One in three people who take antibiotics gets diarrhea, but research has found probiotics may reduce the risk of suffering from that particular unpleasant side effect.
One of the most well-researched aspects of probiotics is the effect it has on the gut, and specifically diarrhea symptoms. In a 2012 look at numerous studies on antibiotics and probiotics, researchers determined that people who took probiotics at the same time they took antibiotics were 42 percent less likely to have diarrhea as a side effect, WebMD said
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"By affecting good bacteria, as well as bad, antibiotics can disrupt the delicate microbial balance in the intestines, but the live microorganisms marketed as probiotics can help restore this balance to reduce diarrhea risk," the website said.
"The good news is that a lot of extremely high-quality research is going on now," gastrointestinal disease researcher Eamonn Quigley, MD, of Ireland's University College Cork, told WebMD. "Up until now, most of the noise about probiotics has been generated by marketing, but it may soon be generated by the science."
Antibiotic-associated diarrhea, or AAD, can be a significant side effect for some people, and U.S. News & World Report pointed out
that it even can allow a disease-causing strain of bacteria, Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, to proliferate in the gut. C.diff infections can be dangerous to patients, and particularly people with immune problems.
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"Some experts hypothesize that even in cases where antibiotics do not cause noticeable GI symptoms, the ecological changes they precipitate in the gut can have adverse effects on longer-term health," the news organization reported.
Specific probiotic strains have been shown to be more effective for treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea, primarily Saccharomyces boulardii lyo and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, World Report writer Tamera Duker Freuman said. Keep in mind that eating more yogurt or other foods that contain probiotics probably won't make the dosage high enough to help fight off AAD.
"Doses, measured in colony-forming units, vary widely by product," she wrote. "Many products contain only about 1 or 1.5 billion CFUs, and some have even fewer. Others contain 5 to 10 billion CFUs per dose ... and some premium products may have doses in the hundreds of millions of CFUs. Available research examining probiotics to AAD in children suggests doses should be greater than or equal to 5 billion CFUs. Guidelines for optimal doses in adults have not yet been established."
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