Ever feel like your stomach is filled with so much air you just may pop? How about anxiety when it comes to planning your travel routine, work routine, life routine around whether there is a bathroom close by or else? And then there is the complete opposite where days go by before you actually have a bowel movement and even when you finally do there is still a feeling of fullness.
These are GI issues that frequently get worked up with colonoscopies, endoscopies and then the blanketed diagnosis is made “irritable bowel syndrome” which seems like it is a diagnosis of a symptom more than the root cause.
You know when you have a colonoscopy or an endoscopy the cameras are only looking at a fraction of your GI tract. Your small intestine is overlooked when you have a colonoscopy or endoscopy. This is really important to understand because the small intestine is usually where the action can be found that is causing the gas, bloating, loose stool, constipation and more.. The small intestine has a massive amount of surface area which makes up the size of a tennis court!! What lives in the small intestine is critical to your health. BACTERIA!!
There are more bacteria in your intestine than you could ever imagine. If the bacteria are not balanced or if there are more bad bacteria than good ones you may have found an answer as to why you have stomach issues. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (A.K.A. “SIBO”) is an issue that affects so many people and causes a significant amount of GI issues. Believe it or not, but SIBO can also cause skin rashes, brain fog, fatigue, depression and many more symptoms that could be remedied with the right treatment targeting the actual cause rather than the multitude of symptoms.
People at risk for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth include those who have been on antibiotics, taken non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Advil or Motrin, use reflux medications, take steroids, have diabetes, and much much more. There is a huge list of things that can change a healthy bacteria balance to an unfavorable one and when that happens you may experience symptoms.
There is no one size fits all to managing a bacterial imbalance or SIBO, but most patients can start with a good quality probiotic. The probiotic should have lactobacillus and bifidobacterium for starters. A decent quality probiotic will cost around $30 - $40. Pay more and someone is probably ripping you off and pay less and you may not be getting decent quality. Try taking the probiotic with food and give yourself a solid month before determining whether or not you have experienced a benefit.
Clearly food is also extremely important in considering GI issues and a great place to start is to rid yourself of dairy. There are plenty of people who unknowingly are inflamed from having dairy. Simply adding a probiotic and removing all dairy can result in the resolution of symptoms.
More likely than not though there will be many additional changes to make to unwind and repair GI problems. One of our providers and dietitians could probably help you figure out underlying issues and get you and your stomach back on track.