Gastrointestinal Problems: The Differences Between IBS, IBD, SIBO & Leaky Gut

Gastrointestinal problems are the number one reason people join the Thryve Gut Health Program. The issue with determining which conditions are causing you gastrointestinal distress is that many of the symptoms of GI problems are the same. However, just because symptoms of gastrointestinal problems are alike doesn’t mean that they should all be treated the same way.
Four of the most common gastrointestinal disorders include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), irritable bowel disease (IBD), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and leaky gut syndrome. Let’s take a look at the many differences and similarities surrounding these gastrointestinal problems and how the Thryve Gut Health Program may help.


What Are the Similarities in Gastrointestinal Problems?

Gastrointestinal distress comes and goes throughout our lives. Sometimes we have too much on Thanksgiving dinner, while other times we might have drunk the water on vacation when we shouldn’t have. Whether you are exhibiting long-term symptoms or overnight GI problems, many causes of gastrointestinal distress will overlap.


Symptoms of GI Problems

When you are experiencing gastrointestinal distress, you  may be suffering from any of the following:
• Bloating
• Cramping
• Feeling Constipated
• Heartburn
• Acid Reflux
• Diarrhea
• Indigestion
• Pain

Whether you are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut syndrome, these gastrointestinal problems tend to manifest. This makes diagnosing gastrointestinal disorders so difficult. However, there is a difference between these common GI problems. Let’s examine those differences.


What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that affects up to 11% of the population [1]. Two out of three of these people are women. Those who have IBS experience sharp abdominal pains. These ab pains prompt the person to urgently use the bathroom.
Technically, IBS is a functional disorder. It’s sporadic hit-and-run strategy causes the person experiencing the gastrointestinal problems to alternate between diarrhea and feeling constipated.
While IBS can impede on your everyday life, it doesn’t cause inflammation or autoimmune disease. In these moments, IBS graduates to one of the more serious gastrointestinal problems–irritable bowel disease (IBD).


What is Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)?

Irritable bowel disease (IBD) is when there is inflammation in the gut biome that causes severe or permanent damage. When you have IBD, your bathroom frequency increases. You may have blood in your stools and experience severe bouts of fatigue.
The direct cause of IBD is unknown. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) attribute to these gastrointestinal problems to a compromised immune system [2].

The Immune System and IBD

When the immune system is robust, then your gut biome is strong enough to fight the onslaught of opportunistic stomach bacteria, fungal infections, and other suppressors.
As the immune system becomes compromised, inflammation begins to form next to tissue cells. This is when the different types of IBD come into play.

Types of IBD

IBD is a blanket term to describe two conditions in particular. Those who have IBD are either diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s Disease. Let’s take a closer look at the differences.


Ulcerative Colitis

As the name suggests, ulcerative colitis (UC) creates long-term ulcers in the GI tract [3]. For the most part, it damages the large intestine and colon.
Ulcerative colitis develops over time. Patches of inflammation pop up, typically within the innermost lining of the large intestine. Symptoms of UC remain consistent. An ulcerative colitis relapse after treatment is extremely common, affecting up to 30% of patients within one year [4].


Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease is bit more invasive than UC (if you can imagine that being possible). That’s because Crohn’s affects all layers of the GI tract. In addition, it spurs up between healthy cells. Therefore, it helps destroy our number one defense mechanism against autoimmune disease.
Typically, Crohn’s Disease happens at the end of the small intestine. However, it can penetrate through the entire intestinal wall. 67% of those who are treated for Crohn’s Disease tend to have a relapse within five years.


What is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)?

As the name suggests, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is when foreign stomach bacteria take up residence in the small intestine. That means opportunistic microbes destroy healthy cells and alter the pH level. These changes make it more difficult for probiotic bacteria to survive in the gut biome.
When you suffer from SIBO, you will experience normal gastrointestinal problems. One of the symptoms you might not recognize is that you will lack nutrient absorption.
The small intestine plays a crucial role in how our body processes vitamins and minerals [5]. When the organ is compromised, we might not get the protein necessary to power through the day or the micronutrients needed for energy.
Those with SIBO might be prescribed antibiotics. If this happens, it is imperative you supplement with probiotics. Antibiotics wipe out all intestinal flora. An empty stomach may destroy the bacterial overgrowth, but it leaves a clean slate for any other microbe to come into town. By getting rid of SIBO with antibiotics, you might make your body susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome.


What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Last is certainly not least because we all have some form of leaky gut. Our small intestine is created by cells that have small pockets that allow for ventilation and nutrient absorption. When we suffer from chronic inflammation caused by IBD or SIBO, it may widen those holes between the cell wall. This reaction leaves the body open to toxic interactions.
Leaky Gut Syndrome is when toxins permeate from the gut to the bloodstream. When this happens, it can trigger a number of gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune disease, and mental health issues.
There are a number of supplements for Leaky Gut Syndrome. Some of the best supplements for leaky gut include:

slippery elm for leaky gutLearn more about the best supplements for Leaky Gut Syndrome
The key to how to repair a leaky gut is to stop eating foods that will cause inflammation and allergic reactions. From there, heal the lining with healthy fats, lean proteins, and complex carbs. Lastly, enroll in the Thryve Gut Health Program to try microbiome testing and get personalized probiotics supplements.


Thryve Gut Health Program for Gastrointestinal Problems

If you have gastrointestinal problems, please consult a physician. While they test you for the gastrointestinal disorders we discussed, let Thryve help you start your wellness journey.
First, try microbiome testing. No matter which gastrointestinal problems you experience, your intestinal flora has been compromised. You need to build back up your gut flora by taking gut health supplements. The best chance successfully figuring how to get rid of bad bacteria in the gut is to test the intestinal flora in there.
With the Thryve Gut Health Program, we send you a gut test kit to perform in the privacy of your own bathroom. Just collect a tiny sample from toilet tissue with the sterile swabs we provide. Swirl the swab in the vial with preservative we supply and mail in the discreet, self-stamped envelope enclosed with the gut test.
Based on the results, we formulate personalized probiotics supplements targeted to fight off the harmful stomach bacteria. With continued use of personalized probiotics supplements, these beneficial gut flora will colonize your system. In turn, your gastrointestinal problems may become more tolerable.


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[1] Canavan, C., West, J., & Card, T. (2014). The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Clinical epidemiology, 6, 71–80. doi:10.2147/CLEP.S40245.
[2] “CDC -What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)? – Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Division of Population Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
[3] “Ulcerative Colitis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Mar. 2018,
[4] “Learn the Facts About Crohn’s Disease.” Crohn’s and Colitis,
[5] Kiela, P. R., & Ghishan, F. K. (2016). Physiology of Intestinal Absorption and Secretion. Best practice & research. Clinical gastroenterology, 30(2), 145–159. doi:10.1016/j.bpg.2016.02.007.

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