Strengthen Your Gut When Taking Antibiotics

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Taking a Probiotic with Antibiotics Can Help Prevent Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea

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the strongest evidence for the role of living organisms in the treatment of AAD comes from randomized, controlled clinical trials involving the probiotic yeast S. boulardii.

October marks the start of cold and flu season, and, with that, bacterial infections such as strep throat, etc., that require antibiotics. So it's fitting that this month is designated as National "Talk About Prescriptions" Month by the National Council on Patient Information and Education.

Yet, while antibiotics are needed to treat bacterial illnesses, they often come with intestinal side effects for many people. A Harris Interactive poll (1) among adult Americans aged 18 and older found that one in five people taking antibiotics will end up with antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) - a severe, often debilitating diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration.

If you're an AAD sufferer, there are things you can do to help protect your gut. First, only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary. According to the Food & Drug Administration, about half of the 100 million antibiotic prescriptions issued by U.S. physicians are unnecessary; antibiotics are good for bacterial infections only, and are completely ineffective against viruses (such as the common cold or, even, the flu).

Second, if you require a course of antibiotics, take a probiotic at the same time. According to a report in Consumer Reports on Health, taking probiotics during antibiotic treatment can reduce the incidence of AAD by up to 60 percent.

One probiotic in particular, Saccharomyces boulardii, or S. boulardii, has been clinically shown to help treat and prevent AAD by keeping the intestines colonized with protective flora, stopping harmful bacteria from taking over and neutralizing toxins. In the book The Power of Probiotics (Haworth Press 2007), researchers Lynne McFarland, Ph.D. and Gary Elmer, Ph.D., report that "the strongest evidence for the role of living organisms in the treatment of AAD comes from randomized, controlled clinical trials involving the probiotic yeast S. boulardii." (2)    

Other probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus GG and Bifidobacteria have also been used to treat AAD, however, these are bacterial-based probiotics and can also be killed off by the antibiotics. Doctors recommend the yeast-based S. boulardii, instead, which, as a yeast, won't be killed off by the antibiotics.

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1This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus service on behalf of Florastor® between December 15 to 19, 2006, among 2,313 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for region, age within gender, education, household income and race/ethnicity were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

2 The Power of Probiotics: Improving Your Health With Beneficial Microbes, by Gary W. Elmer, Ph.D., Lynne V. McFarland, Ph.D. and Marc McFarland (Haworth Press 2007), pg. 79.


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Christina Occhipinti
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