Probiotics are naturally occurring organisms found throughout the human body that help with various functions. They are plentiful in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and are sometimes referred to as “normal flora” or “good bacteria”. These good bacteria help absorb nutrients, break down food, and prevent bad bacteria from growing; generally helping to maintain a healthy GI system.
In addition to being naturally occurring in our bodies, probiotics can also be found in certain foods, such as yogurt, cheese, or sauerkraut; as well as in supplements. The use of probiotics by consumers is increasing rapidly due to a number of health benefits they may have. There is good evidence to support their use in antibiotic-associated diarrhea, which is where the most use of probiotic products is seen. Other uses include rotaviral diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), infantile necrotizing enterocolitis, and for preventing respiratory tract infections; though these latter uses are much less supported.
When a person is prescribed an antibiotic, the antibiotic in intended to eliminate the bad bacteria causing the infection; but, this can also kill off some good bacteria, which can then lead to further bad bacterial growth. Probiotics can help the antibiotic fight off the bad bacteria and also replenish the supply of good bacteria in the GI tract, preventing more bad bacteria from growing. Clostridium difficile (C.diff) is one bad bacterium that can cause diarrhea after antibiotic use. Probiotics seem to be effective in treating this type of diarrhea as well. Because of this benefit, many doctors will recommend starting a probiotic along with an antibiotic. It is recommended to take the probiotic once daily at least 2 hours after the antibiotic dose and to continue it for at least 2 weeks after the antibiotic is complete. Over-the-counter probiotics used in these cases should contain at least one of the following ingredients: lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, or saccharomyces. Ask your pharmacist for specific product dosing information for your specific situation, as there are several options available.
Probiotics. Volume 10. No. 103. Pharmacist Letter. Available at https://pharmacist.
therapeuticresearch.com/ce?url=%2fce%2fcecourse.aspx%3fpc%3d13-103. Accessed 6/21/17.
Advise Spacing Probiotics At Least 2 Hours Apart from Antibiotics. July 2015. Pharmacist Letter. Available at: https://pharmacist.therapeuticresearch.com /Content/Articles /PL/2015/Jul/Advise-Spacing-Probiotics-At-Least-2-Hours-Apart-From-Antibiotics. Accessed 6/21/17.