Q: I am 70 years old, and have been fit and active all of my life. Now, I have “functional dyspepsia” resulting in early satiety, upper GI bloating, and belching, with unwanted 30-pound weight loss over 4 years. I’m also weak, exhausted, and sensitive to gluten and dairy. I would appreciate any suggestions. I especially need help in gaining weight. Thank you!
A: Dyspepsia is a common term that is used to characterize abdominal pain in the upper abdomen and chest. If you have been told you have functional dyspepsia, this indicates that there is no identifiable cause of your abdominal pain, a difficult and frustrating situation for a patient.
What you are describing may be a condition called SIBO, which stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Normally, the small intestine contains relatively few bacteria, as most intestinal bacteria are confined to the large intestine. Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, and bloating after eating due to the overproduction of methane and hydrogen gas. It also interferes with normal digestion and absorption of food and can cause inflammation to the lining of the small intestine.
Situations that promote the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine can be low pancreatic enzymes, low hydrochloride acid, or other conditions.
I would recommend getting tested for SIBO. The diagnostic test is a breath test. At the Kaplan Center, when called for, the breath test is ordered for our patients and results are normally ready in 3 weeks. If you test positive, treatment includes supplements specific to SIBO, dietary modifications, probiotics, and in many cases a specific antibiotic for SIBO.
I truly hope this is helpful.
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