Good Germs vs. Bad Germs: How Probiotics Can Help Your Diarrhea
You’re relaxing out by the pool. You’re out for a nice dinner with your spouse. You’re hanging with your buddies after work, watching the game. You might even be sleeping. You could be anywhere when it suddenly hits you: the cramping, the discomfort, and the severe sense of urgency inflicted by the scourge known as diarrhea.
A symptom of an infection or irritation in your digestive tract, diarrhea can be caused by a variety of maladies, but there are few solutions. One of the more effective treatments is in the form of probiotics, so-called “good” or “friendly” bacteria that live in your gut and help to regulate digestion. When diarrhea interferes with the microbes in your intestines, a dose of probiotics can right the ship and get things down there back in working order. While probiotics are found naturally in foods such as yogurt and other dairy products, you can also find them in some supplements on the market. Depending on the type and cause of your diarrhea, probiotics might be what you’re looking for. Here are some different causes and types of diarrhea and how probiotics may be of assistance in each case.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
With an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the population suffering from IBS, it is one of the most prevalent digestive disorders in the world. There are three different types of IBS, with differing symptoms for each, but they all cause major discomfort and generally involve diarrhea at some point. Recent studies show that probiotics for IBS-C, in which the main symptom is constipation, may help to alleviate symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, extreme flatulence, and bowel movement irregularity. You may be waiting for up to six weeks for the effects to kick in, but probiotic supplements can improve your quality of life as IBS flare-ups and the symptoms that accompany them are greatly reduced.
Although antibiotics are prescribed to treat infections, they do not discriminate between the good and bad bacteria in your system. You can end up with diarrhea when antibiotics kill the good germs and interfere with the natural balance in your intestines. If this sounds like something you have experienced, you may be one of the 10 to 30 percent of people effected in this way by these medications. Studies have shown that both adults and children could benefit from taking probiotics before and while taking antibiotics to lower the risk of diarrhea.
Characterized by life-threatening diarrhea and colon inflammation, colitis is caused by a bacteria known as C. difficile and wreaks havoc on over 900,000 Americans each year. However, there is evidence suggesting that if you suffer from colitis, you might want to give probiotics a try. Researchers revealed that the “good” bacteria acts like the doorman at a trendy nightclub, blocking the “bad” bacteria and preventing it from latching itself to the lining of the intestines. Probiotics may also neutralize the chemical processes that cause inflammation in your gut.
If you are the parent of a young child, you probably know more about diarrhea than you ever wanted to know. You may also be familiar with the term rotavirus, which is the leading cause of diarrhea among kids under five years of age, killing hundreds of thousands of children worldwide every year. Although the best way to prevent rotavirus is to have your children vaccinated, some research has discovered that using probiotics could reduce the time that your child suffers from infectious diarrhea, possibly by as much as half a day to two days. As a parent, you have to love the sound of that. Some strains of bacteria may be more successful than others, but a cocktail of different probiotics could be another option.