Infections — especially during their winter peak — can leave us weak and susceptible to other illnesses. Bacterial and viral infections are associated with disruptive changes in the intestinal microbiota. Antibiotics can further augment these changes.
Antibiotics are frequently prescribed to people recovering from viral infections, anticipating an elevated risk of bacterial infections. “Antibiotics have been a great advance in the treatment of infectious diseases and the wider the activity of the agent used, the more likely it will take care of the invading microbe,” says Dr. Jeremy Burton, a scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute, Deputy Director of the Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotics, and member of the Scientific Advisory Council at the Alliance for Education on Probiotics (AEProbio). “Unfortunately, antibiotics come with collateral damage — they’re not very specific and will also inhibit or kill other beneficial microbes.”
Antibiotics have been a great advance in the treatment of infectious diseases and the wider the activity of the agent used, the more likely it will take care of the invading microbe.Dr. Jeremy Burton
A simple solution
The most common symptom of a disbalanced intestinal microbiota, and one unintended consequence of antibiotic use, is diarrhea — specifically antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and C. difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD). These inconvenient, uncomfortable conditions can last for a long time and have far-reaching consequences.
Supporting a healthy intestinal microbiota is essential to maintaining good health. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of the immune system’s response is found in the intestinal tract. Good immune health encourages a full recovery from infection and reduces the risk of AAD and CDAD.
Probiotics can help support the microbiota, but all probiotics are not equal. Probiotics with Health Canada-approved indications for AAD and CDAD are the only probiotics supported by scientific evidence that can help prevent these conditions.
Consider how you can proactively support your microbiota — and health — with probiotics this season, especially if you’re prescribed antibiotics.