Taking antibiotics is sometimes necessary, especially for life-threating infections. Taking probiotics with antibiotics can be beneficial in many ways.
While antibiotics are busy killing off bacterial infections, they also do damage to gut flora by killing off beneficial bacteria in the process, according to an article by registered dietitian Tamara Duker Freuman for U.S. News and World Report
. When too many good bacteria are killed off, strains of harmful bacteria have a chance to gain a foothold in the intestines.
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One consequence is antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD), which can be life-threatening. Taking a probiotic supplement during antibiotic treatment can help prevent AAD or make it less severe. In fact, a review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and cited by WebMD
says that of people taking antibiotics, those who also took probiotics were 42 percent less likely to develop AAD.
U.S. News and World Report cautions that taking any random probiotics to treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea makes as much sense as taking random vitamin supplements to treat a specific vitamin deficiency. You need to be sure you are getting the right kind of beneficial bacteria for your needs.
For AAD, taking Saccharomyces boulardii lyo (Florastar) is most effective, says Freuman. It is a yeast, not a bacterium, so it will not be killed off by antibiotics. Another strain that is proven effective for diarrhea, she says, is Lactobacillus rhamnosus GC (Culturelle).
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In addition to the possibility of AAD, antibiotic treatments can also be problematic for women because they can promote an overgrowth of Candida, which results in vaginal yeast infections. In these cases, a vaginal suppository containing live Lactobacillus acidophilus used twice daily can help combat the yeast infections, explains Livestrong
Probiotics are generally considered safe, however, when taking them in combination with antibiotics, it is best to not take them at exactly the same time. The National Institutes of Health recommends taking the antibiotic and probiotic supplement two hours apart and ensuring you get at least 1 billion live cells divided into two doses each day.
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