Is acid reflux really SIBO?

Up to two thirds of people with the common condition, acid reflux or reflux esophagitis, have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO, as the underlying cause. Ironically, stomach acid-suppressing drugs like Aciphex, Protonic, and Prilosec may reduce symptoms of acid reflux but actually worsen the cause, i.e., SIBO. This is because stomach acid is a barrier against the entry of microorganisms from food, as well as a deterrent to microorganisms trying to ascend from the colon: the longer you take these drugs, the more likely you develop SIBO or worsen SIBO.

Let’s put aside the question of whether there is hyperchlorhydria (excessive stomach acid) vs. hypochlorhydria (lack of stomach acid typically due to H. pylori infection of the stomach or autoimmune gastritis from wheat/grain consumption) and focus only on acid reflux and reflux esophagitis in which stomach acid is permitted to regurgitate, or “reflux,” upwards past the gastroesophageal sphincter and up into the esophagus where acid is very corrosive.

The ultimate treatment for many people suffering with acid reflux is therefore not an acid-blocking drug, though they can be used for near-term relief, but to address the SIBO. Recognize, then manage SIBO, and many people can avert not only continued acid reflux but all the other consequences of uncorrected SIBO such as diverticular disease, fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases, prostatitis, urinary urgency, irritable bowel syndrome, and colon cancer. And you can accomplish this on your own without the interference of the doctor or the healthcare system.

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