Dysbiosis is a condition in which the gut bacteria become imbalanced, leading to a wide range of digestive disturbances including bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach cramps, among others. This condition has been linked to various illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease, and gastritis, to name a few.
What is Dysbiosis?
Dysbiosis is a condition when the gut bacteria become imbalanced. As a result, a wide range of digestive disturbance symptoms occurs, including diarrhea, cramping, constipation, bloating, and indigestion. When there is a disparity in the gut’s normal flora, caused by too few beneficial bacteria and an overgrowth of bad bacteria, it can cause dysbiosis.
There are at least 400 species of bacteria found in the gut microbiome. They are essential for overall health as they aid in digestion, fight off pathogenic microorganisms, and synthesize vitamins. The normal flora of the body can be found in various areas and they’re essential for overall health and wellness. When these bacteria become imbalanced, and the bad ones override the beneficial bacteria, or grow uncontrollably, it can cause illness.
What Causes Ddysbiosis?
There are many factors that can lead to the condition, including the excessive or wrong use of antibiotics, excessive alcohol consumption, increased intake of sugar or protein, frequent use of antacids, exposure to pesticides, and chronic stress, to name a few. Also, poor dental hygiene and anxiety can also lead to dysbiosis.
In some cases, studies have linked dysbiosis to being born via C-section and being formula fed among newborns.
Signs and Symptoms of Dysbiosis
The main signs and symptoms of dysbiosis are digestive disturbances. People with the condition may experience frequent gas or bloating. This means that they feel bloated on most days of the week. Also, they suffer from abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and constipation, with mucus in the stool. They may have a combination of diarrhea and constipation, food sensitivities, food intolerances, and chronic bad breath.
In some cases, people may experience a difficulty in urinating, vaginal or rectal itching, chest pain, rashes, fatigue, trouble concentrating, depression, anxiety, and brain fog.
The doctor can diagnose dysbiosis based on the signs and symptoms, medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. A person may have dysbiosis if he or she has a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a history of prolonged antibiotic use, autoimmune disease, or a history of gastroenteritis. However, to confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may recommend the following diagnostic tests:
Organic Acid Tests
The doctor will recommend an organic acid test. This is done by collecting a urine sample and examining it in the laboratory. They will look and test certain acids that bacteria emit in the gut. Abnormal levels will mean that some bacteria are growing out of control.
Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)
A comprehensive stool analysis can give the most in-depth analysis of bacteria, both good and pathogenic that live in the gut. Also, stool exams can determine the presence of other opportunistic infections such as parasitic organisms.
The doctor will let the patient take home special equipment to collect a sample of stool. The sample will then be sent to the laboratory. The stool will be examined to detect the presence of bacteria, yeasts, or fungi.
Hydrogen Breath Test
A hydrogen breast test detects the presence of gases produced by bacteria in the gut. In the hydrogen breath test, the doctor will let the patient drink a glucose or sugar solution. After, the patient will breathe into a special balloon where the air is examined for the presence of gases produced by bacteria. When there are excessive amounts of gases, or too little, this can indicate an imbalance in the gut bacteria.
The doctor may take a sample of bacteria tissue from the gut where there is an active infection to see what type of bacteria are present.
Treating dysbiosis is more than just taking probiotics to maintain the balance in the gut. It has something to do with proper food choices, avoiding certain foods and activities, and limiting alcohol intake, or eradicating it altogether. Eating a healthy diet and reducing the amount of sugar and food additives consumed is a promising way to curb dysbiosis and maintain a healthy gut.
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Last Updated: Oct 8, 2018
Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo
Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She is currently completing her Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and worked as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.
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