Could IBS really just be SIBO?


SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and is a condition thought to afflict more than 50% of those that suffer with IBS. It’s also a condition that is near and dear to me because I suffered from it, for way too long I might add! I’m writing about it in more detail so that I can help others realize that they should investigate this issue further to truly get a handle on their IBS related symptoms. This could be the underlying issue leading to unanswered questions as they relate to the vagueness that often is an IBS diagnosis.



There are several reasons why someone might go on to develop SIBO and its not my intention to dig into that for this post. I want to bring awareness to the symptoms and drive the desire to get tested. You need to stop ignoring symptoms or just accepting an IBS diagnosis. 


Constipation, bloating, diarrhea, loose stools, alternating constipation/diarrhea and incomplete evacuation are many of the IBS symptoms, but they are also the symptoms for SIBO.


Do you suffer from any of the above symptoms on a regular basis? If so, have you chased these symptom(s) with medications/supplements or received a diagnoses of IBS from your Dr.? If you answered yes to any of the above then my next question is: Have you been tested for SIBO? This is a test that requires you to drink a liquid and then for the following 2-3 hours breathe into a tube every 15-20 minutes (this may have been performed in the doctors office or at home). This is currently the only non-invasive way to be tested for this condition. If a colonoscopy or endoscopy was performed these methods would not be able to detect SIBO.


If you haven’t had this test yet, then you need to seek out a SIBO breathe test ASAP. The results to this test can guide treatment options and diet changes that can have a drastic impact on your IBS related symptoms, irregardless of the supplements or prescription medications you may currently be on or ones you may have tried in the past. Knowing if bacterial overgrowth is present is half the battle, the other important component is knowing which kind of gas (methane or hydrogen) you are producing. This will allow for appropriate supplementation/medication recommendations.


What to look for when seeking a SIBO test. There are 2 different SIBO tests, one that uses glucose as the testing substrate and one that uses lactulose as the substrate. Doing both can offer the most conclusive information, however, you can often start with lactulose and follow-up with glucose if it’s negative. Starting with glucose is also an option and then a follow-up with lactulose would be warranted if negative.


Some Gastroenterologists will offer this testing in office or they can easily write you an order for the test. If you get resistance or would like to take matters into your own hands there are reputable labs that offer direct to consumer testing. 


Moving past these GI related symptoms is possible and there are answers out there. Be your own health advocate and get the answers you deserve.