Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the tube that goes from your mouth to your anus. The GI tract includes your esophagus (food pipe), stomach, and small and large intestines. Your intestines are where food is absorbed. Good bacteria live in your intestines. You need the right amount of these good bacteria.
Bacterial overgrowth is when the good bacteria in the small intestines grow too much. The extra bacteria keep you from absorbing all the nutrients in your food. Not absorbing nutrients is called malabsorption.
The extra bacteria in your intestines keep you from digesting food properly
The bacteria also use up nutrients in your food that you need for your health
Some people have no symptoms, but others have diarrhea, lose weight, or feel gassy and bloated
Doctors may do a breath test, test samples of fluid from your small intestine, or do x-rays of your GI tract
Doctors treat bacterial overgrowth syndrome with antibiotics and may suggest changes in your diet
Bacterial overgrowth syndrome is mainly caused by:
The most common cause of a slow-down is:
Certain types of surgery on your intestines and complications of surgery also can cause bacterial overgrowth.
Some people have few symptoms or only weight loss.
Common symptoms are:
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause:
Low blood count (anemia)
Tingling of hands and feet
Doctors diagnose bacterial overgrowth syndrome based on your symptoms and if you have conditions that favor overgrowth of bacteria in your colon. They may also:
Look down your stomach and intestines with a flexible viewing scope (endoscopy)
Measure certain chemicals in your breath
Take x-rays of your stomach after you swallow a liquid contrast agent
Treatments can include:
Most people get better after taking antibiotics for 10 to 14 days.
Doctors may suggest you eat a diet that's higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates and fiber to slow down the bacteria's regrowth.