Your muscles hurt. You have episodic joint pains. You have anxiety and insomnia. You are tired all day long. You have not had a normal bowel movement in years. You had (or suspect) Lyme disease and think that you now have a chronic version of it or one of its co-infections. You feel better on antibiotics, but don't want to live your life always on them. You are convinced that you have destroyed your gut and most foods you eat seem to make you feel worse. You stop eating gluten and dairy and feel better, but good health still is out of your reach.
At this time, you need to step back and blow into a tube. Take a look at the table below and notice how Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome (SIBO) may be an underlying culprit. SIBO is easily tested through a breath test you can do in the convince of your own home. It is a conventional diagnosis, that often does not get diagnosed.
SIBO is a condition where bacteria that normally live in your large intestines take up residence in the small intestines. The metabolic byproducts of SIBO activity change bowel movements lead to diarrhea and/or constipation. SIBO may also causes pain locally in the intestines and throughout the body’s muscles and joints. I have also seen it be a driving force behind lower back pains, inguinal pains, migraines, and as a major contributing factor towards menstrual issues; often causing poor liver conjugation of hormones leading to PMS, PCOS and fibroids. SIBO is a root cause behind intestinal dysbiosis and enables chronic Candidiasis to occur and be treatment resistant. Patients requiring long-term antibiotics are more susceptible to Clostridium difficile infections if they start off already with a SIBO issue. SIBO is the primary cause behind reoccurring Helicobacter pylori infections (stomach ulcers), halitosis (bad breath), gall stones/ sludge and chronic yeast infections (Candidiasis).
SIBO sufferers often sense that their diets are causing a lot of their troubles, but pinpointing all the sensitivities is very difficult, seems to change without reason, or is inconsistent. Gluten and dairy are exceptionally good at feeding SIBO bacteria hence many people who do not have an allergies to either food, feel better avoiding them. This is likely the reason behind the explosion of people choosing to eat gluten-free and those that benefit from diets that limit exposure to dairy and grains (e.g. Paleo, Atkins, GAPS, bone-broth diets, etc.).
SIBO is not a single, but a grouping of various large intestinal bacteria species including E. coli and Klebsiella. These gut bacteria are not normally exposed to carbohydrates and sugars which are plentiful in the small intestines. Sugars and carbohydrates act like a fertilizer and make SIBO very active. Not only do they continue growing, they also displace your normal small intestinal flora. SIBO also releases a number of chemicals and gasses that normally are not found in the small intestines and include hydrogen gas, methane gas and ammonia. Unlike the large intestine, the small intestines normally have a small number of bacteria and if they become overgrown, these organisms will use up the nutrients that would otherwise be absorbed into the body. A person with SIBO may become malnourished as a result and often feel better after a short round of Myers nutritional IVs and regular usage of a quality multivitamin.
SIBO is commonly treated through dietary changes, specific antibiotics, botanicals and the Elemental Diet. Test results from a hydrogen/methane breath test after a lactulose challenge allow the best treatment or blend of treatments to be chosen. Your doctor must also look for causes behind the SIBO and address these so the SIBO does not return.
If you think you have persistent Lyme disease or other tick-borne illness, have been on rounds of antibiotics, suffered from either diarrhea and/or constipation, are bloated, gassy, suffer from unexplained skin rashes, hormonal imbalances or multiple food sensitivities you should check out your SIBO status. This is a time you should definitely listen to your "gut instinct".