Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome of the Small Intestine

Bacterial overgrowth syndrome

is usually associated with the small intestine than the large intestine. The small intestine contains 10,000 (or less) bacterium per millilitre. As the name of the syndrome suggests, when this number is abnormally more than what it should be, people would start developing symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, nausea and malabsorption.

Causes of Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome:

The food that is ingested has to pass from the stomach, through the small intestine into the colon. All this is achieved by the muscular activity in the stomach muscles.

These stomach muscles along with aiding the digestion of food, also sweep the excess bacteria in the small intestine out thus, maintaining a proper balance. But, when this muscular activity in the small intestine gets interrupted, the bacteria are automatically sustained in the intestine and they begin to multiply.

The following factors may interrupt the muscular activity in the small intestine-

  • medications
  • proton pump inhibitors
  • diverticula
  • fistulae
  • loops created during an intestinal surgery

Also, people who suffer from immunity system disorders are vulnerable to this overgrowth syndrome.

Symptoms of Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome:

Other than the symptoms mentioned above, people suffering from overgrowth of bacteria would also suffer from constipation, excessive gas, weight loss, fatigue and body aches.

These symptoms can last for several months or years before a proper diagnosis can be made.


The most preferred treatment for dealing with bacterial overgrowth in the intestines is antibiotic therapy. There are several antibiotics like rifaximin, neomycin, fluoroquinolone and tetracycline. But the best ones for treating this syndrome are




. The duration of the therapy is usually one week.

But the problem is that the symptoms could resurface once the antibiotics are stopped. So, doctors usually have to diagnose the underlying condition that might be causing the real problem and treat that.

When the bacterium in the small intestine are found to be more than 100,000 per millilitre, then the condition is confirmed as

bacterial overgrowth syndrome


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