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A Breakdown of SIBO & IBS

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Studies show that over 50% of the 45 million patients diagnosed with IBS in America are being misdiagnosed and actually have an underlying gut imbalance called SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.  


What is SIBO? 

SIBO is the accumulation of excessive gut bacteria in the small intestine.   Gut bacteria in our colon is both normal and necessary, but when this bacteria overgrows in the small intestine, it can lead to symptoms similar to IBS leading doctors to misdiagnose SIBO patients with IBS.

The bad news is that SIBO is currently under researched by scientists.  As the gut microbiome gains popularity in the medical and scientific community as an area of study, new information will continue to be released about SIBO and IBS in the future. 

The good news is that we do know that SIBO can be detected through the use of breath tests such as:

  • Lactulose breath test (LBT)
  • Glucose breath test (GBT)
  • Hydrogen breath test

All of these breath tests are designed to measure the hydrogen and methane being produced in the small intestine. Because humans don't naturally produce either of these gases, they are a great marker for detecting SIBO.  

If an adnominal range is detected by your doctor, this indicates that a bacteria overgrowth or SIBO may be present.

Does SIBO cause IBS? 

There is no research that has indicated IBS leads to SIBO or vic versa, though  SIBO is often misdiagnosed as IBS due to their similar symptoms which include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Excessive belching
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation

People with SIBO also commonly have other comorbidities like weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and osteoporosis.

What Should I Do If I have SIBO?

Typically, doctors will use an antibiotic to try to reduce the bacteria overgrowth in the gut, but that has not proven to be an effective method long term.

Many doctors and dietitians find that the low FODMAP diet has been just as effective in their SIBO patients as IBS.  The excessive bacteria in the gut is believed to ferment the sugars in high FODMAP foods and trigger symptoms.  By removing them through diet, they are able to help eliminate these symptoms through a safer and less expensive way than using antibiotics.   Because of this, the low FODMAP diet is the most common choice for children with IBS and SIBO symptoms. 

To learn more about the low FODMAP diet and for a free recipe and grocery list, check out the Gut Program.

AuthorAbout The Author: Drew is the founder of The Gut Program and a gut health expert. His work has been featured on The Gut Program,, Ask Men and The Gut BrainConnection Community. Learn more at his personal site.

Want to know the top 10 tips for starting the low FODMAP Diet and get a FREE recipe?

Even if you are new the low FODMAP diet or an expert, these tips will help you get started on the right foot! We will cover how to get started, how to read labels, the elimination phase and more. A FREE recipe and grocery guide are included!

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