Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Some Doctors Warming Up to Probiotics

Probiotics May Help Prevent Diarrhea in Patients on Antibiotics
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Nov. 4, 2011 (Washington, D.C.) -- May I have a probiotic with that antibiotic please?

That's a question that hospitalized patients being started on antibiotics may want to ask their doctors, according to a panel of doctors convened by the American College of Gastroenterology at its annual meeting here.

A review of 22 studies involving 3,096 patients presented at the meeting showed that taking probiotics while on antibiotics may cut the risk of developing antibiotic-associated diarrhea by about 60%.

Patients took any of a variety of probiotics, most commonly S. boulardii, for an average of one-and-one-half weeks. Most were hospitalized during treatment.

A second analysis that pooled the results of 28 studies involving 3,338 patients showed those given probiotics for at least as long as they were on antibiotics were 56% less likely to develop antibiotic-associated diarrhea than those given placebo.

Why? For all the good they can do, antibiotics kill "good" bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria and help prevent diarrhea.

Probiotics also appeared to provide protection against potentially deadly bouts of diarrhea caused by the bug Clostridium difficile, or C. diff., says researcher Rabin Rahmani, MD, a gastroenterologist at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City.

Up to 3 in 4 Patients on Antibiotics Get Diarrhea

"By giving probiotics, you reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea that occurs in 40% to 75% of hospitalized patients on antibiotics," says Fergus Shanahan, MD, of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, an industry-funded research center at the National University of Ireland at Cork.

In many cases, the diarrhea is mild and short lived; in others, it is severe and persistent, he says.

"We could debate whether all hospitalized patients on antibiotics need probiotics, but certainly the elderly, who are at high risk," Shanahan tells WebMD.

Brian E. Lacy, MD, PhD, a gastroenterologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and moderator of the panel, went even further. "In my experience, it is certainly rational to offer probiotics [to hospitalized patients given antibiotics]," he says.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
diverticuliltis illustration
couple eating at cafe
sick child
Woman blowing bubble gum

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Woman with stomach pain
diet for diverticulitis
what causes diarrhea