Probiotic Supplements May Negatively Affect Antibiotic Medications

Although antibiotics truly revolutionized medicine in the 20th century, there is evidence of antibiotic use since ancient times. Today, these antimicrobial substances are the most important type of antibacterial agent for fighting bacterial infections by either killing or inhibiting the reproduction of bacteria. When the bacterial cause (pathogenic microorganism) of an infection is identified, a definitive antibiotic therapy is used. When the cause is unknown, a broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy may be prescribed based on the patient’s symptoms. Antibiotics are also used as a preventative measure for topical application to surgical wounds, etc.

Several health organizations, including the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who are concerned about the problems caused by antimicrobial resistance, have recommended that healthcare professionals avoid the overuse or misuse of antibiotics. In fact, it is generally recommended that you follow the first and second rule of antibiotics, which is “try not to use them.” Nonetheless, antibiotics are prescribed every day. Unfortunately, antibiotics can lead to side effects like diarrhea resulting from changes in intestinal flora. In fact, there is a positive correlation between early exposure to antibiotics and obesity later in life.

In recent years, manufacturers and distributors of probiotic supplements have encouraged people to be proactive and take probiotic supplements during antibiotic therapy. It is generally accepted that these should be consumed about two hours apart. However, a pair of studies published in the prestigious medical journal Cell, questioned the ability and utility of probiotic supplementation to restore bacterial balance in the gut. Unfortunately, for some people taking probiotics after an antibiotic regimen, increased the amount of time it took for their gut to return to normal and actually extended dysbiosis or imbalance for up to five months after stopping medication.

In both studies published in Cell, the natural restoration of the microbiota normally occurred within three weeks of ending antibiotic medications and without taking probiotics. Fact is, when you are prescribed antibiotics, you are sick and imbalances are going to occur. If you already take probiotics daily, your doctor may suggest you continue to do so even though you’ve been prescribed an antibiotic. On the other hand, if you are not supplementing every day, taking your antibiotics exactly as directed and allowing your gut to recover on its own by supporting it with a nutrient-dense diet may be the best course of action for most patients.

To discuss your specific medical needs with a board-certified internist, contact Delta IMC to schedule an appointment at our convenient location in downtown Orlando. Dr. Michael Akpeke and staff specialize in preventing, diagnosing, treating, and managing adult conditions.

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