top of page

Is it IBS or SIBO?


Decades of bloating, stomachaches, pain and constipation led me to search for answers and find out what was really happening inside my gut.


In my twenties I remember the cleanse the night before to prep for barium x-rays. Afterwards I was given the typical diagnosis of IBS. This is assigned when the Doctors really have no answers, it refers to a collection of bowel symptoms.


In my thirties I remember having a sigmoidoscopy and they didn't sedate me. It was truly awful! Afterwards I had the worst gas pains. No new answers.


After a hysterectomy from a prolapse and endometriosis glued to my rectum, not only did my bladder freak out, but ... my old friend my stomach acted up again.


Can you relate to the stomach life? Not fun. I can tell story after story being out with family or friends having to find a bathroom. The good news in my search I found out I had a true casein allergy. When I stopped having cheese, my symptoms improved for awhile, because there were more chapters in my gut story to come.


How do you know if you have IBS or SIBO? And, what is SIBO exactly?


What are the most common symptoms of SIBO?

  • Bloating (1-3 hours after eating

  • Food intolerances from carb foods, vegetables (usually higher fodmap ones, sometimes all)

  • Diarrhea or constipation

  • Stinky gas. (Can smell like rotten eggs)


In functional medicine school I learned SIBO is the good guys feasting in the wrong place. Bacteria that made its way into the small intestine that was supposed to be hanging out in the large intestine.


The best advice I can give you is ...stop guessing and test. You can order your own 3 hour lactulose breath tests online from Life Extension or Mymedlab. You'll want help reading the results and finding the best protocol for you. There are 3 kinds of SIBO, so treatment varies.


Another option is to go to a GI specialist for testing. I did this in March of 2018 an it didn't really work out for me and I ended up having to do my own research to rid my SIBO. The standard medicine given is an antibiotic that targets the small intestine called Rifaxim also know as Xifaxan. It wasn't enough for me. It does prove effective for some.


It's also important to understand how your SIBO came to be. Is it a lifestyle issue like poor stress management? For some it can start after food poisoning, a trauma, a dysfunction of the ileocecal valve. This is the muscle situated at the junction of the ileum of your small intestine and the colon the first part of your large intestine. It's what allows food materials to pass from the small intestine into the large intestine.


SIBO can be related to digestive dysfunction. Some people think they have SIBO because GI symptoms are very similar and later learn it's a parasite or Candida, or all three.