Leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which the small intestine becomes irritated and inflamed, causing undigested microbes, gluten, and toxins to leak into the bloodstream. Although not currently recognized by most Western medical doctors, the ailment is receiving increasing attention from naturopaths and practitioners of holistic and complementary medicine. Doctors believe ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medications could be potential triggers of intestinal irritation. Alcohol consumption is often cited as a possible cause of the syndrome too. Some medical conditions have been noted as probable risk factors for leaky gut syndrome. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are also believed to increase a patient's risk of the ailment. No specific tests can diagnose this syndrome. Doctors may rely on findings from a physical examination and blood tests.
Probiotic supplements are among the effective options for leaky gut syndrome treatment. Many patients will need to follow a special diet for leaky gut syndrome. Options for this include a low-sugar diet, a low-FODMAP diet, and a gluten-free diet. Evidence shows that exercise is also a great treatment for leaky gut syndrome. Patients may also need to avoid taking antibiotics. Of course, patients must understand the symptoms of leaky gut syndrome first to receive the appropriate treatment.
Chronic Diarrhea Or Constipation
Leaky gut syndrome patients may notice they have chronic diarrhea or constipation. These symptoms can cause significant pain, and they might cause malnutrition and changes in weight. They can also disrupt daily activities, and affected individuals may need to stay home from work or school if symptoms become severe. Chronic diarrhea and constipation can have a variety of minor and more serious causes. Thus, it is especially important for patients experiencing either to see a gastroenterologist for a formal evaluation. The gastroenterologist will ask about the duration and nature of the patient's symptoms, what remedies the patient has tried, and if anything has led to an improvement.
After taking the patient's health history, the doctor will examine the patient's abdomen. They will check for any masses or areas of pain, and it may also be necessary to order imaging studies. Patients may be advised to make changes to the amount of fiber in their diets. In addition, medications can be prescribed to reduce the frequency of both diarrhea and constipation. If constipation is severe, affected individuals may need enemas or surgery to remove impacted feces.
Chronic Gas Or Bloating
The chronic gas or bloating sometimes experienced by individuals with leaky gut syndrome can be debilitating. Patients with bloating may notice it is most prominent within the half-hour after a meal, and it can take days to resolve. The bloating may feel like a very uncomfortable fullness over the entire abdominal area or concentrated in the lower abdomen. Bloating may cause appetite loss and could make eating painful. Individuals who have chronic gas could also experience pain, and they may be unable to eat certain foods. Since both of these symptoms can significantly impact a patient's quality of life, it is recommended that a medical evaluation be conducted to establish the underlying cause.
If necessary, prescription medications are available to reduce gas and bloating. Some of these are taken daily, and others can be taken just before a meal to ease symptoms. Since bloating could be a sign of several types of cancer, individuals who notice this symptom for more than three weeks should see a doctor promptly. This is necessary in cases where the bloating is persistent and in instances where it comes and goes.
Deficiencies In Nutrition
Anecdotal evidence from holistic doctors suggests leaky gut syndrome could lead to deficiencies in nutrition. These deficiencies could be caused or exacerbated by the diarrhea and constipation patients may experience. They may also be produced by other factors not currently understood. The most common nutritional deficiencies observed in leaky gut syndrome are deficiencies in vitamin B12 and magnesium. Some practitioners have also noted cases where leaky gut syndrome resulted in deficiencies in digestive enzymes such as lactase.
To correct these deficiencies, doctors frequently recommend for patients to take a whole-food multivitamin and probiotics. Individuals may also wish to increase their dietary intake of vitamin B12 and magnesium to help with symptom control. Vitamin B12 is added to many non-dairy milk products. It is also found in nutritional yeast and some fruit smoothies. Foods high in magnesium include spinach, tuna, lima beans, and pumpkin seeds.
Weakened Immune System
Over time, leaky gut syndrome could result in a weakened immune system in previously healthy patients. Cancer patients and others with compromised immune systems could experience further reductions in the strength of their immune systems too. Individuals with this symptom are more likely to acquire infections, including more frequent colds, sore throats, and upper respiratory infections. These individuals are less likely to be able to fight off influenza effectively.
In addition, conditions that would be minor for those with healthy immune systems could be very serious or potentially fatal for those with weakened immune systems. Patients in this situation should check with their healthcare team about situations they may need to avoid to reduce their risk of infection. They should ensure they are up to date on any necessary vaccinations.
Sugar And Carbohydrate Cravings
Sugar and carbohydrate cravings are common for patients with leaky gut syndrome. These cravings may occur due to the nutrient absorption, digestion issues, and nutrient deficiencies associated with this syndrome. Patients may notice they have unusual cravings for high-carbohydrate foods such as bread or pasta. It is especially common to crave high-sugar foods, including ice cream, doughnuts, and chocolate. Some patients have noticed intense cravings for salty foods as well.
Patients may want to use distraction techniques to effectively manage cravings and prevent potential weight gain. Most cravings pass in fifteen minutes, and it could be beneficial to watch television, take a walk, check emails, or read a book for the fifteen minutes immediately after a craving occurs. Keeping a journal of the times and dates of cravings could be beneficial as well. Individuals who experience frequent cravings may want to consider having blood tests to check for potential vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Consultations with a psychologist could help the patient reduce their cravings.
Leaky gut syndrome causes many bacteria and toxins to leak into an individual’s body. The result of this is increased inflammation. One of the symptoms that comes from this is an increase in headache. Headaches often vary in the way that they feel. In the case of leaky gut syndrome, most patients are likely to experience dull and throbbing pain in their head. It is often constant pain as well, rather than pain that disappears and returns. Leaky gut syndrome headaches make it difficult for patients to concentrate. This can make the headaches transition to brain fog.
Energy is used to keep the individual’s body functioning. However, an individual’s body uses significant amounts of energy when it is fighting an infection or other foreign invader. Unfortunately, patients often feel extremely fatigued as a result of this. Fatigue develops as a symptom of leaky gut syndrome due to the bacteria in the patient’s blood and body. This is quite common, as gut health and fatigue are closely linked. Thus, fatigue is a symptom of many other conditions that affect the gut and digestion, including Crohn’s disease. This also means that leaky gut syndrome cannot be diagnosed off fatigue alone, and other symptoms must be present.
Leaky gut syndrome carries a variety of skin problems as symptoms. Examples of skin problems that patients may encounter in this condition include eczema, rosacea, and acne. All of these skin problems can develop for many different reasons. However, in the case of leaky gut syndrome, evidence indicates that patients will deal with skin issues due to the widespread inflammation in their body.
Signs of eczema include dry skin, itchiness, and red, scaly patches. Another skin issue that can develop as a sign of leaky gut syndrome, rosacea, appears with facial redness, sensitive skin, and red bumps. Patients can receive treatment for these skin problems, though they will also need to treat leaky gut syndrome to avoid the problems from worsening.
As discussed, significant inflammation in leaky gut syndrome is the trigger for many of the more visible symptoms. Unfortunately, this is also why patients may not initially think about inflammation as a sign of leaky gut syndrome. In addition, individuals may not be aware of what constitutes inflammation in the first place. The signs of significant inflammation include pain, redness, swelling, and areas being warm to the touch. Many patients also deal with swelling as a part of inflammation. There are also quieter symptoms of inflammation, including when leaky gut syndrome is the cause. These signs include feeling unwell, fatigue, and a fever.
Inflammation is, once again, the reason behind this symptom of leaky gut syndrome. Increased inflammation in this condition can include inflammation in the patient’s joints. This is particularly common when individuals are predisposed to joint inflammation. Unfortunately, joint inflammation also results in another significant warning sign of leaky gut syndrome, which is joint pain. Research claims that many individuals with pain in their joints that is not explained by another cause, such as rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune condition, often actually have leaky gut syndrome. Thus, this means that they cannot rely on pain medication to treat their joint pain forever. Instead, to relieve the pain in their joints on a long-term basis, they must consider their gut health and treat the underlying issue.