoms. Gas, bloating, some people feel nine months pregnant, it can cause abdominal pain and then you might notice a change in your bowel pattern. Some people might experience constipation or diarrhea or a mixed pattern."

Katie says those unpleasant symptoms associated with SIBO can also lead to other health challenges. “There is actually some research that shows that SIBO is a root cause for about 70% of people that experience IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. SIBO is also associated with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. I've personally seen people who treat their SIBO and their eczema, which is a skin disorder clears up significantly. So SIBO goes beyond gastrointestinal symptoms.”

Katie says diagnosing SIBO is a fairly simple process. “The testing is actually really easy, it's a breath test. We have the equipment to test for this condition here at GACS (Gastroenterology Associates of Colorado Springs). It's a breath test you take home you do in the comfort of your own home. The day prior to the testing you have to follow about a 12-hour diet. It's pretty restrictive where you limit the carbohydrates that will feed the bacteria. You do that for twelve hours and then there is a fasting period that you do overnight, where you're not consuming anything except water and then in the morning you do the breath test.”

If you are diagnosed with SIBO relief from the symptoms through treatment is a pretty straightforward approach says Katie. “The mainstay of treatment are antibiotics and depending on what exactly you test positive for, guides what antibiotics we use. We use antibiotics that really target the gut and don't have a more systemic side effect profile than traditional antibiotics. Traditional antibiotics can be used as well, it just depends on what you're diagnosed with.”

If you have any questions, follow up with your doctor or you can contact the folks at Gastroenterology Associates of Colorado Springs by visiting their website or calling them at 719-632-7101

In a future story, Katie will be discussing risk factors for SIBO and the lifestyle interventions that can help.

Gastroenterology Associates of Colorado Springs is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family