SIBO common cause of wasting away in elderly

Senior Couple

Do you have an older loved one in your life who seems to be wasting away no matter what you do to keep them nourished and healthy? This may be due to a condition called SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. SIBO happens when bacteria that normally belong in the large intestine travel backwards to colonize the small intestine. The small intestine is where we absorb the majority of our nutrients from food. Because SIBO inflames and damages the small intestine, this prevents these vital nutrients from being absorbed. As a result, the body and brain cannot function efficiently and it is difficult to maintain weight.

Symptoms of SIBO

For most people, symptoms of SIBO are straightforward. One of the most common symptoms is bloating after eating, particularly after eating grains, desserts, or other starchy foods. Other SIBO symptoms include gas, belching, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain and cramping, and either constipation, diarrhea, or both.

Doctors often misdiagnose SIBO as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as the symptoms are so similar. In fact, SIBO has been found in more than 80 percent of patients diagnosed with IBS.

Wasting away in elderly is usually SIBO symptom

Most doctors and patients haven’t heard of SIBO and blame this rapid decline in the elderly on aging. However, researchers have identified SIBO, which is treatable, as the leading cause of malabsorption, and thus wasting away, in older adults.

SIBO doesn’t always result in malabsorption and wasting away. People can fall anywhere along a range of symptoms, from asymptomatic to the severe. But those who fall in the middle of the spectrum can become progressively worse. That’s why complaints of bloating and gas after meals should be taken seriously and not thought of as normal.

As SIBO and malabsorption worsen, nutrition status can plummet. Levels of B vitamins drop, which impacts many functions in the body, including brain function. Inflammation may also increase as the body’s ability to regulate immune function deteriorates.  It seems no matter how much older people with SIBO supplement, they cannot improve their low vitamin D status or persistent anemia.

The most devastating consequence of untreated SIBO and malabsorption is that it profoundly affects brain health and function, increasing the risk of dementia. It also saps energy and vitality. When an older person complains of bloating and distention after meals, it should not be dismissed as a minor complaint but rather taken seriously as a red flag indicating more serious problems down the road.

The cause and treatment of SIBO

A variety of things can cause SIBO, including antibiotic use, poor diet, and digestive damage, such as from a long-standing undiagnosed celiac condition.

In older adults (and in those who have sustained a concussion or brain injury), another cause to watch out for is declining brain function. The digestive tract depends on healthy brain function to work properly. When signals from the brain to the gut are not robust enough, the ileocecal valve, which separates the large intestine from the small intestine, may weaken and allow contents from the large intestine to travel backward into the small intestine, where they colonize. It is not the bacteria themselves that cause SIBO symptoms, but the byproducts they produce. These bacteria also compete with the host for protein in the diet.

Treatment for SIBO includes a strict diet to starve the bacteria, as well as targeted botanicals to kill them. Doing specific exercise to improve communication between the brain and the gut can also help prevent SIBO from perpetuating.

Ask my office for more information.

Dr. Michael Veselak, D.C.

Dr. Michael Veselak, D.C. has been practicing Chiropractic care in Camarillo, California for over 33 years. Throughout his experience, Dr. Veselak has recognized the importance of treating each patient based on their condition rather than their symptoms. In recent years, Dr. Michael Veselak has become a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and Board Certified in Integrative Medicine, allowing him to evaluate each patient neurologically and metabolically, as well as from a chiropractic standpoint. In doing so, Dr. Veselak has seen tremendous success in his patients suffering from chronic conditions such as Peripheral Neuropathy, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Spinal Stenosis, Degenerative Disc Problems, and Thyroid Disorders. Using state-of-the-art technology, such a Cold Laser, Hako-Med, Spinal Decompression, Vibration Therapy and Brain-based exercises, Dr. Michael Veselak has witnessed profound effects with various chronic conditions. It is his mission to leave no stone unturned in getting to the root cause of your pain, rather than merely treating the symptoms with medications. If you or someone you know is suffering from a chronic condition, please contact Dr. Michael Veselak at (805) 482-0723.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu
%d bloggers like this: