Menu

What Is Dysbiosis?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 09, 2021

In your gut, there are trillions of microorganisms that make up your gut microbiome. Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to many bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This isn’t a bad thing, though. All of these microorganisms keep your gut healthy. When they’re out of balance, dysbiosis happens. 

How Does Dysbiosis Happen?

When your gut health gets imbalanced and dysbiosis happens, you’re more likely to have stomach and other health conditions. These conditions include: 

Your gut is more vulnerable to diseases and other health conditions when it’s in dysbiosis. Changes to your gut microbiome, also called your gut flora, may occur because the different organisms in your gut are not at the right levels. Another reason is that the flora has different functions or their production has changed. 

When your gut microbiome loses its diversity of bacteria, it can increase your risk of getting a chronic disease. The increased risk could also be related to your age. As you get older, your gut microbiome might not be well connected with your GI tract and immune system.

Importance of Gut Health

A healthy gut plays an important role in protecting your GI tract. To have a healthy microbiome, you should have protective and harmful bacteria. This balance keeps your GI tract working properly. The right amount of bacteria in your flora helps regulate bacteria. 

Once this falls out of sync, you may experience stomach problems, which could lead to other health conditions. 

Types of Dysbiosis

There are three types of dysbiosis. In most cases, you can have all three types of dysbiosis. This is not uncommon. These types of dysbiosis include:

Type 1. This form of dysbiosis is caused when you lose good bacteria from your gut. 

Type 2. When you have too much growth of harmful bacteria in your stomach, this type of dysbiosis occurs. 

Type 3. Dysbiosis can also happen when you lose your overall gut microbiome diversity. This means you lose both the good and the bad bacteria in your stomach. 

Your doctor will be able to help you get your gut health back on track.

Effect of Dysbiosis on Health

When your body is in dysbiosis, your health may decline. From mild effects like cramps, diarrhea, and constipation to more serious chronic conditions, your gut microbiome affects how you overcome the problems. Symptoms of dysbiosis include: 

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Digestive problems
  • Trouble urinating
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Vaginal or rectal infections or itching
  • Food intolerance, gas, and bloating
  • Inflammation and aching joints
  • Acne, skin rashes, and psoriasis
  • ADHD or issues with concentration
  • Anxiety or depression

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than a few days, you should see a doctor. The longer your gut is in dysbiosis, the more trouble you might have with chronic illness. Your doctor should see you if you’ve also had IBS, gastroenteritis, or food poisoning recently and are experiencing these problems.

Dysbiosis-Related Diseases

Dysbiosis can cause a range of chronic illnesses and conditions. These conditions include but aren’t limited to: 

If you think you’re experiencing any of these conditions, you should talk to your doctor immediately to treat the underlying condition. It can be difficult to diagnose dysbiosis as the root cause of some of these conditions, especially with conditions like autism. Your doctor will help you with the right next steps for you or your child. 

Understanding IBD and Dysbiosis

IBD is an intestinal condition that causes inflammation in your GI tract. This is a common condition that affects millions of people in the U.S. Studies have shown that dysbiosis is connected with IBD. Studies show that when your gut microbiome is out of balance, you may be more likely to have stomach problems. 

When your gut microbiome is affected by IBD or other gastrointestinal conditions, it can be hard to get the right balance in your GI tract again. That's why you will need a doctor to prescribe the right antibiotics or probiotic treatment. The treatment will depend on what type of dysbiosis you're in, and if you're experiencing multiple types. 

If you are having stomach problems or experiencing the symptoms above you should talk to your doctor. They'll be able to help you diagnose the underlying cause of your condition, which could typically lead to dysbiosis.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Gastroenterology: “Aging, frailty, and the Microbiome - How Dysbiosis Influences Human Aging and Disease.”

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: “Current understanding of dysbiosis in disease in human and animal models.”

NIH: “Microbiome and Gut Dysbiosis.”

Scientific Reports: “Defining Dysbiosis for a Cluster of Chronic Diseases.”

The Good Gut: “What is Gut Dysbiosis and How is it Caused?”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.