Probiotics decreases diarrhea during antibiotic therapy

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that the use of probiotics is effective in reducing the incidence of diarrhea in patients taking antibiotics. The study, sponsored by the RAND Institute (USA), showed that the incidence of diarrhea was 42% lower in those who ingested probiotics.

According to multiple studies, at least 30% of patients treated with antibiotics suffer from diarrhea. This side effect is one of the main reasons that leads patients to discontinue use of their medication before completing the entire prescription, thus impairing treatment.

 Dr. Sydne J. Newberry, co-author of the study, notes that in recent years, several other studies have been carried out to help understand the role of probiotics in the prevention and treatment of antibiotic side effects, and the present study represents a collective review of multiple previous studies, with the goal of obtaining a better overall conclusion.

Newberry emphasized the need for future research, especially to learn if there are types of probiotics more effective in preventing diarrhea or if the use of probiotics themselves might cause negative health effects.

 More about probiotics

The term probiotic, derived from the Greek, means “pro-life”. Today the term is used to name living microorganisms given to humans and animals, hopefully with beneficial effects. Probiotics are present in some yogurts, and can also be obtained in food supplements. In large and small intestines, they help regulate peristalsis (contractions of the intestines) and stimulate the synthesis of vitamins, as well as help balance the various types of bacteria that normally inhabit the intestines.

In recent years, research as well as consumption of probiotics has increased substantially, accompanied by increasing clinical evidence to support that they are beneficial. Probiotics have demonstrated efficacy, particularly in the treatment of acute diarrhea due to rotavirus in “pouchitis” (inflammation of the pouch created in some intestinal surgeries), and to combat inflammatory bowel diseases.

Among the most commonly used probiotics are bacteria from the family Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and a nonpathogenic yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii. When you buy yogurt, and particularly when you are taking antibiotics, you should check the bottle or cup carefully to see if it contains some of those probiotics, and take them daily the entire time you are taking antibiotics.

The medical specialty that cares for the health of the digestive system is Gastroenterology. To find a gastroenterologist, you can use our site ( It’s fast, easy and no cost.

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