What to Know About Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth Test

Updated on May 26, 2021

What is SIBO?

Health is primary for all humans; therefore it is usually and should be taken very seriously by all. Incidentally, humans have also developed the capability to treat and manage most health challenges that people might encounter. 

Efficient healthcare today is such that it is not only about curative measures but it is also about the ability to prevent these health challenges from occurring or to detect these health conditions on time. For this reason, tests of different types are sometimes run on an individual to properly determine what health challenge an individual might be undergoing for proper treatment measures to be taken. One such test is the small intestine bacterial overgrowth test.

What Is A Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth?

This is a condition that occurs when an individual’s small intestine develop too much bacterial growth. It has to be noted that the intestines generally contain some amount of bacteria however, the overgrowth of the small intestine’s bacterial content results in diarrhea, bloating and pain. It occurs mostly among females, people with digestive conditions and the elderly. You can read more on it here.

What Are Its Symptoms?

The symptoms might vary in severity among different individuals depending on their general health status. Generally, it is important to note that SIBO affects the guts directly and causes great digestive discomfort. However, the following are some of the symptoms of this condition:

  • Bloating of the tummy
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Constipation 

It is important to note that these symptoms could also be signs of a different ailment totally. However, if you are experiencing any two or more of these conditions for a while then you have to go for tests to ascertain what the health challenge may be.

What Causes Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth?

Complications from Surgery On The Abdomen

An individual might have to undergo surgery for various reasons. However, complications might arise because of the surgery that can result in SIBO for the patient. Examples of such surgeries include; gastric surgery done to handle ulcers or for obesity.

Structural Challenges In Your Small Intestine

This can happen in your small intestine or around it. An example would be an intestinal adhesion also called a scar tissue that gets wrapped around the outside part of the small bowel. Another would be a case of intestinal diverticulosis.

Other Medical Conditions

These include; radiation enteritis, scleroderma, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease. What these health conditions all have in common is that they all can slow the stomach’s (and by implication the small intestines) digestion and the distillation process (separation of the needed body nutrients and wastes).

What Are the Consequences Of SIBO Being Left Untreated

  1. Poor Absorption of Needed Body Nutrients: If left unchecked, the excess bacteria will break down the bile salt that aids the digestion of fats in the body resulting in the inability to properly digest fats and this would lead to diarrhea. Also, if it harms the mucous lining, the body’s absorption rate of proteins and carbohydrates will be poor. 
  2. Vitamin Deficiency: This will definitely result in a vitamin efficiency in the body since there is no proper absorption of fats in the body. This will also result in general body weakness, numbness, fatigue and even in some cases, a confused mental state.
  3. A Condition Called Osteoporosis: This is a state wherein an individual has weakened bones. This occurrence would be as a result of the body’s lack of calcium absorption because of the unattended bacterial overgrowth.
  4. Kidney Stones: This can also occur where there is poor calcium consumption in the body.

Available Tests for SIBO

There is a fear in recent times that SIBO is often being misdiagnosed and that the condition is more common than previously perceived to be. This has led to the development of various tests for proper detection of the condition and possible treatment. Thus people experiencing any of the above listed symptoms, and have gotten the right treatments that should handle the initially assessed condition to no avail are advised to have a SIBO Test for more clarity. 

There are three different types of SIBO test and they are:

  • Breath Testing
  • Jejunal Aspiration
  • Medication Trial

Breath Testing

Test for IBS/SIBO and digestive tract problems

This is a non-invasive test that measures the hydrogen and methane content in a person’s breath. This procedure works because, while carbohydrate produces methane when broken down in the body bacteria produces hydrogen and all mix together in the blood stream and leave the body through breath. The result of this test tells the doctor if the person has this condition or not and the severity of the condition.

Jejunal Testing

This testing procedure is quite invasive, however, it is considered to be more accurate than breath test. It is basically an upper endoscopy procedure or EGD for short which involves the collection of a sample fluid from your small intestine’s mid-section. This sample when taken gets examined (cultured) to check for the presence of bacteria.

Medication Trial

The third and most common way of testing for the presence of SIBO is by SIBO trial medication. The process is simple in that the SIBO medication is given and if there a sharp relief from the present symptoms in the body, it becomes an affirmation of the presence of bacteria in the small intestine.

Does SIBO Have A Cure?

There is no definite cure for this condition however, antibiotics along with other medications are usually prescribed by doctors for the patients who would in most cases recover. However, all conditions are not the same and you would have to defer to the authority of your doctor when going for treatments or checkups. The basic advice is to always consult your doctor on time whenever you are not in good health so that tests and the appropriate medications can be prescribed for you.


There are various health challenges that can affect an individual. However, if they are detected on time and are properly treated, the individual will get better and eventually recover but if left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, will fester and the individual will deteriorate.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is one such condition that can occur in this manner. This is why there are available tests that can be used to confirm this condition so as to effectively treat it.

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