I found out I had SIBO after more than a year of stomach pain

I found out I had SIBO after more than a year of stomach pain

  • For more than a year I had stomach pains and other gastrointestinal problems.
  • I tried to reduce my stress levels, but this did not relieve my symptoms.
  • I went to a gastroenterologist and was diagnosed with SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

I’ve always had a sensitive stomach. I have known since childhood that eating fried food, lots of pasta and lots of dairy products can cause stomach pains that last for almost 24 hours. Then, two years ago, everything I ate made me feel nauseous and bloated.

I ignored my symptoms for over a year – until I also started experiencing diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue and loss of appetite. I convinced myself that stress was to blame, so I did what I could to reduce my stress levels; I meditated, added workouts to my schedule and tried to sleep more. But for the most part these things eased my symptoms a little.

Finally, after struggling to walk up the stairs of my house eight months ago, I decided to see a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases and disorders of the digestive system.

The gastroenterologist diagnosed SIBO, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine

As I sat in the doctor’s office, I realized how tired I was and how sick I felt on a daily basis. After the exam, the doctor sent me home with a stool culture kit to test for salmonella. She also provided breath test at home to measure fermented gases (hydrogen, methane and hydrogen sulphide) in my intestines.

A stool sample was negative for salmonella. But a breath test came back positive for SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, bacterial imbalance in the small intestine as a result of slowed movement in the intestine.

Although my gastroenterologist isn’t sure how my SIBO developed, she said stress could have caused a gut infection. Mayo Clinic reports that SIBO can also be the result of surgery or disease affecting the small intestine.

My first attempt at treating SIBO failed, but I kept at it

As soon as I was diagnosed with SIBO, I was desperate to get rid of it. I saw a nutritionist who recommended that I treat SIBO with antibiotics and expensive powder called The Doctor’s Elementary Dietwhich involved drinking a mixture of powder and water every 45 minutes for two weeks as my only form of nutrition.

When I got home and started the diet, I struggled to pass the mixture without cramping. At one point I was very sick and had a raging headache. I watched YouTube videos of people who went through this diet to try to convince me to fight for the soldiers, but eventually I gave up. I knew getting rid of SIBO would be challenging, but I wasn’t willing to make myself feel even sicker than I already did.

I called a gastroenterologist who suggested treating my temporary SIBO low FODMAP diet. FODMAP (which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) is an acronym for a certain type of carbohydrate that can be particularly difficult to digest. I turned it on low FODMAP foods like eggs, meat, almond milk, oats, rice, zucchini and oranges in my meals and avoided wheat, lactose, legumes, apples, avocados and sweeteners like honey and corn syrup.

My symptoms have eased. After four weeks of this strict diet, I reintroduced one food at a time for three weeks to try to determine which foods might be causing the symptoms. AND study published in October linked a low-FODMAP diet to a reduction in the severity of symptoms in people with gastrointestinal conditions, including SIBO. This is because the diet reduces the intake of carbohydrates that can ferment in the gut and encourage bacterial overgrowth.

I have learned that large amounts of soft cheeses and gluten cause stomach discomfort, so I refrain from them.

Now I know how to keep my symptoms at bay

Five months after finishing the low-FODMAP diet and reintroducing foods, I felt like a new person. I wasn’t tired, my mood improved, and my stomach pain was minimal.

But over the past month, as I attended holiday gatherings and relaxed my SIBO-friendly dietI started to feel discomfort in my stomach and sometimes I had to force myself to eat.

Although it is frustrating, I have made an appointment with my gastroenterologist and plan to do another breath test. If I am diagnosed with SIBO again, I know that a low FODMAP diet along with meditation and hiking can ease my symptoms and reduce stress.

#SIBO #year #stomach #pain

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