You have probably heard of it, and many of us have it. Meet dysbacteriosis, a condition that is not listed in guidelines. More popular among doctors from Eastern Europe, the diagnosis is sometimes given on this side of the pond. What are the symptoms of this curious condition? And what are the causes behind it? Let’s find it out.
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Dysbacteriosis, or dysbiosis, occurs when some changes happen to your microbiome. The myriads of bacteria living inside everyone’s gastrointestinal tract are called microbiota. There are many different strains, most of which are not only harmless, but beneficial. They help process the food you cannot process, produce vitamins and other chemicals used by the body, and fight off unwanted microorganisms.
The food we eat, the environment we live in, everything we do affect our microbiota. All the strains inside are normally balanced, but if this balance is disturbed, consequences follow.
What are dysbacteriosis symptoms?
The condition is widespread, as the diets we follow are often not that healthy. People with microbiota out of balance can experience constipation, diarrhea, bloating, upset stomach, halitosis, fatigue, chest pain, anxiety, etc.
Dysbiosis is the cause behind our upset stomach and occasional stool problems. As microbial colonies compete for resources, one of them may overgrow, which leads to other colonies being damaged. When it happens, they cannot benefit digestion the way they used to, and symptoms develop.
One of the reasons why dysbacteriosis affects our health is that these bacteria excrete byproducts in the course of their activities. Normally, the body can handle all the waste, but if some colony is overgrowing, it becomes difficult for the waste removal system to eliminate all these harmful substances.
What are the causes of dysbiosis?
There are three main causes of dysbiosis.
- Inappropriate diet. A diet rich in sugar, food additives or even such chemicals as pesticides (you never know how vegetables and fruits from grocery stores were grown) is likely to disrupt your GI inhabitant system.
- Antibiotic exposure. Antibiotics do not have this name for nothing: they kill bacteria, both harmful and beneficial, and it inevitably leads to strain imbalance. In most cases, the body can restore the balance as soon as you stop taking antibiotics.
- Alcohol misuse. Drinking more than one beverage a day can result in microbiota imbalance.
Other causes may include poor oral hygiene (as more harmful bacteria may get into your GI tract), stress, etc.
How is it treated?
In fact, treatment is needed only in severe cases, like antibiotics-induced diarrhea that won’t stop. The body can restore the balance itself, if negative factors are eliminated (such as stress, antibiotics, chemicals, etc.).
Many people believe that taking supplements known as probiotics and prebiotics can help. Well, theoretically, they are beneficial, as the strains, which are called probiotics, usually have a positive effect on the body. The thing is, they simply cannot compete with the indigenous bacteria, which almost inevitably will conquer the peacemakers. The strains that probiotics are made of are different from those normally living in us, and they cannot help our native microbiome the way we want them to do it. There are up to 2 kg of bacteria in our gut (impressive, isn’t it?), and that tiny pill or powder you take will not make much difference.
If you have diarrhea that resulted from antibiotics intake, you can drink kefir or some other drink of this type, because it contains much more beneficial bacteria that specially advertised drinks do. Yoghurts will do too, but choose natural ones.
One more note: dysbiosis tests have little to no value, as they are designed to check the condition of a couple of dozens of strains, while there are a thousand of them – the data you get simply won’t be enough to make any conclusions.
What Causes Dysbiosis and How Is It Treated? – Healthline.com
Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body – Journals.plos.org