Probiotics aid in restoring the microbiota after antibiotics
Antibiotics are among the most important drugs to combat infectious diseases. However, they do not only eliminate pathogens but also kill our beneficial bacteria, disturbing the balance in our intestines1,2,3. Probiotics can help to diminish these disturbances. 4,5,6,7.
During antibiotic use the disturbed bacterial population in our intestines enable pathogens to overgrow and cause antibiotic associated diarrhoea 8,9,10. After antibiotic use, our friendly flora recovers but the original composition and diversity are not fully restored. Some bacterial groups do not even return at all 11,12,13.
These permanent disturbances are linked to all kinds of health conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer and even allergies 14,15,16,17,18. Particularly in vulnerable groups such as children, elderly and patients suffering from chronic disease, antibiotics most severely affect health 19,20,21,22,23.
Fortunately, antibiotic-induced disturbances can to some extent be restored by re-introducing the beneficial bacteria in our gut. For example, by administering specific probiotics,24,25,26,27. Probiotic bacteria can help recover the microbial populations and their activity, inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, restore the intestinal barrier function and stimulate the immune system 28,29,30.
Their effect on reducing the risk of diarrhoea and reversing microbiota imbalances, have been proven in several studies 31,32,33. What is more, probiotics come with no or negligible side-effects and their use has been proven safe among even vulnerable patient groups 34,35,36.
Prevention is better than cure. However when antibiotics are deemed necessary, probiotics can lower future health care expenses, morbidity and mortality by restoring the microbial disturbances. And maybe even more important, improve the patient’s quality of life.
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