Why I Decided to Test for SIBO
I’ve been actively trying to manage IBS for about 4 years, but I think that I’ve had it for a lot longer than that. It’s just that I used to think my symptoms were normal. It took a while before a doctor told me that I had IBS and suggested the low FODMAP diet. Since then, I’ve been managing my symptoms with a modified low FODMAP diet, whole foods, stress management, and exercise.
My symptoms have been manageable for most of the time since figuring out my triggers, but IBS has still been there, lurking beneath the surface, just waiting for a time (usually an inconvenient one) to make itself known "Hi, I’m here, it’s me IBS, your faithful friend, please don’t forget about me!"
Why I want to test for SIBO
The thing is I’m a little tired of IBS, I’m tired of having to watch what I eat and what I do. I’m tired of trying to prevent a flare up and I’m tired of trying to deal with a flare up when it does happen. I don’t think I really want to be friends with IBS anymore. So I decided to investigate my symptoms further.
I had heard about SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) over the years, I’d read articles like Emily’s here on this site and I thought that maybe it could be me, but nahh, I don’t think so, I have regular IBS. So I never really thought about taking the test or discussing it with one of my health professionals.
Until one day I was listening to a podcast and they were discussing SIBO, the symptoms and treatment, and it dawned on me that there was a test I could take within the next few weeks and if I did test positive there was a possibility that my symptoms could be resolved with treatment. So I decided to take the test!
The SIBO test
I live in Australia and I was able to order a lactulose breath test online. I had to consume a special diet the day before the test (just chicken, fish, rice, eggs, water and clear broth), then I had to fast for 12 hours overnight before the test. The next morning I had to drink a sample of lactulose and then over three hours I had to give 10 breath samples to complete the test. The idea is that if you have an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine they will feed off the sugar and produce different levels of methane or hydrogen depending on where the overgrowth is in the small intestine, which is then captured in the sample tubes. I posted the samples back to the testing facility and within a week I got the results. Positive for SIBO!
SIBO can be treated with targeted antibiotics or herbal antimicrobials and usually requires a special SIBO diet during and after treatment. The idea is to reduce or remove the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine which will then reduce or relieve me of my symptoms. I decided to go down the herbal path and found a natural health practitioner in my area. I also started on the SIBO Bi-phasic Diet prior to beginning treatment and I immediately saw a difference in my symptoms! It’s a combination of the low FODMAP diet and a low carbohydrate diet with portion control. I thought that I had been managing my symptoms pretty well but now I actually feel a lot better! My bloating was significantly reduced, my bowel movements were more regular and my abdominal pain was gone.
I’ve now been on the herbal treatment for a few weeks and I’ve experienced a few side effects of diarrhea and abdominal pain. This apparently often occurs due to the bacteria dying off but because I'm still sticking to the diet, the treatment side effects are lessening, and I’m feeling pretty good!
I’m really happy that I decided to take the test and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this treatment goes! I'll be sharing more about it soon. Have you had any experience with testing or treatment for SIBO, I'd love to know all about it?
Do you have a good understanding of what triggers your flares?