If you find something where it isn’t supposed to be, you take it from where it shouldn’t be and put it where it should. Right? For example, if you found a sharp knife in a child’s toy box, you’d take it out of the toy box and put it where it belongs. Right?
This can happen with microbes in your gut. Yes, really.
(FYI – This is the third in a series of Removing What’s Bugging You. You can find the prior posts here: Got Gut Issues? The 5R’s Can Help, Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 1, Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 2.)
Sometimes the microbes in your microbiome, microbes that should be in your large intestine, move to your small intestine. Those sneaky little suckers. Some of them can actually swim upstream and move from your large to your small intestine.
Once they reach the small intestine, the party begins!
Remember the small intestine is where the final part of digestion happens and absorption of the food molecules occurs. If microbes end up in the small intestine, they start digesting the food they find there, rather than waiting until the leftover food gets into the large intestine.
Why is this a problem? Because after these guys digest the food, one of the things they produce is gas. This means that you end up with gas in your small intestine. And, you feel it. You’ll feel gas and bloating along with, potentially, all the other GI symptoms we’ve talked about – constipation, diarrhea, maybe heartburn, acid reflux, and nausea. And, other symptoms as well.
Again, these symptoms are non-specific. Which can be confusing when trying to figure out what is causing your problems.
This issue, microbes in the small intestine, is called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO – pronounced See-Bō).
How do you know if you have SIBO? The best way is through a hydrogen breath test. You eat a restricted diet for a day, fast for 24 hours, drink a special drink, then blow into some tubes it given intervals for a period of time.
If it turns out you do have SIBO, you can work with your doctor to formulate a plan to address the issue and get those bad guys out of your small intestine. Some dietary interventions may help, too.
You can also start figuring out if SIBO may be an issue by logging your food, drinks, symptoms, etc. This will help you narrow down if it could be SIBO. Symptoms from SIBO appear within a couple of hours of eating when symptoms from other parts of your body happen at other times – earlier sooner or later after eating.