Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, aka SIBO, is a common cause of digestive symptoms; gas, bloating, constipation/diarrhea, reflux and abdominal pain. It is also a common cause of IBS. This case reviews how you can become symptom free after treating SIBO. Also, and possibly more important, is that we do not always need to reach a “true negative” on the breath test to be symptom free and feeling great.
If you need help with diagnosis or treatment of SIBO, click here
Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hey, everyone. I am here with Christine, who has had some really good results with treating SIBO, and I asked her if she would take a moment to chit-chat with us, so, Christine, thank you for your willingness to do that.
The concept that I think was most noteworthy about your case was your SIBO levels have improved quite a bit from our initial testing, but you’re still not in the normal range, but we’ve seen… we got you down, down, down, down, down, and you kind of plateaued at this positive level, so you’re still positive, but that seems to be as low as we can get the values after trying numerous different treatments and numerous rounds of treatments. But you’re doing great!
DR: Reinforcing this concept of, at least what I’m thinking, anyway, is not everyone may need to be in the normal range for SIBO in order to feel really good. So can you share a little bit about what you’ve noticed in your experience through the whole process?
C: Well, I noticed, you know, the dramatic change was really quick for me when I started treating SIBO, because I went from being almost bedridden at times to being absolutely fine within a month. I felt absolutely fine throughout the treatment. And that’s pretty dramatic to me, that it can happen so quickly.
DR: You improved very quickly. Not everyone is so lucky. You very quickly (got better).
Now, you also have lost quite a bit of weight, haven’t you? About 40 pounds over that time?
DR: You’ve been able to tolerate FODMAP foods without much of a fuss.
DR: I think your diet, in general, is quite a bit more broad than what it was before, correct?
C: Oh, yeah. I’m definitely going back up again as far as being able to reintroduce foods. I’m looking forward now to going back and introducing all the VIP foods that I’ve been off of now.
DR: You recently noticed that some starches really didn’t go well with you, so that’s one thing you noticed didn’t (make you feel very good).
C: Yeah, I don’t think starches are going to work for me! I’m pretty sure of that. Pretty bad reaction to starches.
DR: So you can do FODMAPs, but you can’t do starches.
DR: What are some of the most notable symptoms that I noticed improve as we got this kind of under wraps?
C: One of the things that was really affecting my life the most was my chemical sensitivity was being very severe, to the point where I couldn’t go to Hobby Lobby, I couldn’t be in large crowds of people, I couldn’t be around air freshener at someone’s house, so I was very limited. I couldn’t do a lot of social things that I could before.
C: Because I would immediately get sick from chemicals, and that was gone after three weeks of treatment. That was absolutely gone, and that was really thrilling to me because I was suffering with that for years.
DR: Yeah, I can see that being very annoying.
C: Yeah. And I had just constant headaches. I mean, I always had a headache. It wasn’t a matter of did I have a headache; it was just how severe was the headache that day. And so many days, the headache was so severe I couldn’t leave the house. That was probably my worst symptom, was the neurological pain in my eyes and head that was very severe.
DR: And how were your digestive symptoms? Were they pretty bad before (your treatment)?
C: Yeah, they were pretty severe. I mean, I had a lot of bloating. That was the worst part of it. I mean, it would go from… in the morning I’d be fine, and by nighttime I felt like I was pregnant. I would be so swollen from the bloating, and that was really the worst part. Constipation was my whole problem my whole life, very constipated.
DR: So just the far-reaching impact of the gut, like we were talking about earlier.
DR: So you responded really well to the initial treatment, and we did notice with you that you would fairly quickly kind of relapse.
DR: And so we’ve done some things and we’re doing some things that prevent the relapses. And again, the concept that I really want for people to take away is if our goal, if we’re defining success as getting your labs to normal, you would be failing right now.
DR: But I’m not necessarily defining success like that. I’m defining success as are we seeing, yes, objective lab improvements, but maybe more importantly, are we seeing the clinical picture, the person, the patient, feeling better, and I think overall you’re… I don’t think you really have much in the way of symptoms left, right?
C: No, I really feel very normal. Actually I feel better now than I did as a teenager. I honestly do.
DR: Ooo, that’s nice!
C: I have, like, never felt this good. I really feel this has been affecting my whole life, so to me it’s like a whole new life for me because I can really do things I wasn’t doing before ever!
DR: Right. That’s the whole point.
DR: And, yes, your labs are a little bit positive, but they’re better than before and you’re feeling great, so we’ll just monitor and keep doing what we’re doing, and I think we’ve got a good strategy here. So for people watching, maybe that’s something for people to take away because, again, if we had framed this differently, you may not be as happy. You may be feeling, “Oh, I have this chronic thing that I can’t get rid of.”
DR: I don’t necessarily think we have to do that. So in any case, thank you so much for sharing. Anything you want to leave people with before we close?
C: Well, I just think, don’t wait. If you feel that you have SIBO symptoms, don’t wait to get tested and treated because, my goodness… I mean it’s so dramatic and so amazing, what can happen with treatment if you have SIBO.
DR: As you were saying that, it reminded me that you had done a good program, but it was kind of like one of those online, do-it-yourself gut-repair programs.
DR: And that worked for you, but you weren’t able to maintain the results.
C: Exactly. I couldn’t stop the relapse myself. I didn’t know what to do to stop the relapse.
DR: Right. And so that’s where… if those sorts of do-it-yourself approaches don’t work, maybe it’s a good idea to bring in someone to help you with this, and once we’ve figured out what’s going on underneath the surface, we could prevent relapses and maybe have a plan going forward.
C: Yeah, the best move I made was starting up with you and really getting someone who knows how to stop the SIBO relapse from going on, and I’m so happy I did because I wouldn’t be here doing the things I’m doing now if it weren’t for that.
DR: And you were an easy one, so I was happy!
C: That’s good! I’m glad I was easy! That’s good!
DR: I mean, you made me work for it a little bit, but we got there, right?
C: Yes, very.
DR: Cool. Well, again, thank you so much. And for people listening, hopefully this helps you guys. OK, thanks.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
If you need help with diagnosis or treatment of SIBO, click here
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