If you have been feeling ill recently, it can be difficult to know if you are just temporarily under the weather or if a more serious medical condition is to blame.
What may seem like a minor irritation can sometimes be caused by an underlying serious illness or disease. However, the average person likely is not aware of which symptoms to look for or when to consult a doctor.
One lesser-known medical condition that can affect both your digestive health and your general health overall is SIFO (Small Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth).
If you have been struggling with multiple unexplained digestive symptoms, small intestinal yeast overgrowth may be to blame.
What Is Small Intestinal Yeast Overgrowth?
Billions of healthy, good bacteria live in your stomach. These bacteria normally work together to regulate your body and maintain your health. However, at times, problems may arise.
The fungal bacteria typically associated with SIFO is candida yeast. As the name implies, small intestinal fungal overgrowth occurs when the normal bacteria in your body multiplies and grows too rapidly.
An unbalanced bacteria presence can cause a myriad of health problems throughout your body, not just stay localized to your gut.
What Are the Signs of Small Intestinal Yeast Overgrowth?
Although every body is unique and, therefore, will react to SIFO slightly differently, there are typically tell-tale signs for the condition.
The following are the more common symptoms of small intestinal yeast overgrowth:
- Gastrointestinal or abdominal pain or cramping
- Frequent stomach bloating and/or gas
- Constipation, diarrhea, or both
- Recurring, strong cravings for sweet and starchy foods
- Regular exhaustion or fatigue that is not improved with sleep
- Mood swings
- Depression, anxiety, and/or panic attacks
- External skin conditions such as acne or eczema
Because much of the medical knowledge about gut health is relatively new, conditions like small intestinal yeast overgrowth may not be commonly known. Patients who are experiencing the symptoms of SIFO may not recognize them as being associated with the condition.
Therefore, it is important to seek medical treatment if you are consistently experiencing two or more of these symptoms.
What Other Factors Put You at Risk for Small Intestinal Yeast Overgrowth?
If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms of SIFO, it is even more likely that you have the condition if you also meet the criteria below:
- Patients who have depressed immune systems—for example, due to HIV, AIDS, or cancer—are considered more at risk for intestinal fungal overgrowth.
- Diabetes, young or old age, and recurring hospitalization also contribute to the overgrowth of yeast in the gut.
Additionally, there are non-medical risk factors for developing small intestinal yeast overgrowth. Your digestive health can be damaged by any of the following:
- Artificial sweeteners or high amounts of sugar
- Constant snacking
- Significant alcohol consumption
- Mold, fungi, pesticides, lead, arsenic, or other toxins and hazardous materials
- High stress levels
- Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and antacids
- Stronger medications such as steroids or opioids
How Can You Avoid Developing Small Intestinal Yeast Overgrowth?
Lifestyle changes can help restore your gut to its former health and help you begin living more comfortably almost immediately. There are several things you can do to help manage your gut health.
Diet plays a significant role in maintaining healthy levels of bacteria in the body. In particular, as described above, limiting sugars, carbohydrates, and alcohol can help you avoid developing unhealthy amounts of bacteria.
It is equally as important to manage your stress levels and take care of your mental health. A calm, balanced mind will also help keep your body in shape.
If you believe you are suffering from small intestinal yeast overgrowth, begin by seeking the proper medical diagnosis and treatment. Please, contact me if you would like help to assess your situation and discuss an individualized treatment plan.