What You Need to Know About SIBO


Not all Singaporeans are concerned about their digestive health. We have to give importance to our digestive health if we want overall wellness. In this case, we have to know about Small Intestinal Bacterial Growth (SIBO). SIBO refers to a condition where there are large numbers of bacteria present in our small intestine. These types of bacteria should only be present in the colon.


Before discussing about SIBO, it is crucial that we understand the digestive system. The main function of the small intestine is to digest the food and absorb it into the body. The whole gastrointestinal tract (including the small intestine) typically contains bacteria. The bacteria are highest in the colon and lowest in the small intestine. If bacteria are highest in the small intestine, SIBO condition is imminent.

Here are some things that we need to know about SIBO:

  • Conditions associated with SIBO: There are many conditions associated with SIBO. SIBO can lead to diabetes mellitus can damage the nerves which regulates the intestinal muscles. It can also lead to scleroderma which can directly damage the intestinal muscles. If SIBO condition is present, the patient will suffer adhesions or scarring.
  • Symptoms of SIBO: The good thing is that there are many symptoms of SIBO. Symptoms include excess wind, abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, constipation and diarrhea. If SIBO is prolonged and gets severe, the bacteria will surely interfere the digestion and absorption of food. In return, there will be vitamin deficiencies.


  • How it is diagnosed: SIBO can be diagnosed thru culturing or growing of bacteria taken from the sample fluid from the small intestine. Another method is thru hydrogen breath test (HBT).  We have bacteria in our colon; these bacteria are capable of using sugar and digesting carbohydrates as food. If they are present in the colon, they produce gas – carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane.
  • Treatment: The most common treatment for SIBO is oral antibiotics. Doctors will recommend several antibiotics. Doctors will usually recommend antibiotics for one to two weeks. There is also another common treatment – probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria that if ingested, it may result to many health benefits. Depending on the severity of the case, doctors can recommend the combination of two treatments. However, doctors are hesitant about the prolonged intake of antibiotics because of its long-term effects.

It is important that we understand and take care of our digestive health. If we have concerns about our digestive health, we should not be reluctant to call our doctors. There are many specialists here in Singapore that can help us with this matter.