What is Dysbiosis?

Our bodies are full of good bacteria called microbiota. Most of these bacteria promote the health of our body and contribute to its natural process. However, when the population of these bacteria is disrupted, it can cause dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is a result of imbalance of bacteria found in your digestive system including the stomach and intestines. This condition causes mild stomach upsets which your body can rectify without any treatment. In case the symptoms are painful, you will need treatment1, 3, 4.


Normally the digestive system is made up of many species of microorganisms. These microorganisms are either harmless or harmful and they form gut flora or gut microorganisms. The good bacteria that support digestion and maintain the intestines are classified as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria.

Digestive disorder is a common problem globally and many people suffer from imbalances in the digestive system. Studies show that women are more likely to have digestive disorders than men.

Causes of Dysbiosis

A number of factors can cause dysbiosis such as 2, 4


Consuming a poor diet can cause dysbiosis. Eating high protein foods, low fiber foods, high sugary foods and processed foods slow down the contraction of gut muscles. These foods may also lack the essential nutrients to support and repair your digestive system. Candida, a type of yeast which thrives well in sugary and processed foods can disrupt the balance of microorganism in your digestive system leading to dysbiosis.

Environmental factors

Factors in the environment such as chemicals and eating contaminated foods can also cause dysbiosis. In some cases, you can accidentally eat food that contains chemicals or those that have not been washed properly. These foods may have microorganisms which will disrupt the balance of microbiota in your body thus leading to dysbiosis. Other environmental factors such a presence of fungi at home or living in a wet or foggy place can expose you to microorganisms that can enter your digestive system and cause an imbalance of microbiota.


Leading a stressful life will elevate your hormone levels. This interferes with your immune system thus rendering it weak in defending the body against infections and foreign organisms and materials. An impaired immune system will make you prone to dysbiosis.


Use of certain medications can make you have dysbiosis. For instance antacids have been used to prevent production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Hydrochloric acid defends your body against microorganisms that enter the digestive food system through the food you eat. In case this acid is blocked, your body will not be able to defend itself against harmful microorganisms. Other drugs that block the growth of good microorganisms include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. An overuse of this drug can increase the population of unfriendly microorganisms which lead to dysbiosis.

Apart from the above medications, use of antibiotics meant to eliminate bacteria in your body can also contribute to dysbiosis. Antibiotics can kill the harmless bacteria in your body thus creating an imbalance in microorganism population. Prescribing antibiotics more than ones can lead to resistance in which the drugs cannot kill the microorganism and hence are not effective in treating bacterial infection.

Symptoms of Dysbiosis

Dysbiosis have many signs and symptoms such as1, 2, 3

  • You may experience weight loss or gain as a result of poor absorption of essential nutrients in the body. You will experience repetitive digestive problems such as bloating, constipation, pain in the abdomen, heartburn, diarrhea and presence of undigested food in the bowel. You may also become intolerant or sensitive to certain foods coupled with allergic reaction.
  • For women, you may feel itching around your vagina. Both men and women can have decreased libido and fertility. You may also experience problems in your bladder and cracked fingernails. In some cases, you may have congestion in the sinus and experience mental problems.

Diagnosis of Dysbiosis

Your health professional will carefully study your symptoms and health history to get as much information as possible to diagnose dysbiosis. Your health professional will conduct the following tests in order to diagnose this condition:1, 4

Organic acid test

This test is done to determine the types of acid bacteria thrive in. In this test, your health professional takes a sample of your urine and analyses it in the laboratory. If the test results are normal, it means that bacteria balance is well. If the results are abnormal, the bacteria population has been disrupted.

Hydrogen breathe test

In this test, your health professional will give you a certain solution to drink and breathe into a specific balloon. The air collected in the balloon can be analyzed for gases released by bacteria. The presence of gases may indicate an imbalance in bacteria.

Comprehensive digestive stool analysis (CDSA)

In this test, you will be required to collect your stool and take it to the laboratory for analysis. Your health professional will analyze a sample of your stool for yeast, fungus, virus and bacteria. The test results can help inform your doctor if the microorganisms are out of balance or not.


In some cases, your health professional can take a sample of the affected tissues and analyze them for bacteria.

Treatment for Dysbiosis

Treatment for dysbiosis will involve a mix of medications and dietary changes depending on the underlying causes. In case medications are the cause of microorganism imbalance in your body, your health professional will advise you to stop using those drugs.1, 3, 4

The following are treatment options that can be used to cure dysbiosis:


Your health professional can recommend certain drugs to cure dysbiosis infections. These drugs include ciprofloxacin, rifaximin and septrin

Dietary changes

In case your diet is the cause of microorganism imbalance in your body, your health professional can help you come up with a diet plan. Your health professional can suggest the following nutrients to help maintain the balance of microorganism in your body: calcium, magnesium, vitamins B 12, zinc and beta-carotene.

You can include the following foods to your diet:

  • Fresh meat
  • Fish especially salmon
  • Spinach and kales

You should avoid the following foods because they cause an imbalance in the gut microorganism:

  • Processed food such as canned or salted meat
  • Food high in sugar
  • Dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt

You can also take supplements such as probiotics to maintain the balance of microorganisms in your body.

Complications of Dysbiosis

If dysbiosis if left untreated for a long time, it will cause the following:1

  • Cancer in your rectum or large intestine
  • Skin condition such as eczema
  • Obesity
  • Inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • colitis
  • fungal infections
  • liver diseases.

Reference List

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/dysbiosis#complications7
  2. https://www.crohns.net/miva/education/dysbiosis.shtml
  3. https://www.diagnose-me.com/symptoms-of/bacterial-dysbiosis.php
  4. Dysbiosis. http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/health-articles/dysbiosis-microbial-imbalance/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysbiosis
  6. https://blog.kettleandfire.com/gut-dysbiosis/
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/dysbiosis
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4315779/
  9. www.therootofhealth.com/dysbiosis/

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