Antibiotics and Probiotics – What You Need to Know

If your doctor has prescribed an antibiotic, you may be worried about the negative side-effects from taking this medication.  This is a reasonable concern given that a quarter of patients stop taking their full course of antibiotic therapy due to antibiotic associated diarrhea. 

 

Taking Antibiotics and Probiotics

Should you take antibiotics and probiotics at the same time?  Or, should you take probiotics with antibiotics or after?

 

The answer is to take antibiotics and probiotics together but not at the same time.

 

A rule of thumb is to take your probiotic 2 hours before or 2 hours after taking your antibiotic.  This gives sufficient time for the antibiotic to work while not killing off the beneficial bacteria.  If you wait until your antibiotic therapy is over to take your probiotics (typically 7-10 days), then you will have needlessly suffered digestive upset for over a week.

 

The good news is that taking probiotics with antibiotics can alleviate some of the problems associated with taking these medications.  Read below to learn exactly what to do when taking probiotics while on antibiotics.

 

Probiotic-8 - Get Your Digestive Health Back on Track

Probiotic-8 - Get Your Digestive Health Back on Track

Why are Antibiotics Prescribed?

Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria, fungi and certain parasites. These drugs are routinely prescribed after surgery to prevent infection.  Antibiotics are also used in the treatment of acne to reduce the overgrowth of a bacterium called P. acnes that normally resides on the skin.

 

Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat viral infections such as colds, the flu, most coughs and bronchitis, sore throats (except from strep throat) and some ear infections.  However, antibiotics can’t cure these types of infections.  Antibiotics kill bacterial infections and are not effective against viral infections.

 

While antibiotics are credited with saving lives and reducing the chance of dying prematurely from an infectious disease, their overuse has led to antibiotic resistance.  This occurs when bacteria adapt or change to render the antibiotic less effective.  The surviving bacteria become hardier making it more difficult for other antibiotics to work.

 

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What’s the Problem with Antibiotics?

Many antibiotics used today are not targeted but medium and broad spectrum. That means they kill bacteria without prejudice – killing both the bad and the beneficial bacteria that reside in the gastrointestinal tract.

 

Upsetting the natural balance in the digestive tract causes all sorts of digestive problems.  But, the most common complaint associated with these medications is antibiotic associated diarrhea.  In fact, this negative effect is the number one reason why patients discontinue antibiotic therapy.

 

In women, another common side-effect of taking antibiotics is a yeast infection caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans.  This yeast normally inhabits your GI tract.  But, if allowed to reproduce too quickly, can cause a yeast infection.

 

With an increasing number of bacteria-resistant illnesses in the U.S., more antibiotics are required to kill a bug.  As more antibiotics are used, the immune system is weakened, which lowers a person’s resistance to new infections and the cycle continues.

 

How do Probiotics Help?

Studies support the use of probiotics for avoiding diarrhea resulting from antibiotic use.  Importantly, researchers found that probiotics were found to rarely cause adverse effects, even in children.

 

Probiotics restore bacteria lost due to antibiotics.  Taking a probiotic helps to repopulate the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria to get your digestive function back to normal.  These “good guys” reduce the symptoms of antibiotic associated diarrhea by killing off the bad bacteria.  How do they do this?  These beneficial flora produce compounds that are toxic to bad bacteria, suppressing their growth.  In addition, they prevent bad bacteria from adhering to intestinal walls.

 

In addition to normalizing your digestive tract, probiotics can strengthen your immune system.  With more than 70% of your immune system located in your digestive tract, bolstering this system with beneficial bacteria makes perfect sense and helps prevent future illness.

 

Benefits of Taking Probiotics

- Prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea
- Support immune health
- Promote digestive regularity
- Enhance absorption of nutrients
- Manufacture vitamin K, B12, folic acid & biotin
- Decrease symptoms of lactose intolerance
- May play a role in weight management
- Support healthy-looking, blemish- free skin

 

Will Taking Probiotics Make Antibiotics Less Effective?

Taking a probiotic will not make an antibiotic less effective.  But, antibiotics can make probiotics less effective.

 

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Are Probiotics Safe?

Yes.  Probiotics have an excellent safety track record.  Many studies have documented their safety and efficacy in alleviating a wide range chronic conditions such as allergies, Candida, diarrhea, eczema and other skin conditions, infections, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease.

 

What’s the Best Probiotic Supplement?

Not all probiotics are created equal.  So, you want to choose a probiotic that best meets your needs while taking an antibiotic.

 

Many antibiotics used today are broad spectrum meaning they wipe out a wide range of both bad and good bacteria.  To compensate, you’ll want to select a probiotic that replenishes your digestive tract with a broad range of beneficial bacteria.  Two key probiotic families are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.  Find a probiotic that contains species from both of these families such as L. acidophilus and B. bifidum.

 

Within each of these two families are species that are hardier than others.  Species like L. acidophilus. L. rhamnosus and L. salivarius are remarkably tolerant of the harsh conditions in the digestive tract.  Other species like L. casei and B. longum are beneficial in preventing diarrhea associated with antibiotic use.

 

The best probiotic supplemen t will also be enteric-coated.  This ensures that the probiotic supplement bypasses the harsh conditions of the stomach and doesn’t break-down until the small intestine where the beneficial bacteria are liberated.

 

VitaMedica’s Probiotic-8 supplement meets all of these criteria.  The supplement contains a wide range of beneficial bacteria to restore your body’s natural flora including 4 strains of Lactobacillus, 4 strains of Bifidobacterium and 1 strain of Streptococcus.  Enteric-coated capsules ensure that the friendly bacteria survive the trip to the GI tract.

 

How much Probiotics with Antibiotics?

Numerous studies indicate that to alleviate antibiotic-associated diarrhea, adults should consume at least 4 billion organisms with each dose or a total of 8 billion per day.  With VitaMedica’s Probiotic-8, two capsules taken twice daily provides 16 billion live organisms.

 

How Often Should I take Probiotics?

You should take probiotics twice a day, about a half hour or more before eating.  Taking probiotics on an empty stomach helps to eliminate bloating or gas that a small number of patients get while taking a probiotic supplement.  Be sure to not skip a dose to ensure the colonization of helpful bacteria.

 

How Long Should I Take Probiotics After Antibiotics?

Most antibiotic therapy lasts between several days and two weeks.  Experts recommend that you continue to take probiotics after antibiotics for several weeks to ensure that your digestive tract gets back to normal.

 

Many people take probiotics on a daily basis.  Regular use of probiotics helps to keep your digestive system healthy by keeping you regular.  Probiotics also bolster your immune system and enhance the absorption of nutrients.

 

Do Probiotics Need Refrigeration?

The viability of some probiotics last longer when refrigerated.  You’ll need to check the label of the product.  Keep in mind that moisture and heat can easily destroy probiotics.  Refrigerating probiotics helps to maintain their shelf-life.

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  1. Sue says:

    Also sounds like you have a good case of candida overgrowth, which usually does occur due to antibiotics and other drugs. Also, being on any kind of antibiotic for life can set you up for many things, including being antibiotic resistant. If that hip replacement became infected, it’s their fault, not yours. If the infection is where you are able to see it, there are many natural ways to treat it. Raw, organic honey and garlic both have anti bacterial properties, and I know people who treat their kids this way if they get sick. There’s also a product called cell food, it oxygenates the area and nothing can thrive. Knew a lady who cut her leg with a chain saw..she wouldn’t go to the Dr. because she had no insurance and no money. Even my friend who has a health food/supplement store told her she probably needed to go get stitches. She didn’t and came back some time later to show her the leg. It was all healed up, barely a scar. All things in nature have healing properties, and whole foods as well. Even Hippocrates said, “look to your food for healing.” God knew what he was doing, the Medical Field is just out for the money and taught by Big Pharma to cut it off, out, or write out a prescription, to put a band aid on it. They don’t really know “how” to treat anything, or to get to the root of the actual problem. If you can locate a Naturopath in your area, that would be your best bet.

  2. Charlie says:

    Marnie,

    I surprised to hear that your physician is not a fan of probiotics.. This is not typical of a responsible, common-common day physician. Get a second opinion before starting, but… Yes.. It will help you tremendously. Also, it’s very good for your health. I recommend everyone take a GOOD multivitamin, fatty acid and probiotic supplement daily. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it an insurance plan? Yes. Not having a cold in 10 years speaks loud to me!! :)

    I wish you all the best.

  3. Yvette La-Garde says:

    I suspect that you are correct in that the symptoms you are experiencing relate to the ongoing usage of Cipro. You may want to try our Probiotic-8. Just read the information in the article about the timing of taking probiotics and antibiotics so you get the best from both. Good luck.

  4. Marnie Spencer says:

    I am 72 years old and 6 years ago I had a knee replacement that became infected and remains so. I have only minimal use of the leg. I use wheelchair and crutches. I have been on Ciprofloxacin for the past year . Started on 1500mg per day, now on 750mg per day and told that I shall remain on this level the rest of my life.
    I suffer from bloating,indigestion,constipation, wind, etc plus a vaginal itch. All symptoms of antibiotic overuse. I have asked my Doctor about probiotics but she is not a fan of them and said take them if you want to. I would like to try them, what do you think ?

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