Probiotics Fight Diarrhea Caused by Antibiotics and Much More
Good bacteria, or probiotics, have been shown to come to the rescue again. If you or your family suffer with diarrhea caused by antibiotics, probiotics may prevent or reduce the risk of diarrhea that so often accompanies use of these drugs. And there’s more good news as well.
How probiotics fight diarrhea
Antibiotics are prescribed for scores of different health problems, and although they can be effective in ridding the body of infections, they also are associated with diarrhea. Developing diarrhea along with an infection can not only be uncomfortable and bothersome, but also life-threatening in some people, especially the very young, the elderly, and anyone who has a compromised immune system.
Experts who reviewed 23 studies (involving 4,213 children and adults) of the impact of probiotics along with antibiotic use found that the beneficial bacteria were helpful in reducing the occurrence of diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile, a common type of diarrhea that is a challenge and costly to treat. Patients who received probiotics had fewer adverse events than those in the placebo groups.
Overall, 2 percent of patients who took probiotics developed diarrhea associated with C. difficile compared with 6 percent of patients in the placebo groups. Bradley Johnston, of The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto, and the study’s lead researcher, noted that “In the short-term, taking probiotics in conjunction with antibiotics appears to be a safe and effective way of preventing diarrhea associated with Clostridium difficile infection.”
In other words, the results of the study indicate that use of probiotics along with antibiotics can reduce the chances of developing diarrhea associated with C. difficile by 64 percent.
But use of probiotics can also help with numerous other health challenges.
Probiotics to the rescue, again
You can call upon the assistance of probiotics if you experience other health problems as well. Here are a few of those troublesome conditions.
- Irritable bowel syndrome. Also referred to as IBS, irritable bowel syndrome involves inflammation of the intestinal tract, which causes pain, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Use of probiotics has been shown to reverse the inhibition of a substance called inflammasome, which is necessary to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines.
- Diabetes. The population of bacteria in the gut have a significant effect on how the body utilizes nutrients and produces energy. The authors of a recent study reported that “changing the gut microbiotia (with prebiotics and/or probiotics) may participate in the control of the development of metabolic diseases [and that includes diabetes] associated with obesity.”
- Eczema. Research indicates that among children with eczema (which affects up to 20% of this population), use of probiotics can provide significant relief from moderate to severe cases of the inflammatory skin disease. One study, in fact, reported that daily use of probiotics reduced the risk of eczema by 58 percent during the first two years of life.
- Common cold. The common cold affects people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. Studies show that use of probiotics significantly reduced respiratory infections among one-month-old infants who took probiotics daily, while a review of 10 studies found that the beneficial bacteria had a modest positive impact on common cold symptoms.
- Ulcers: A probiotic strain called Bifidobacterium bifidum was nearly 100 percent effective against the bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) that cause duodenal and gastric ulcers. Children who had gastritis and peptic ulcer disease associated with H. pylori were treated effectively with this probiotic.
- Celiac disease. When individuals ingest foods that contain gluten, which they cannot tolerate, probiotics may come to the rescue. Research indicates that probiotics and prebiotics (nondigestible food fibers abundant in root vegetables and other foods) can be helpful for people with celiac disease.
Beneficial bacteria are available in some foods, such as yogurt, kefir, and fermented items such as sauerkraut, although they are commonly taken as a supplement. Probiotics are a natural approach to management of numerous common health problems, including diarrhea associated with antibiotic use and other conditions that affect people of all ages.
Ahmad K et al. Probiotics for the treatment of pediatric helicobacter pylori infection: a randomized double blind clinical trial. Iran Journal of Pediatrics 2013 Feb; 23(1): 79-84
Goldenberg JZ et al. Probiotics for the prevention of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea in adults and children. The Cochrane Library 2013 May. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD006095.pub3
Kang EJ et al. The effect of probiotics on prevention of common cold: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trial studies. Korean Journal of Family Medicine 2013 Jan; 34(1): 2-10
Sun Y et al. Stress-induced corticotropin-releasing hormone-mediated NLRPG inflammasome inhibition and transmissible enteritis in mice. Gastroenterology 2013 Mar 4.