What Is the Difference Between SIBO And SIFO

Though I’m comparing these two ailments I have already written on SIBO in another article you can read here. I will still give you a brief definition of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).  It is an increased number of bacteria that takes over the gut system. This creates an imbalance of good and bad bacteria.

SIFO ( small intestinal fungal overgrowth ) means the gut has been outnumbered by bad microbes. The overgrowth takes place in the small intestine. When fungi overpower good microbes in the gut, it causes havoc in the gastrointestinal system.

People who have low immune systems are likely to be affected the most, but also research has shown that it can cause problems even among healthy people as well.

Here are the common symptoms for both SIBO and SIFO

  • Gas
  • Bloating                        
  • Abdominal pain     
  • Nause
  • Belching
  • Indigestion

Because they have similar symptoms SIFO is mistaken for SIBO as many are familiar with SIBO. This leads to many misdiagnoses. The research done on SIFO is very limited and many people don’t understand the role fungi play in our guts. 

They are microorganisms that contribute to a healthy microbiome, like bacteria and others. The tell signs you have SIFO are white coating on the tongue (thrush), itchy anus, and toenail fungus.

How do you test for SIBO and SIFO?

The most popular way to test for SIBO has been the breath test or lactulose test as it may be known to others. This measures hydrogen and methane gases produced in the intestine by the bacteria.

The SIFO test is an invasive procedure needing the doctor to put a tube down the stomach and into the duodenum which is the first part of the small intestine. Endoscopy is the procedure done to collect specimens to do the testing of SIFO.

Are Candida and SIFO the same?  

Could be because one is from the other and here is what I mean but SIFO is fungal overgrowth and Candida is a type of fungus. So SIFO is a result of Candida but also there are many other fungi that are found in the gut and can cause SIFO

for example,  Galactomyces, Geotrichum, Debaryomces, Saprochaete, Cladosporium, Saprochaete, Cladosporium, Saccharomyces, Trichosporon, Penicillium, Aspergillus, Cryptococcus, Malassezi

Causes of SIFO

Excessive use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI ) is one huge problem

These are medications prescribed to help with acid reflux. But instead makes the matters worse by reducing the HCL acid needed to assist with digestion. The likely hood of you getting both SIBO and SIFO increases because digestion is slowed due to low HCL. The residue of food sits longer and sticks to the gastric walls creating a perfect environment for SIBO and SIFO to flourish and conquer.

Overuse antibiotics

Antibiotic use has been found to favor the overgrowth of both fungi and bacteria because it wipes out all good and bad microbes with discrimination. That’s the very thing that’s supposed to get rid of the problem but causes more harm than good, is that bizarre?

Medications such as prednisone and the like

Are supposed to help with inflammation but along the way, they make the body become susceptible to infections such as SIBO and SIFO.


This is when part of the colon is removed, this can increase the chances of getting SIBO and SIFO overgrowth because proper digestion doesn’t occur.

What  treatments for SIBO and SIFO

There are different approaches to their treatments. A common way of treating SIBO is the aggressive use of antibiotics. This somehow relieves the annoying symptoms that come with SIBO.

Yet, with SIFO, antibiotics won’t work so it’s important to know which one you have to get the right treatment. One of the biggest culprits for SIFO is Candida which makes up about 97% of SIFO as mentioned in this study

SIFO can not be eradicated using one remedy, you might need several approaches to heal, here are some of them.

  • Antifungal medication like nystatin can be used. But sometimes might not even work due to the acidity of the stomach. The medicine is hard to reach where the infection is ( small intestine).
  • Studies have shown probiotics to be a better treatment. Especially Lactobacillus acidophilus does a better job for fungus infection
  • Candida diet – Fungus thrives on a diet that’s full of refined sugars. Even natural fruits like bananas and mangos can be detrimental. Lactose in milk is one of the worst sugar so it’s best to go lactose-free
  • Refraining from grains also helps with fungal overgrowth.
  • Poor or slow-moving food in the gut matters as this encourages fungal overgrowth. Spending time chewing will aid in food breakdown. Making digestion easy for the intestine to do its job.
  • It’s important to give space between meals to allow emptying of the previous meal before overloading your system. Waiting 4-5 hours without eating but only drinking water helps the small intestine to wash away food that’s stuck to its walls. This prevents overgrowth.
  • Also, exercise helps with digestion. the more active you are the better the transit time.
  • Increase low stomach acid by taking an HCL (Hydrochloric acid) supplement which helps with digestion. Always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements
  • Digestive enzymes – They ease the digestion of food, helping in emptying the gut quicker.
  • Apple cider vinegar- Everyone has access to ( ACV) and it’s known to increase stomach acid and has fewer side effects than HCL

    Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)


SIBO and SIFO are due to an abnormal increase of bacteria or fungi that take over the digestive system. Resulting in damage to the gut with symptoms that are painful and at times unbearable. If no steps are taken to treat them, they can lead to inflammation or full-blown autoimmune diseases like  Leaky gut, Crohn’s, and many others.

It is tricky to differentiate between SIBO and SIFO since they almost have similar symptoms. Also sometimes SIBO can turn into SIFO if the right method of treatment is not used. It is important to stop any more damage both bacterial and fungal overgrowth. 

 By following the right process of treatment using both conventional and functional medicine.  As well as making sure a healthy diet, exercising, spacing the time of food consumption, and drinking more water are included in the healing methods. This approach can make all the difference for an individual to be healthy and happy again.


  1. Small intestinal fungal overgrowth – PubMed (nih.gov)
  2. Full article: Fungi in the healthy human gastrointestinal tract (tandfonline.com)
  3. The Spectrum of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) – PubMed (nih.gov)
  4. Are probiotics effective in the treatment of fungal colonization of the gastrointestinal tract? Experimental and clinical studies – PubMed (nih.gov)
  5. Sa2026 Small Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth (SIFO): A Cause of Gastrointestinal Symptoms (gastrojournal.org)
  6. S3304 How Useful Is Duodenal Aspirate and Culture for Diagno… : Official journal of the American College of Gastroenterology | ACG (lww.com)
  7. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth – PMC (nih.gov)
  8. Fungi in the healthy human gastrointestinal tract – PMC (nih.gov)

Leave a Comment