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Hi all,

I joined to share my story, as without all the communities and blogs around I would have been much worse right now and there is still not enough sharing around this condition.

I just got diagnosed with SIBO, but I had to wait a year from my first visit to the GP to getting diagnosed. Before even taking the test, I knew I had SIBO and I was already able to control my symptoms.

I am now taking the first cycle of antibiotics (co-amoxiclav: the doctor wouldn't give me Rifaximin) hopefully it goes well. I still didn't get rid of it so this is more a sharing of what SIBO felt like for me, to help you have no idea of what you have.

A bit of background

- September 2016: moved into a new flat.

- December 2016: started having fungus on my skin

- January 2017: started a cycle of terbinafine (antifungal drug)

- End of February 2017: 15 days trip to Vietnam, at the end of which I stopped the antifungal.

- First week of March: Went back to work and got 2 very stressful days. That's when my symptoms started.

First Symptoms

Heavy Diarrhea, even though I wouldn't probably call it Diarrhea. Diarrhea is when you NEED to run to the toilet and that's not what I had. Watery stools, like...very watery. I thought I had something viral. I started eating only rice, potatoes, yogurt, bananas and it only got worse.

After 2 weeks I went to the GP. Of course they were very confused: I had Diarrhea after travelling, taking a heavy drug that could damage the liver, while being stressed. It could have been anything.

First round of tests

I got tested for the obvious stuff: Blood Tests, Stool Tests (Bacteria, Parasites, blood traces), Liver test, thyroid, celiac disease. Everything was pretty much normal. The GP thought I had IBS and I got referred to a gastroenterologist. Not urgent of course.

Researching the web for food clues

It definitely was food related. Some things I ate would make me feel worse than others and starch was one of them.
I cut starch, my stools improved (slightly). That was still not it, but I was on the right path: I started researching for the connection between loose stools + starch with no luck.

I was on a mission to solve the mystery. I started sharing my symptoms with everyone, but none ever had something similar. Everyone with IBS had symptoms only for limited times and not constantly like I did, so that couldn't be it.

I went on a very basic diet of food that I had marked as safe. Eggs, salad, brown rice, salmon... but... I kept in bread and dark chocolate. My symptoms improved again. Still not 100% but it was progress. Plus, at this point I was so used to being sick that I was already happy with the result.

Then I cut on bread. Still not it.

Eventually I had to. I gave up sugar. That was the hardest thing for me. But I got better within a week.

I then researched sugar, watery stools and bloating connection. I found SIBO. That was it: that's what I had, I was sure.

My gastroenterologist appointment

My gastro appointment was due in the next weeks (August 2017, yep 5 months later). I started researching to prove that I had SIBO, but it wasn't necessary.

My appointment was at the royal free hospital in London and the consultant who visited me, listed SIBO in all the million things I could have had (even though she was sure, it was none of them, but just a temporary thing).

For those who never heard of SIBO: it's more bacteria than normal in the small intestine. They should live in the colon and help you digest the waste of certain foods (sugar is their favourite). When they eat the food they release gas and eventually create loose stools.

The Diagnosis

I did other tests: Colonoscopy, more blood tests and finally SIBO breath test.

The breath test revealed the truth. I was right, I had SIBO. Hopefully the antibiotics solves it, but I think it will still be a long way before I can get rid of it.

What it feels like

Your stools have no consistency but you won't feel the urge to run to the toilet.

It's not too painful but it's noisy. 20 minutes after eating you would feel (and everyone would hear) a lot of air. It feels like it's everywhere and it moves so quickly from one side to the other of your belly.

Your symptoms will be worse at night and you wake up with a lot of gas to release.

What is working for me

The SCD diet. I tweak it a bit and I still eat things that give me no symptoms, like brown rice and avoid things with high fructose (like apples). Blueberries are the best dessert substitute!!!

What I think caused it

Stress was the main trigger, but also the antifungal drug probably messed something up in my ability to digest. I recently also found out to have mold (a lot of) in my bedroom, which I think was slowing my digestion at night and not allowing the Migratory Motor Complex at night. For the newbies, the MMC consists of waves that empty the small intestine and move food into the large intestine.

My advice

If you think you have SIBO, but like me this is not really impacting your life, LIE, or go private. Eventually it does impact your life: you end up not going out anymore, not enjoying eating and food. Tell your GP that you are feeling terrible and don't share your progress until you see a gastroenterologist. SIBO is quite unknown and even if they know that you have it, they won't be really helpful (my doctor had never heard of the SCD diet).

Read labels: sugar is everywhere, especially in this country. Download any SCD apps and check every new food before introducing it into your diet.

I hope this post helps someone who is as desperate as I was to find out, what is messing with their life.

And, please, please get online and share your story.
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