Bacterial overgrowth (where there is an increase in the
numbers of certain "unwanted" bacteria and a decrease
in the numbers of normal "friendly" bacteria in
the small intestine) is rarely an entity in itself. Although
it does occur, there is usually an underlying disease process
that allows this upset in the bacterial balance. Thus, treating
the bacterial problem alone will often not get to the root
cause of the problem.
I therefore immediately ran extensive blood tests on Simba,
and took biopsies from his bowel lining by means of an endoscope
- a flexible fibreoptic cable that allows us to look down
into the bowels.
Sure enough, Simba was diagnosed as having severe inflammatory
bowel disease(IBD) - a common condition where there is inflammation
in the lining layers of the gut, which prevent normal absorption
of nutrients into the body, and also allows certain important
proteins to leak out from the blood and be lost into the
It is believed that IBD may be triggered by a dietary allergy,
so the patient is usually given a hypoallergenic diet, but
often also needs high doses of corticosteroids and sometimes
additional drugs to suppress this over-exuberant response
that the body's immune system is having within the bowel
Corticosteroids can have adverse effects such as increasing
the chance of developing diabetes, increasing susceptibility
to infection and causing weight gain. However, in cases
such as these, they are crucial to controlling the disease.
Two months after starting treatment, Simba is full of beans
and looking a picture of health. I am now trying to taper
down his dose of corticosteroids to as low a dose as possible.
He is back to enjoying going to work every day with his
owner in his van.
Fortunately (for all concerned!) the horrendous diarrhoea
he had has completely resolved. After spending around £1000
to get Simba right his owner said to me last week
"I've been in the building trade for 40 years, and
I know that you get what you pay for. I don't mind spending
the money if the job is done properly".
I'll try to bear that in mind as I get in quotes for my
Young BVSc CertSAM MRCVS
to "Interesting Cases"
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