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I’ll be honest, I’ve been putting off writing this post for months. In reality, it may actually be closer to a year but you know me, I like things to be a bit more wrapped up before I start talking about them. I need time to experience things, let it sink in and then figure out what I and other people can learn from it. This post is no exception. I hope you can learn a thing or two from my SIBO diagnosis and gut healing journey this past year…

Okay, let’s get into the post.

I was recently got a SIBO diagnosis and have been on a gut healing journey ever since. Today I'm sharing how I was diagnosed and what I'm doing to heal.

I have always been someone with stomach troubles. I’ll never forget the horrible stomach aches I used to have when I was in my teens and first received the diagnosis of IBS. Since then, I’ve talked about struggling with IBS now and then, but honestly, with a healthy diet, a good sense of my triggers and keeping my stress levels down it hasn’t been something that has bothered me in the last few years.

One of the first signs of stress for me is a stomach ache, followed by a breakout. My body has never been shy in letting me know when it’s overburdened. So last year around this time, when I was dealing with really bad anxiety, some trauma from our car accident and the stress of moving from Toronto to San Francisco, my stomach understandably went haywire. I definitely was not prioritizing self-care, and honestly, with everything going on I’m not sure that I could have. I was hoping that it was just a really bad season of my life and that it would pass.

In the New Year, I got the fresh start I was hoping for with a trip to Guatemala. It was really nice to get away, leave the stresses behind and focus on getting my health back-on-track and go into 2017 with positive intentions. While I certainly came back feeling a lot less stressed, my stomach didn’t seem to agree. In fact, it got worse.

I won’t go into too many details, but basically I was dealing with a lot of bloating, gas and very frequent trips to the bathroom everyday. I’ve always been a once-a-day kind of girl so it was strange to be going 3-4x a day and things definitely were not solid. I’m all about poop talk…sorry not sorry.

This persisted for the next couple of months until I decided that I needed to be a bit more proactive about my health. I started being more diligent about my probiotic, adding in more fermented foods and cut out coffee (which some of you may remember). Unfortunately, none of these seemed to help. In fact, my bloating felt like it was only getting worse.

I was recently got a SIBO diagnosis and have been on a gut healing journey ever since. Today I'm sharing how I was diagnosed and what I'm doing to heal.

I thought it was time to contact my doctor about what was going on. I sent her a message via our telemedicine platform and she suggested I try cutting out dairy to see if it helps. Besides a little bit of cheese here and there and the occasional yogurt, I don’t consume much dairy and I was skeptical that it was lactose intolerance causing this but I figured I’d give it a try. I did this for 3 weeks and unfortunately noticed no difference. So I ended up booking an appointment to see my primary care physician.

I love my primary care physician and appreciate the fact that she listens to me and doesn’t try to belittle my problems. To anyone out there who is unhappy with their PCP know that it’s okay to look around for your PCP. Every doctor has a different style and you are entitled to finding the right fit for you!

After listening to my story she decided to do a stool sample and blood work to test for a few things. The main things were the gene for celiac disease and a stool test for parasites. Oh the glamor of stool tests! We speculated that since things got worse after Guatemala, we might be dealing with a possible parasite situation.

However, both tests came back with no issues besides low iron, though we both agreed that there was a possibility of there being a parasite that came up undetected. She ended up referring me to a gastroenterologist to explore the issues further and speculated that I might be dealing with a SIBO diagnosis aka Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.

I was recently got a SIBO diagnosis and have been on a gut healing journey ever since. Today I'm sharing how I was diagnosed and what I'm doing to heal.

I’m not a doctor and I don’t want to diagnose you or have you diagnose yourself so I’ll refer you here to find out more, but basically it means there is an excessive amount of bacteria in your small intestine that can cause a whole bunch of issues including, frequent bathroom trips, bloating and even skin issues (hello! hi! that’s me.).

SIBO can occur in anyone but it’s more prevalent in people with a history of IBS and have also travelled to developing countries. It’s possible I had it before going to Guatemala, but it’s also possible I got it in Guatemala. Being exposed to foreign bacteria can always throw your system out of whack. So even if it isn’t a parasite just the exposure to new types of bacteria can affect your digestive system.

So onto the gastro I went with a possible diagnosis and a little more hope. My gastro was also awesome and upon hearing my story, also felt certain I was dealing with a case of SIBO. The only way to test for SIBO is to do a hydrogen breath test. Ultimately my gastro felt it was an unnecessary expense given her certainty this was what I was dealing with and the ease with which you can treat it (a two week antibiotic course).

Now I normally don’t like treating things without a confirmed diagnosis, but I was so desperate to not have to run to the bathroom 4x a day and had developed a strange rash on my belly that I decided to move forward with the antibiotics.

Within 2 days it was like I was back to my old self. Seriously, 2 days. And by the end of the two weeks it was as though the previous 8 months hadn’t even happened. I may be hippie-natural about most things, but in this case I’ve never been more grateful for Western medicine and the access I have to healthcare and quality physicians.

Since then I’ve continued to avoid fermented foods and dairy (besides date night pizza). My digestion has never been better and my skin has actually started to clear up as well. I don’t believe in a magic pill, but this one came pretty close. My doctors were spot on after taking the time to listen, explore and find a treatment plan that worked for me.

The thing about SIBO is that it frequently comes back so you have to be especially careful. Oftentimes it’s encouraged you follow a low FODMAPs diet, but given my history with disordered eating and my preference for being relaxed around food, it just isn’t the right solution for me. I will instead be focusing on how to better support my gut health by slowly adding things in (or back in) like a daily probiotic, fermented foods and plenty of fiber. I’m doing this slowly so you won’t find me guzzling kombucha and chowing down on salads anytime soon.

I was recently got a SIBO diagnosis and have been on a gut healing journey ever since. Today I'm sharing how I was diagnosed and what I'm doing to heal.

I’m telling you this story for two reasons:

1) To help anyone out there who is struggling with SIBO or other digestive issues. Maybe it helps you identify your own digestive problems or bring up the conversation with your doctor about a possible SIBO diagnosis. I’m not here to tell you that you 100% have SIBO or tell you how to treat it (I leave that to the professionals), but just give you a reminder that if you do have digestive problems, it is worth exploring them.

2) GET INSURED. If you live in the US, an easier to solve problem or diagnosis like SIBO can get expensive without health insurance. Just imagine the cost if it’s something far worse. I rarely, if ever, get sick, but I’m not risking it just because I’m seemingly a healthy, young woman. So if you haven’t signed up for health insurance, please remember the enrolment deadline is December 15th. That’s in TEN days. If you’re confused, uncertain and want to explore your options, will help you out.

* * * * *

I have a feeling this post will come as a surprise to most of you since I have not discussed any of my digestive troubles this year. Like I said, I oftentimes need to experience something and process it before I can talk about it. I also am weary of creating more problems for people where they don’t exist. Stress is real and can affect your digestive system, hormones and pretty much every other aspect of your life, so don’t immediately jump to conclusions about diagnosing every single health issue. Sometimes we get zits and gas and dandruff etc…and they don’t need to be a cause for alarm. We aren’t superhuman. But when problems persist, seek help. Ask questions, be your own health advocate and trust the experts. I hope this can be the main takeaway from this post.

I’ll keep you updated on how things are doing as I heal my body (in a very moderate and compassionate way) and for the zillionth time, GET INSURED. That is all!

Have you struggled with SIBO? How do you support your gut health?

Meet the Maven

Hi! I'm Davida and welcome to my corner of the internet. I'm a wellness blogger, yoga teacher, certified herbalist, and green beauty lover.

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  1. Wooooo! I can even tell a difference in your everyday candor. You seem so much happier and agreed about the skin thing! So glad you finally figure out what the hell was wrong (even though it took 8 months) and I am happy with your decision not to follow any kind of diet. You worked incredibly hard to get to this point in your eating career (lol) and I love that you’re doing what’s right for both your physical and mental health. LOVE YOU BABES.

  2. I have struggled with GI issues and was diagnosed with SIBO this year. Hopefully it will be discussed more and more as it seems it is being recognized more by MDs. Thanks for sharing and hope to hear more about your SIBO/digestive health journey!

  3. What would you recommend for someone in the process of ruling out IBS vs SIBO? Even just small steps, how to ID food triggers while still listening to your body? I finally put the pieces together this semester that it’s possible I have IBS and I’m heading to my PCP as soon as possible but until then it’s been a bit of a struggle getting my materials together for when I see my PCP

  4. I can definitely attest to stress as being a significant issue for stomach problems. For nearly 2 years I really struggled with Acid Reflux, sometimes it would last for 3-4 days. I tried taking the OTC medications and tried other remedies, but the thing that helped me the most was focusing on my stress levels and making an effort to manage them better. For one, I always noticed my stomach issues were triggered early in the morning. I thought for the longest time it was my coffee consumption, but cutting that out didn’t help. I finally tied the episodes to it being when I was running later or behind in the morning, instantly causing me to stress out, especially on an empty stomach before breakfast. So, I started to work on a better night routine so that I could have a better morning routine (finding my clothes the night before, packing my lunch, etc.). Now, I rarely have any issues, and when I do, it’s almost always still tied to any type of stress I experience early in the morning. This was a great post and thanks for the info!

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! I was diagnosed with SIBO along with my Crohn’s disease within the last few years and it can be a daily struggle. Every day often brings new challenges, but hopefully you’ll continue to feel good! If you don’t mind me asking, what antibiotic did you take? I’ve heard of a few, but would love to know! Thanks again and thanks for the honest and real post – I know the feeling!

  6. thank you for sharing! there i no shame in poop talk! i too struggle HORRIBLY with what can only be classified as IBS with constipation. after suffering the past year after trying EVERYTHING on my own, i finally got an appointment with a GI who is wonderful btw. i ended up going through testing of both my upper and lower GI – which found nothing other than just some anatomical challenges…which is both good news and frustrating! for right now i’m taking a high dose of probiotics…shakeology daily that also has probiotics and digestive enzymes, i also avoid dairy..take fiber gummies and take miralax daily… so for now that is what i’m doing and some days it helps and some days i feel hopeless :/ so keep sharing your story girl and i’m so glad you got it figured out and feel so much better!!!

  7. Great post Davida. Thank you for sharing. I’d never heard of SIBO either and now I’m wondering if maybe that’s the cause of my “issues” as well. I’d just assumed it was IBS but maybe there is actually more to it.
    I’ll be reading more about SIBO so I’m prepared for my next visit with my PCP.

  8. This makes me want to officially get tested for SIBO now. I’ve been dealing with soooo many skin issues, from breaking out all over my face to hives to blistered lips – its crazy. Even back when I saw you in September things felt better but just last week in Costa Rica I think I had too much coconut and my lips blistered and got so inflamed. It was crazy. I”m sure stress doesn’t help either…

    Anyways, so glad you’re feeling better!! 🙂

  9. I think that this might have brought some sort of insight into my current struggle. I was diagnosed with IBS at a young age and lactose intolerance. Doctors thought I had Crohn’s. My youth has been RIDDLED with horrendous stomach pain, and even into adulthood, not a day goes by without some sort of gastric abnormality. And despite regular exercise and a healthy diet, I still suffer. I actually just wrote on my blog about how I spent my Saturday evening, thanks to indulging in a vanilla milkshake. Haha. It was horrible. Anyway, I’ll be looking into this for sure. Thanks for your transparency!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’ve never heard of SIBO and now have a few tabs open to learn more. I have always had a sensitive stomach, though in recent years it’s been better due to an increase in my gut health from probiotics and lots of fermented foods. I hadn’t even pondered that you could have TOO MUCH of a good thing though. I’m fascinated and will definitely be reading more on SIBO.

    And yep – totally agree re: health insurance being so important! I’m covered =)