Can the Use of Probiotics Reduce Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea in Hospitalized Patients?

Understanding Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea (AAD)

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) is a common side effect experienced by patients undergoing antibiotic therapy. It occurs when the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is disrupted by the antibiotics, leading to diarrhea. The severity of this condition can range from mild to severe, sometimes even leading to life-threatening complications.

Various studies have explored different strategies to manage AAD and one promising solution is the use of probiotics. But can the use of probiotics really reduce AAD in hospitalized patients? We delve into this subject with a thorough examination of scholarly articles, crossref references, and Google Scholar resources.

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The Role of Probiotics in Correcting Gut Dysbiosis

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. They are often referred to as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria because they help maintain a healthy gut. More specifically, probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, can potentially restore the gut’s microbiota balance disrupted by antibiotic treatment.

A PubMed article published by Reid et al. (2019), emphasizes the potential of probiotics to reduce the manifestation of AAD. This is backed by a meta-study by Videlock and Cremonini (2017) which showed a modest but consistent benefit of probiotics in preventing AAD.

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However, it’s essential to remember that the effectiveness of probiotics can vary depending on the type and dose of probiotic used, the type of antibiotics administered, and the individual patient’s health status.

Studies on the Use of Probiotics to Reduce AAD

Many studies have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of probiotics in reducing AAD in hospitalized patients. Let’s take a closer look at these studies and their findings.

One such study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (Hickson et al., 2007) carried out a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 135 hospitalized patients. The patients, all receiving antibiotics, were divided into a group that received probiotic therapy and a control group. The study found that the incidence of AAD was significantly lower in the probiotic group.

Another study, a meta-analysis published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Goldenberg et al., 2013), analyzed 23 trials involving 4213 participants. The authors concluded that probiotics are effective in preventing AAD.

Still, it’s important to note that while these and other studies indicate a positive association between probiotics and reduced instances of AAD, further research is needed to solidify these findings.

When Should Probiotics Be Administered?

Considering the potential of probiotics in reducing AAD, the question arises: when is the best time to administer probiotics? Many experts suggest that probiotics should be taken during antibiotic therapy, and continued for a few weeks after the course of antibiotics is completed.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology (Sheu et al., 2006), the administration of Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota during antibiotic treatment significantly reduced the occurrence of AAD in hospitalized patients.

However, a PubMed article by Gao et al. (2010) suggests that the timing of probiotic administration may also depend on the specific probiotic strain used, the severity of the patient’s condition, the dose of the antibiotic, and the patient’s overall health status.

Probiotics: a Viable Solution or Just a Supplement?

The use of probiotics as a measure to reduce AAD in hospitalized patients can be considered both as a potential solution and a complement to antibiotic therapy. The evidence from numerous studies suggests that probiotics can indeed minimize the occurrence of AAD and improve the overall quality of life for patients on antibiotic therapy.

However, it’s important to keep in mind several factors that can influence the effectiveness of probiotics, including the type and dose of the probiotic used, the type of antibiotic prescribed, and the individual’s health status.

Furthermore, while probiotics can support gut health, they are not a substitute for a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, while their use in managing AAD is promising, they should be considered as part of a comprehensive treatment plan rather than a standalone solution.

To conclude, while the use of probiotics presents a promising approach to manage AAD, more research is needed to determine the best practices for their use in clinical settings.

Remember, if you or a loved one are considering the use of probiotics in conjunction with antibiotic therapy, it is always best to speak with a healthcare professional. They can provide personalized advice based on the individual’s health status and the specific circumstances of the antibiotic treatment.

The Impact of Probiotic Strains and Dosage on AAD Prevention

Speaking in terms of probiotics prevention, one cannot overlook the critical role that both the specific probiotic strains and their dosage play in the overall effectiveness of this approach. Probiotics, as stated before, are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to your digestive system. The most commonly used strains in studies related to AAD prevention are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

An article published in PubMed – McFarland (2006), laid emphasis on the importance of the right dosage of probiotics. It also pointed out that the efficacy of probiotics can largely depend on the specific strains used. Another systematic review by Hempel et al. (2012) available on PubMed, echoed a similar sentiment. It found that specific probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii had a significant effect on the incidence of AAD.

However, a meta-analysis by Shen et al. (2017), published in JAMA, mentioned that while certain strains showed promising results, the overall effect of probiotics on antibiotic-associated diarrhoea could not be definitively stated due to a lack of high-quality studies.

In conclusion, it’s evident that the effectiveness of probiotics as a prevention strategy against AAD could be influenced by the specific strain and dosage used. Healthcare professionals should consider these factors while recommending probiotics during antibiotic therapy.

The Concern of Clostridium Difficile Infection

AAD is not only uncomfortable for patients, but it can also lead to a more severe form of diarrhoea caused by Clostridium difficile bacteria. According to a PubMed article by Bartlett (2002), C.difficile is known to be a common cause of AAD and can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications.

Several studies have shown that the use of probiotics could potentially reduce the risk of C.difficile-associated diarrhoea. For example, a double-blind study published in the Lancet by Plummer et al. (2004), found a significant reduction in the incidence of C.difficile in a hospital setting when patients were administered with a probiotic drink.

However, a systematic review of 31 randomised controlled trials by Johnston et al. (2012), published on PubMed, found that while probiotics seemed to reduce the risk of C.difficile infection, the quality of the evidence was low. There is an urgent need for more high-quality studies to confirm these findings.

In light of these studies, it’s important for medical professionals to consider the risk of C.difficile infection when administering antibiotic therapy and to weigh the benefits and risks of prescribing probiotics as a preventive measure.


The use of probiotics as a way to reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in hospitalized patients presents a promising avenue of research. Several studies, as accessed via Crossref Google, PubMed Crossref, and Google Scholar, advocate the effectiveness of probiotics in preventing AAD.

The timing of administration, the specific probiotic strains used, the dosage, and other patient-specific factors all play a crucial role in the effectiveness of probiotics as a preventive measure. Moreover, the potential ability of probiotics to reduce the risk of C.difficile infection adds another layer of complexity to this topic.

While the medical community has not reached a consensus, the use of probiotics could potentially be seen as a complementary therapy for patients undergoing antibiotic treatment. It’s not a standalone solution, but their role in promoting gut health cannot be overlooked.

As we continue to delve deeper into the complex world of gut microbiota, the potential for probiotics is vast. However, as with any medical intervention, it is critical to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment. In the realm of probiotics and AAD, more research is needed to develop standardized best practices for their use in a clinical setting.

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