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SIBO Die-Off Symptoms

SIBO is not so fun – it can cause a range of annoying symptoms that can disrupt your well-being. But what happens when you try to treat SIBO? Does it cause any special symptoms you need to be aware of? Here we explore what SIBO die-off is, and how to manage SIBO die-off symptoms.

Key Takeaways

  • SIBO is a condition that occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. It can cause a range of symptoms, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
  • Treatment for SIBO typically involves antibiotics, but this can lead to a die-off reaction, which is a temporary increase in symptoms.
  • The die-off reaction is caused by the release of toxins from the dying bacteria. It typically lasts for a few days and then subsides.

What Is SIBO?

SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. This is a form of gut dysbiosis – occurring in the small – instead of the large, intestines. When SIBO occurs, it means you have too many harmful, pathogenic gut bacteria. They have grown to excess and now outnumber your beneficial bacteria. (Source)

While most of your gut microbiome is housed in your large intestines, you also need a healthy range of gut microbes in your small intestine to assist with healthy digestion. When an imbalance of gut bugs occurs you can be left with uncomfortable symptoms.

Symptoms of SIBO include:

  • Pain and discomfort in your tummy
  • Bloating or abdominal distention
  • Indigestion
  • Excess gas
  • Loose stools
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss (without trying)
  • Fatigue

We also know that over the longer term, having an unbalanced microbiome can have consequences for things such as your immunity,  mental health, and chronic disease risk, so it’s worth taking steps to rectify an issue such as SIBO as soon as possible. (Source)

What Causes SIBO?

happy and unhappy intestine

SIBO has a range of causes. Usually, your body is able to maintain a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria – therefore avoiding any harmful overgrowth. Sometimes though, something goes wrong with your digestive functioning, which can mean harmful bacteria get a chance to grow unchecked.

Your SIBO may be the result of:

  • Low stomach acid: Stomach acid is able to keep pathogenic bacteria in control as it’s strong enough to kill it off. So, when you have insufficient stomach acid production you can find that pathogenic bacteria sneak through into the small intestine where they can proliferate and cause havoc. Low stomach acid can result from the use of acid-lowering medication such as proton pump inhibitors. These are sometimes prescribed for upper GI tract conditions such as heartburn or gastritis, but unfortunately, the downside is that a reduction in stomach acid production can leave you vulnerable to gut dysbiosis such as SIBO. (Source)
  • Structural gut issues: If you’ve had gastric bypass, or suffer from diverticulitis, you might experience changes in the structure of your gut which can affect gastric emptying or might create more spaces for bad bacteria to grow and thrive.
  • H Pylori infection: This common infection can cause havoc in the gut – resulting in gut lining inflammation and bacteria imbalances. A course of antibiotics is usually required to treat this condition and reduce further damage. (Source)
  • Gut motility issues: If you have waste sitting for too long in the small intestine instead of passing to the large intestine, this can trigger an overgrowth of bad bacteria too. Conditions such as gastroparesis can trigger SIBO due to delayed intestinal emptying. (Source)
  • Antibiotic overuse: This can interfere with the general balance in your gut flora, as repeated courses of probiotics can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a depletion of beneficial, protective microbes.

What Is The Treatment For SIBO?

intestinal bacteria flora

If you’ve tested positive for SIBO (usually via a hydrogen or methane breath test), then you can begin appropriate treatment. This tends to involve the use of specific antibiotics that are designed to target the type of bacteria that has grown to excess.

This treatment aims to kill off the harmful bacteria, reduce any associated inflammation or malabsorption, and allow a healthier and more balanced gut environment to flourish instead.

Sometimes your healthcare practitioner may suggest you reduce your intake of sugary, high carbohydrate foods as these can ‘the pathogenic bacteria and may reduce the efficacy of any SIBO treatments.

Some nutritionists or herbalists suggest you combine your antibiotic treatment with a range of natural agents to offer a holistic approach.

Some people might try atrantil for SIBO, which is a natural 3-step process, involving the use of botanical agents to treat the pathogens. But this will need to be individualized to your situation.

Additionally,  if it’s the result of a gut motility issue you may be offered specific treatments, or you could be advised to reduce your intake of PPIs if they are the cause.

What Is The SIBO Die-Off Reaction?

When you embark on a SIBO treatment plan, whether through antibiotics alone or via a combination of methods, you are likely to experience something known as SIBO die-off symptoms. This is a good thing as it means you are finally tackling your SIBO and you will notice a reduction in SIBO symptoms once the die-off reaction has occurred. (Source)

But it does unfortunately mean that you’ll need to be patient whilst the die-off reaction occurs. The symptoms can result from something called the Herxheimer reaction – which is an inflammatory process resulting from the toxins released as the bacteria are killed. This is only a temporary process and shouldn’t last for more than a few days.

SIBO Die-Off Symptoms

When you start going through the die-off reaction, you’ll likely notice a temporary increase in your current SIBO symptoms. This can mean more bloating, gas, or loose stools. This is occurring due to the changes in the gut environment and the alteration in the microbiome. 

Once the pathogenic bacteria is reduced, you can end up with a significant reduction in these troublesome symptoms, so it’s definitely worth persevering with this stage.

For some people, there will be no other noticeable effects of the SIBO die-off phase. But for others, there may be more systemic effects that occur whilst the changes in bacterial levels take place.

Other SIBO die-off symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Mild fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog

You might also notice a distinctive SIBO die-off stool which might be larger or smellier than usual due to the high presence of pathogenic bacteria and their toxins.

How Long Does SIBO Last?

If you leave SIBO untreated, then it may last a lifetime. But if you start to complete a SIBO treatment protocol you can expect to see results within a week to ten days.

If you choose to only use a more natural treatment protocol without the use of an antibiotic such as rifaximin, it may take longer to see results (six weeks of such treatments may be needed alongside strict dietary changes).

But once the first few days after the die-off period have occurred, many people then experience a break from their annoying SIBO symptoms. Bear in mind that if you don’t address the underlying cause for your SIBO – such as gut motility issues, or overuse of acid-suppressing medications etc, there is a high chance of SIBO coming back to affect you in the future.

And it’s always worth taking steps to improve your gut environment – through improvements to your diet and an increase in both pre and probiotics where possible. Increasing your intake of natural prebiotics is a great idea as these work symbiotically with probiotics for maximum effect.

Prebiotics can be found in a range of plant-based foods such as onions, garlic, leeks, and oats. Do go slowly when starting to introduce some of these foods as they can be a little gas-producing and some people with IBS may struggle to digest them in large quantities. But in the long run, these prebiotic fibers are invaluable.

Similarly, slowly start to introduce more naturally fermented foods where possible too. This includes things such as kombucha, kimchi, and kefir, as well as miso, sourdough, and live yoghurt.

Just make sure that your fermented foods as unpasteurised, as heat treating these foods can destroy their beneficial bacteria  – ideally make them fresh at home for extra efficacy!

Try Synbio Tonik To Restore Your Gut Microbiome

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After your SIBO treatment period, it’s a good time to restore your microbiome to its healthiest possible state.

Remember that for your gut to thrive you need to have a good balance of both pre and probiotics.

This is because having sufficient prebiotics is essential to feed and fuel your probiotics. Luckily, products such as Synbio Tonik offer you both in one convenient place. Their gut health formula combines plenty of prebiotic fiber, alongside proven bacteria strains that are designed to treat symptoms of IBS and gut dysbiosis.

IBS and SIBO tend to go hand in hand – so this formula is ideal for anyone suffering from one of these common gut conditions.

Whilst many probiotic blends may claim to have a fairly high CFU number, lots only offer one or two probiotic strains. But, we know now that the more diverse your gut microbiome is, the more healthy it is too.

So, this is why Synbio Tonik probiotic powder stands out – it offers you 4 different strains, all with unique benefits. And it still maintains a pretty decent CFU count at 5 billion too.

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