Can SIBO Cause Acid Reflux? (Explained)

Acid reflux is a very disorienting disease; once you are diagnosed, you might wonder if any of your other pre-existing conditions are causing it. Identifying the underlying cause will be much easier to prevent the symptoms, and treatment can be decided accordingly. Being curious and skeptical about your medical conditions is entirely normal, but relying on duplicitous sources will do you more harm than good and will only increase your paranoia.

This article will comprehensively tell you everything you need to know about acid reflux, its causes, its connection with SIBO, and its treatment options. Keep reading to learn the answers to your constant questions.

What Is Acid Reflux?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as acid reflux, is one of the most severe digestive disorders in which stomach acids are refluxed into your esophagus due to the malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter. (LES) is a vital muscle that connects our food pipe with our stomach, it only opens to let the food contents pass, but if it gets disrupted, LES will relax at inappropriate times and cause toxic acids to pass through.

Whether or not SIBO causes it is a secondary concern. First, you must understand what acid reflux is because there might be a huge possibility that you are confusing it with something else, so learn all about its symptoms below.

Read also: Are Acid Reflux And Hemorrhoids Related?

Acid Reflux Symptoms

  1. Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD, causing sharp chest pain and a burning sensation in the back of your throat.
  2. Upper abdominal pain is also one of the reflux symptoms caused by the high pressure in your stomach.
  3. Problems in your digestive system may cause bloating and nausea
  4. Unceasing coughing episodes and hoarseness of voice
  5. The sensation of a lump in the back of your throat
  6. The high acid production level causes a sour taste in your mouth.

What Is SIBO?

Small intestinal bacterial growth (SIBO) is usually caused when food digestion is slowed down, either because of post-abdominal surgery or some other disease. The pressure in your ileocecal valve will decrease, causing prolonged bowel movement and allowing bacteria to breed and occupy the small intestine.

Even though a healthy amount of gut bacteria is essential for our bodies, when an excessive amount of bacteria, or rather the wrong type, inhabits the digestive tract, the immune system can be at higher risk.

 If SIBO can cause acid reflux, what causes SIBO, and what are the risk factors?

Causes of SIBO

  1. Pre-existence of Crohn’s disease or celiac disease
  2. If the protective qualities of bile acids and digestive enzymes decrease, the risk of SIBO will rise.
  3. Low stomach acid gives unhealthy bacteria a chance to breed
  4. Migrating motor complex is designed to ensure a healthy gut by moving bacteria from the small intestine into the large intestine. If MMC dysfunctions, there is an increased risk of sibo
  5. Reduced gut motility due to chronic stress

Symptoms of SIBO

  1. SIBO symptoms might include abdominal distension and swelling of your belly beyond its standard size. It is caused because unhealthy bacteria produce high levels of gas (methane), which results in painful bloating.
  2. Diarrhea and constipation can be caused due to slowing down bowel movements.
  3. SIBO makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, so weight loss and malnutrition are also considered the most precise indicators of SIBO.
  4. Poor gut health affects your sleep pattern hence causing fatigue which is a state of constant tediousness. It is unquestionably the most frustrating SIBO symptom. 

The Link Between Acid Reflux And SIBO

Both SIBO and acid reflux are digestive disorders; as seen above, they also have similar symptoms. Not only that, but they have correlated effects on the body as well, and as shown by statistics, 60% of acid reflux patients test positive for SIBO and vice versa. So the question is whether SIBO causes it or not.

  • There are mixed views, but Norman Robillard has said in his book “fast tract digestion” that small intestinal bacterial growth (SIBO) might be the cause behind Gerd. Rollibard claims that the excess bacteria inside our small intestines produce gases such as methane and hydrogen. These gases can expand our small intestines, increasing the pressure on the stomach. In this case, stomach acids will be pushed back into the esophagus, causing heartburn symptoms.
  • Another theory suggests that these harmful bacteria and gases it produces will travel up the gastrointestinal tract, and excessive belching will weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). And as discussed above, LES malfunction is the primary reason behind GERD.
  • Lower acid levels in our stomachs cause SIBO because the lack of hydrochloric acid increases the overgrowth of bacteria. Considering this, people who regularly take acid reducers or other acid-blocking medication to prevent Gerd unintentionally increase the likelihood of SIBO in the body.

Read also: Can Acid Reflux Cause Sinus And Ear Problems?

Treatment Options

Seeking treatment if you are experiencing GERD or SIBO symptoms is crucial. Whether connected or not, both put our digestive health at risk and cause painful effects. If left unchecked untreated, SIBO can cause atrophic gastritis, which means the small intestine’s lining will be permanently damaged.

As for GERD, there is a considerable risk of developing esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus due to continuous heartburn symptoms. It is necessary to consult a doctor and take proper medical advice to relieve your pain. A few options are listed below.

Treatment of SIBO

There is no surgical treatment for SIBO and doctors consider medicines and other lifestyle changes the primary treatment. 

If the root cause for your acid reflux is the bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine rather than some other reason, then you’ll be happy to find out that treating SIBO will also prevent GERD symptoms.

The following treatments can solve both SIBO and GERD at once.

  1. Medicines 

The first and foremost solution to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is to consult a doctor and take the prescribed medicines regularly. Your doctor might recommend antibiotics like rifaximin or norfloxacin. These drugs will kill the harmful bacteria in your small intestine, and the pain will alleviate. 

Other than that, taking vitamins, calcium, and iron supplements is also essential, and in the case of severe malnutrition, patients might have to take intramuscular vitamin b-12 injections.

  1. Dietary restrictions 

Several dietary changes must be made if you wish to prevent SIBO symptoms. Firstly, trigger food substances should be abstained from at all costs. These might include beans, wheat, dairy products like cheese and ice cream, and vegetables such as onions and cabbage. 

The list goes on and on, and your doctor can guide you properly with a suitable diet after they observe your body’s reaction to certain food substances but considering that damage to the small intestine must have affected your ability to digest lactose, you should switch to a lactose-free diet.

Foods to eat:

  1. Garlic
  2. Oatmeal
  3. Broccoli
  4. Eggs
  5. Fish and meat

3. Restore gastric health

SIBO directly affects the mucus membrane of your small intestine, which is the reason behind a leaky gut. Aloe vera and other mucilage forms can be used to repair the gastrointestinal tract, hopefully reducing your GERD symptoms significantly.

The best way to recover your digestive health is to add more fiber and nutrients to your diet, aiding your system and strengthening your body enough to fight the bacteria. Reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and increasing water intake daily will rebalance your hormones, and your chances of recovery will be higher.

Treatment of Acid Reflux 

Now that we have discussed the possible treatment options for SIBO-caused GERD. What to do if your doctor concludes that your acid reflux is unrelated?

Solving SIBO will not rid you of GERD symptoms in this situation, and the treatment options will be completely different.

  1. Lifestyle changes

One of the most common reasons behind acid reflux is obesity, which is why GERD patients must lose weight. The reduction in excess body mass will reduce the high pressure on the stomach, and stomach acids will not reflux into the esophagus.

To do this, more fiber should be added to your diet. The nutrients will not only strengthen your body, but their fulfilling qualities will prevent overeating. Other than that, exercise should also be part of your daily routine.

  1. Prescribes drugs

Much like SIBO, the primary treatment for GERD is also medication. Your doctor might recommend antacids and h2 blockers to neutralize the toxic acids in your stomach, but proton pump inhibitors are considered one of the most effective medicines for acid reflux. PPI reduces the level of acid production by your glands, the same drug used for treating ulcers.

  1. Surgical procedure       

At last, if lifestyle changes, diet modifications, and medicines do not work, and you feel your symptoms are only worsening, surgical procedures might be your only option to solve GERD/ acid reflux permanently. After taking your surgeon’s advice and discussing all your options, medical procedures such as gastric bypass or Nissen fundoplication can be performed. In a Nissen fundoplication, surgeons will tighten the junction connecting the esophagus and stomach to prevent reflux.

These are safe surgeries performed by professionals, and there is scientific proof and evidence of their success in the past.

Neglecting diseases such as this can cause fatal consequences. Hence, the minute you start doubting the development of GERD or SIBO in your body, consult a doctor and get a proper diagnosis.

Read also: Is Sea Moss Good For Acid Reflux – Solved

Can SIBO Cause Acid Reflux Summary

Did you find this article helpful? Share this with your friends suffering from GERD or SIBO symptoms and help them understand the causes, relations, and treatment of these chronic illnesses.