Treating SIBO

I recently wrote about getting tested for SIBO – small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Although the breath test wasn’t difficult, it wasn’t my idea of fun, and I was pleased that the effort to do the test was rewarded with the positive results. Of course, being positive for SIBO means that too many bacteria were having a party in my guts, causing me a lot of intestinal distress, particularly gas, bloating and diarrhea.

My doctor prescribed a two-week course of an antibiotic called Xifaxan (rifaximin). Xifaxan doesn’t get absorbed through the intestinal wall, allowing it to kill off the bacteria in the gut. As my doctor predicted, my insurance initially declined covering the prescription. I am fortunate that my doctor was prepared for this and had the necessary documentation ready to prove I fit the requirements. In addition to the breath test results, that included my history of trying and not getting results from several other IBS treatments.

The Xifaxan itself was pretty uneventful. It’s a pill that must be taken three times daily, and it can be taken with or without food. In addition to being a treatment for SIBO, Xifaxan is approved by the FDA for traveller’s diarrhea. I found it ironic that one of the potential side effects of Xifaxan is diarrhea – how would you know if the drug was causing it or your original condition?

I have now finished my two-week course of Xifaxan. To say it’s been successful seems to minimize it. After nearly twenty years of dealing with daily IBS symptoms, all my symptoms are gone. My bowel movements are normal, my abdomen isn’t bloated or painful, and I don’t have any urgency to go to the bathroom. With the bloating gone, my clothes fit better, and I look like I’ve lost weight. Friends and family have commented that I seem healthy, radiant. But more than that, I’m so grateful to not be feeling sick. I feel like I’m actually going to be getting the benefit of the nutrients I eat now, rather than it all running through me.

SIBO can cause leaky-gut syndrome. A couple years ago, I recognized my symptoms in a description of leaky-gut, and I have been doing what I can to heal my gut through dietary changes and supplements, particularly probiotics. However, I hadn’t been able to make a difference in my IBS symptoms with dietary changes and supplements alone. It took the antibiotic to help me reboot the flora in my intestines.

Now, I find myself wondering how long it takes for leaky gut to heal after the SIBO is gone? Will I be able to again eat foods I’ve eliminated from my diet?

After assuming that my digestive issues were just “my normal,” I’m pleasantly surprised to have to rethink that idea, and I’m curious to see how this new-found healthy state of my digestive system will positively effect the rest of my health.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, Xifaxan won’t be the cure for everyone with IBS – this is my personal experience. Each individual should talk to their doctor about possible treatment options and whether Xifaxan is right for them.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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