antibiotic use

Antibiotics and the C. Diff Superbug

American doctors wrote some 266 MILLION prescriptions for antibiotics in 2014, according to the most recent numbers reported by the CDC. Simply put, for every 1,000 Americans, 835 prescriptions for antibiotics were written.

Those are amazing and frightening numbers…

Hovering near the top of the list of most prescribed antibiotics is Ciprofloxacin (better known as Cipro), part of the fluoroquinolone class of synthetic broad-spectrum drugs.

If Cipro sounds familiar, your doctor may have prescribed it (or Levaquin) at some point to treat a urinary tract infection, bronchitis or sinus infection.

(You may have also missed a recent FDA advisory urging doctors to dial back prescribing fluoroquinolones due to reports of disabling and permanent side effects to the central nervous system as well as joints, tendons and muscles.)

Superbugs = super-damage to human health

This deluge of antibiotics has done unintentional but very serious damage to the collective health of Americans, contributing to the epidemic of superbugs like Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections in hospitals.

Fighting C. diff has been a real headache for health care facilities that have already scrambled to update their cleaning protocols to eliminate the use of chemicals containing antibacterial compounds like triclosan to prevent healthcare associated infections (HAIs) from doing harm to patients who just want to get well and go home.

For a long time, hospitals and medical professionals assumed dirt and germs were at the root of the superbug epidemic.

So, how much of an impact do antibiotics really have in a hospital setting? Based on a recent study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, it’s much more than you’d expect given all of the attention to superbugs.

  1. diff rates dropped by a dramatic 80 percent only when the use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro was restricted and used in targeted ways, according to the study of hospitals in the UK.

“These findings are of international importance because other regions such as North America, where fluoroquinolone prescribing remains unrestricted, still suffer from epidemic numbers of C. difficile infections,” said Dr. Derrick Crook, co-study author and professor of microbiology at the University of Oxford in a press release.

“Similar C. diff bugs that affected the UK have spread around the world, and so it is plausible that targeted antibiotic control could help achieve large reductions in C. diff infections in other countries,” says co-author Dr. Mark Wilcox.

Protect your health from antibiotic-associated infections

Apart from dispensing too many antibiotics, physicians and hospitals have another tool upon which they can rely to reduce the rate of antibiotic-associated infections like C. diff., according to a 2016 survey of studies published in the International Journal of General Medicine.

Giving adults and children probiotics reduced the risks of developing a C. diff infection by some 60 percent, particularly among patients recovering in a hospital.

Among the beneficial bacteria cited as beneficial in halting the spread of C. diff: Lactobacillus, among the active strains contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior.

Probiotics Proven to Reduce the Risk of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea

Nonadherence to antibiotic treatment due to diarrhea is a common concern among healthcare professionals when treating infection. Probiotics, more researchers are finding, can greatly reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) when taken two hours after the first antibiotic dose.

Several studies support the nutraceutical use of probiotics including two analyses steered by behavioral scientist Susanne Hempel, co-director of Southern California Evidence-Based Practice Center.

In her 2006 meta-analysis, 11,811 participants in 82 randomized, controlled trials who reported experiencing diarrhea while taking antibiotics showed a 42-percent reduced risk with probiotic supplementation. A 2012 clinical review by the same authors noted an increased interest in probiotic intervention as well as evidence of its effectiveness in preventing AAD.

The Journal of the American Medical Association article “Probiotics Revisited,” from a 2014 Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, further concludes that probiotics such as lactobacillus spp and saccharomyces can help abate AAD with few, if any, adverse effects.

Preventing AAD in Children

Incorporating probiotics is especially beneficial in treating young children who are frequently exposed to respiratory ailments that often lead to bacterial infections. Studies have found that up to 50 percent of children who receive antibiotics for ear infections will develop AAD.

Consider the case of Peter, a 4-year-old preschooler who developed a sore throat and fever that advanced into bronchitis. His pediatrician prescribed an antibiotic, which remedied the cough, but also caused severe diarrhea that resulted in a trip to the emergency room and the diagnosis of AAD.

Brian, an 8-month-old diagnosed with an ear infection, had a different experience. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic, but also recommended adding a probiotic. The infection healed without the occurrence of diarrhea and potentially fatal dehydration.

In fact, a study published by the Cochrane Library in 2015 revealed new evidence supporting the use of probiotics to prevent pediatric AAD. Twenty-three clinical trials in 3,938 newborns to children age 17 compared probiotics, placebo and non-treatment to measure the occurrence of diarrhea resulting from antibiotic use. The study also looked for any harmful side effects attributed to using probiotics for this purpose.

While most controlled studies to date have analyzed lactobacillus, the Cochrane trial also included bacillus spp., bifidobacterium spp., clostridium butyricum, lactobacilli spp., lactococcus spp., leuconostoc cremoris, saccharomyces spp. and streptococcus spp, either alone or combined. The results revealed a much lower incidence of AAD – just eight percent – in the probiotic group compared to 19 percent among control group participants. Adverse side effects attributable to the probiotics were hardly palpable among otherwise healthy children, compared to a host of undesirable events with the placebo, standard care and non-treatment groups that included nausea, gas, bloating and constipation. The authors of the study therefore concluded measurable, moderate-quality benefit to using probiotics in healthy individuals as compared to not.

Choosing a probiotic

Because different bacterial strains provide different benefits, choosing a probiotic containing several cultures that can work symbiotically is how to get rid of diarrhea or aiming to prevent AAD.

EndoMune Advanced Probiotic for adults provides 20 billion probiotic bacteria CFU consisting of ten naturally occurring bacterial strains, plus the boosting prebiotic fructooligosaccharide (FOS). EndoMune Jr. consists of four bacterial strains and provides10 billion CFU.

Probiotics and Flu Season

The temperature is dipping and you all know what that means – cold and flu season is upon us. No one wants to end up stuck in bed for a week with uncomfortable, draining flu symptoms. Happily, there are a few basic things you can do to prevent the onset of the flu:

  • Get the flu vaccine
  • Wash your hands religiously
  • Avoid crowds
  • Do not sneeze or cough into your hands
  • Drink lots of fluid
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep, per night

These recommendations are the typical prescription for prevention from most practiced care providers. However, there’s one more key step that could make the difference for you this flu season: taking a probiotic.

The Proof Is in the Research

Published health studies such as Probiotics Effects on Cold and Influenza-like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children1 from the medical journal Pediatrics, demonstrate the validity of probiotics as a preventative health supplement.

For example, this particular study divided healthy children, ages 3-5, into three separate groups:

  • Those receiving a placebo (104 participants)
  • Those receiving a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus (110 participants)
  • Those receiving a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus & Bifidobacterium lactis (112 participants)

For the purposes of the study, each child received their supplement daily, for 6 months, under close cold and flu symptom scrutiny.

At the end of the study researches found that, when compared to the placebo groups, the other two participant groups had reduced flu-like symptoms, antibiotic use and days missed from school – a huge relief to parents and physicians alike.

 

What The Research Means for You

Studies in adults2, similar to the Pediatrics study, have been performed and the results indicate similar findings, particularly in cases of upper respiratory infections.

Scientific outcomes infer that this occurs because oral probiotic supplements can stimulate the immune system in the gastrointestinal tract. Once this occurs, the GI tract typically begins producing more immune cells. Those cells can then stop cold and flu inflammation before it becomes severe and attack viruses as they invade the lining of the respiratory tract3,4,5,6. Thus, the body eradicates viruses before they settle.

 

Take Home Message

Results like these highlight the importance of taking a daily, oral probiotic supplement during flu season – particularly one containing the potent bacteria strain combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in a serving size of 10 billion colonies or more.

Try a probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic or EndoMune Junior Advanced Probiotic for your little ones, that meets these standards to help counter disastrous flu symptoms this autumn and winter.


1 Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children.Leyer GJ, Li S, Mubasher ME, Reifer C, Ouwehand AC; Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e172-9. Epub 2009 Jul 27

2 Probiotics for the prevention of respiratory tract infections: a systematic review.Vouloumanou EK, Makris GC, Karageorgopoulos DE, Falagas ME; Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2009 Sep;34(3):197.e1-10. Epub 2009 Jan 28.
Probiotics in intestinal and non-intestinal infectious diseases–clinical evidence.
Hatakka K, Saxelin M; Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(14):1351-67. Review.

3 Probiotic bacteria reduced duration and severity but not the incidence of common cold episodes in a double blind, randomized, controlled trial.de Vrese M, Winkler P, Rautenberg P, Harder T, Noah C, Laue C, Ott S, Hampe J, Schreiber S, Heller K, Schrezenmeir J; Vaccine. 2006 Nov 10;24(44-46):6670-4. Epub 2006 Jun 6.

Probiotics in intestinal and non-intestinal infectious diseases–clinical evidence. Hatakka K, Saxelin M; Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(14):1351-67. Review.

5 Molecular and cellular basis of microflora-host interactions.Winkler P, Ghadimi D, Schrezenmeir J, Kraehenbuhl JP; J Nutr. 2007 Mar;137(3 Suppl 2):756S-72S. Review.

6 Probiotic and prebiotic influence beyond the intestinal tract. Lenoir-Wijnkoop I, Sanders ME, Cabana MD, Caglar E, Corthier G, Rayes N, Sherman PM, Timmerman HM, Vaneechoutte M, Van Loo J, Wolvers DA; Nutr Rev. 2007 Nov;65(11):469-89. Review

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