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Using Probiotics for Diarrhea

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Diarrhea Caused By C. Difficile

Infection with C. difficile bacteria causes severe and sometimes life-threatening diarrhea and inflammation in the colon, called colitis. Probiotics may keep you from getting this germ. And there’s some evidence that probiotics may keep C. difficile from coming back. That’s important, since repeat infections become hard to control.

Scientists have studied Saccharomyces boulardii and Lactobacillus GG the most against this type of bacteria. In one large study, patients with recurrent diarrhea took either a probiotic or a placebo. Only 9 out of 26 people in the probiotics group had more diarrhea. In the placebo group, 22 out of 34 had diarrhea that came back.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Probiotics may help treat ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There are some studies that show probiotics may also help Crohn's disease, the other form of IBD, but the evidence is not strong.

Where to Find Probiotics

Most health food stores now stock dozens of brands of probiotic foods and supplements, like yogurts or dairy drinks, capsules, powders, and liquids.

Look for probiotics that have a specific type of bacteria that has been tested and found effective. One key is to look for products that say that they’re viable “through end of shelf life” rather than “at time of manufacture.”

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on September 14, 2014
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