Belching, Burping and Bloating? Maybe it's SIBO

If you find that you are belching, burping, bloating after eating or feel like you have a ball stuck in your throat that’s so painful you can’t swallow, you may have SIBO.  

What’s SIBO? This is the acronym that doctors use for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. While it’s perfectly normal to have bacteria in our small intestine, we sometimes get excessive amounts of bacteria in the small intestine, which ferment food and cause excessive gas and bloating. 

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Abnormal bacteria in the small intestine interfere with our normal digestion and the absorption of food, producing excessive amounts of gas, belching, flatulence and cramping.

In mild cases of SIBO, you may only experience bloating after meals. In moderate cases you may develop constipation, diarrhea or the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In severe cases, people with SIBO may have malabsorbption and become anemic, develop chronic diarrhea, and experience unintentional weight loss.

SIBO Symptoms

Abdominal pain

Gas/belching

Bloating

Acid reflux

Nausea

Change in bowel movements; either diarrhea, constipation or both

Feeling like you have a baseball in your throat when swallowing food

Skin rashes or eczema

What Causes SIBO?

Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine has several causes. One cause is low stomach acid. Besides helping digest food, stomach acid acts as a disinfectant and can prevent harmful bacteria from making themselves at home in your gut. Unfortunately millions of Americans are placing themselves at risk for getting SIBO by taking antacids, and acid blocking drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Prilosec, Omeprazole, and Nexium. While you may get relief from your heartburn, the side effect is an altered mircroboime that wreaks havoc with your digestive process.

Other people develop SIBO because they have slow transit time in the GI tract and/or reduced enzyme production.  As a result their food does not digest quickly enough, and it sits in the small intestine, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to feed and ferment on the undigested food.

Environmental factors also play a role in the rise in SIBO. Consuming meats that have antibiotic residues, and washing our hands with antibiotic soaps alters the terrain of our guts and also promotes overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

Can Foods Make SIBO Worse?

Diet can aggravate SIBO. Bacteria feast on certain foods and produce excessive amounts of methane or hydrogen gas that are the hallmark of SIBO. Among the common offending foods are sugars, artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, grains, beans, high fructose fruits, and vegetables that contain high amounts of fructose.

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Some people may try eating better to reduce bloating after meals and the symptoms of SIBO only to find that it seems to make things worse. The gas, cramping and bloating may increase with a change in diet because some of the “healthier foods” such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, apples, blueberries, and bananas contain high amounts of fructose. (See list of ‘Foods Fermented by Small Intestine Bacteria’ above). 

How Do You Know if You Have SIBO?

SIBO can be diagnosed by several different methods. The most accurate method, but very costly, is to have a doctor perform an endoscopy that measures the amount of bacteria found in the fluid in the small intestine. Easier methods include a breath test that measures hydrogen and methane gases that are produced by fermentation. Breath tests however can be expensive, often show false negatives for SIBO and are inaccurate for diagnosing SIBO more than half the time.  Organic acid testing is another tool that can be used as well. In my clinical practice, I find the most practical and comprehensive way to determine if a patient has SIBO is using a specialized 24-Hour Urine Analysis, in combination with a Fasting and a Postprandial Exam (after eating). This method not only diagnoses SIBO accurately it also identifies most of the underlying causes of SIBO.

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Treatment of SIBO

The traditional medical approach to SIBO is to use antibiotics to wipe out bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.  My patients have found that this has limited results. Usually the patient’s symptoms rapidly improve in a few days, but their symptoms return with a vengeance in a month or two and may become worse. So the physician places them on antibiotics again, only to have the symptoms return again.  The problem with this approach is that the antibiotics destroy both the bad bacteria and the good bacteria in the microbiome. This creates a sterile resistant medium for harmful bacteria and yeast to grow that even probiotics cannot solve. 

About 60% of the people who have SIBO will also have fungal overgrowth at the same time. This is called SIFO – Small Intestine Fungal Overgrowth. Essentially SIFO is Candida or Candiasis, combined with SIBO.  The traditional medicine approach is kind of like going to war on the bacteria with an unabridged scorched earth attack. You may win the initial short-term battle only to become embroiled in a long and lasting war that devastates the host.

Lasting Treatment for SIBO- Make Love Not War

In practice, I focus on making love, not war. What do I mean by this? We work with the body’s own defense mechanism, diet, and bacterial balance to restore harmony to the gut. 

Our focus is on stimulating the immune system to fight the harmful bacteria, reducing intake of fermentable foods, and restoring the ‘good’ or friendly bacteria. In the process, we employ specific probiotics that have been proven to restore the balance between good and harmful bacteria, and sometimes we may use specific herbs to reduce overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Over time, patients are able to restore their intestinal health with lasting improvement.  Read about Melinda’s Success Story

Don’t Let Yourself Go Untreated, Because SIBO can create havoc with your health. Complications from untreated SIBO are malabsorbption of nutrients, such as iron, B12, and crucial fat-soluble vitamins - like vitamin D and K - that prevent osteoporosis. 

If you’re suffering from belching, burping and bloating after meals, or have been diagnosed or think you have SIBO, get relief now before it progresses. Call Dr. Patrick’s Chico office today at 530-899-8741 to schedule a consultation to find out how you can feel better again. 

Related Links

Home Remedies for Burping (Belching) | Top 10 Home Remedies

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

SIBO - What is it?

Bloating after Eating

What is SIBO

Do you have SIBO?  Here’s all you need to know

Since 1999, Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, IHS has helped Chico, Redding, and Sacramento Valley residents by using a whole-body systems approach to health. He specializes in providing natural relief for food and environmental sensitivities, intolerances, digestive and digestive-related problems. For more information contact Dr. Patrick at 530-899-8741 or visit www.DigestionReliefCenter.com 

© 2017. Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC. All Rights Reserved.


Digestion Relief Center 

2639 Forest Avenue, Suite 120 Chico, CA 95928

530-899-8741


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