diarrhea

illustration of c. diff bacteria

Protecting Your Child From C. Diff Diarrhea

When health experts talk about Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections in the news — the most common superbug that causes life-threatening diarrhea — it’s largely associated with overprescribing antibiotics to older people in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Those concerns are warranted, considering about 500,000 Americans are sickened by C. diff infections and nearly 30,000 die from them annually.

However, C. diff infections are equal-opportunity offenders that can be a serious problem for young children too, according to findings published recently in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Based on a meta-analysis of 14 studies and 10.5 million children, prior exposure to antibiotics was the main culprit, nearly doubling the risk of C. diff infections in young children, compared to kids who hadn’t taken antibiotics.

But that’s not all…

Researchers also cited exposure to heartburn drugs — better known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) — as another C. diff risk factor for children. That’s not surprising given many adults rely on them too often and for too long at the expense of disrupting the healthy balance of their gut bacteria.

A study published last fall in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection backs up this link between severe cases of C. diff related to children taking PPIs.

The concerns about PPI use are so critical and obvious that the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (connected with the National Institutes of Health) felt it was important enough to devote a detailed section to treating acid reflux in children and teens.

The good news: There’s growing consensus among health experts that taking a daily probiotic can be a very safe and effective solution for preventing C. diff infections altogether.

Additionally, recent scientific evidence has shown the benefits of treating patients with probiotics made with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria were very effective in preventing C. diff infections.

One safe and natural way to protect your young child from C. diff infections, especially if they are taking an antibiotic: Talk to your doctor about giving him/her a probiotic, like EndoMune Jr. Powder (recommended for children to age 3) or EndoMune Jr. Chewable Probiotic (ages 3-8).

Both varieties of EndoMune Jr. contain four strains of beneficial bacteria, along with a prebiotic (FOS).

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Question What You Read Everywhere!

If you follow my blog and keep up with the news, you’ve heard about a pair of recent studies published in the medical journal, Cell, that found probiotics may have very limited value.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media — seemingly everyone from CBS News to Forbes — jumped on the bandwagon to dispute the value of probiotics without looking at their considerable and proven benefits over time, many of which we’ve discussed here.

Since you have some questions and concerns about these reports, we have some answers.

What do the studies say?

Study one examined how well a generic probiotic with 11 strains of bacteria could colonize the intestinal lining when given to 25 healthy adults, as determined with a colonoscope taking specimens from the mucosa, versus a placebo.

This approach differs from most previous studies in which probiotics were measured in stools. Their justification was to determine if the generic probiotics you find at most supermarkets “colonize the gastrointestinal tract like they’re supposed to, and then whether these probiotics are having any impact on the human host.”

Study two investigated whether patients should be taking a probiotic when they were prescribed an antibiotic to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Twenty-one healthy patients were divided into three groups: Seven took an antibiotic, six more were given an antibiotic and the same generic probiotic from the first study and the rest received an antibiotic and pills containing fecal samples from their own microbiome.

What were the results?

In study one, the generic probiotic bacteria were found in the stools of each patient, and only in the lining of the colon of a few patients. This finding led scientists to conclude that, if probiotic bacteria weren’t found in the colon, they’re not beneficial. It also explains why many stories reported probiotics were ‘’useless.”

The results of study two were a bit more complicated:

  • The microbiomes of patients who received just an antibiotic returned to their healthy composition after 21 days.
  • Patients given fecal transplants experienced a normal intestinal microbiome within days after stopping the antibiotic.
  • Among patients treated with a generic probiotic, their microbiomes did not return to their original composition even five months later.

Problems with both studies

Now that you’ve had a chance to review both studies, it’s easier to see why taking these results at face value is tricky.

The problem with study one that examined the use of a generic probiotic was pretty straight-forward. These generic probiotics were given to healthy people with normal microbiomes, so the beneficial bacteria wouldn’t find a place in the lining of the colon to colonize.

In fact, the immune system of the intestines and existing microbiome would prevent it!

Studies have shown when patients struggle with gut health problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), taking a good probiotic can treat their symptoms and rebalance their microbiomes. So, probiotics aren’t “useless!”

In study two, because patients treated with a generic probiotic after receiving an antibiotic didn’t return to normal right away, researchers assumed the probiotic might cause ”harm” by increasing their risk of intestinal disorders. Moreover, researchers suggested patients “personalized probiotics” in the form of fecal transplants might lessen any risks.

Unfortunately, this phase of the study set up patients for more health problems like diarrhea down the road, merely by giving them antibiotics.

Plus, antibiotics change the composition and balance of bacteria in the gut, which may increase the activity of enzymes that trigger a faster absorption of carbohydrates, leaving you more vulnerable to obesity and diabetes.

Remember those extra carbs and fats feed poor dietary habits that disrupt your gut-brain axis, the biological connection that links your intestines, brain and emotions.

One more variable this research team didn’t consider in either study: The contribution of prebiotics, the non-digestible starches that feed the bacteria in your gut contained in a lot of probiotics, including EndoMune Advanced ProbioticEndoMune Junior Probiotic and EndoMune Metabolic Rescue.

Prebiotics have been shown to offer a number of health benefits connected with probiotics, like improving your sleep and giving your body some extra protection from type 2 diabetes.

Also, I have to take issue with the use of fecal transplants to engineer the results of this study. Fecal transplants may have performed better among three options in this second study, but going this route isn’t without its risks, especially if you’re receiving fecal matter from another donor.

In one 2015 report, a patient was successfully treated for a recurring C. diff infection with a fecal transplant from an overweight donor (her daughter) only to gain 34 pounds in just 16 months.

In other cases, people who have tried “do-it-yourself” fecal transplants from donors have suffered brand new health problems they never expected from people who seemed to be very healthy, but were carriers of germs they could pass on to others.

I cannot stress enough that using these results from both studies to imply that probiotics in many cases are “useless” or “harmful” just isn’t accurate.

As a physician specializing in gastroenterology, I’ve seen firsthand how the use of probiotics has changed the lives of patients suffering from simple problems like constipation and hard-to-treat ones like IBS. Also, patients who are on a strong course of antibiotics may avoid the risks of experiencing life-threating infections just by taking a probiotic too.

Why Do I Need to Take a Probiotic?

For people who are reading our blog for the very first time or those needing a refresher course in good gut health habits, you may be wondering why we devote so much space to explaining why you need to take a probiotic.

There are A LOT of reasons for taking probiotics, in addition to promoting good gut health! Fortunately, you don’t have to do the research.

What follows are 10 important reasons why you should be taking probiotics for your good health, based on the latest research.

  1. Many cheap brands of probiotics contain a single strain of beneficial bacteria, which may be good for a specific problem. However, a multi-strain probiotic protects the diversity of your gut and treats common gut health problems like constipation too.
  1. Do you use an over-the-counter medication like loperamide (Imodium) to treat a case of diarrhea? Taking a probiotic is one of the most effective ways, not only to get rid of diarrhea, but to prevent it altogether.
  1. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can do great harm to your gut and your emotions, disrupting your body’s gut-brain axis. Taking a probiotic and a prebiotic (EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and Endomune Jr. Probiotics for Kids contains both) may be a good way to treat IBS and depression without a drug.
  1. Are you taking antibiotics more than once a year to treat persistent infections? Antibiotics rapidly deplete the beneficial bacteria and make you more vulnerable to serious diseases such as colon cancer and more serious antibiotic-resistant infections. Taking a daily probiotic gives your body extra protection by replenishing the beneficial bacteria your body needs.

(You’ll also do your health a great deal of good by avoiding contact with antibacterial soaps that contain broad spectrum and synthetic antimicrobial compounds like triclosan too.)

  1. For patients who suffer from migraines, scientists have recently discovered a link between those painful headaches and nitrates, a common food additive. Some gut health experts believe taking a probiotic may become a safer, non-drug answer to treat migraines.
  1. Have problems with your teeth? Taking a probiotic is good treatment, as it may be a one more way to heal chronic periodontitis and reduce inflammation and levels of gingivitis and plaque, in addition to regular dental care.
  1. Hypertension can be a warning sign of serious health problems behind the scenes and even death. Taking a daily probiotic can improve your overall health, lower your blood pressure safely and lessen your dependence on prescription medications.
  1. Do you fly for your job or pleasure on a frequent basis or work a swing shift? The balance of bacteria in your gut is affected your body’s circadian rhythms as you cross time zones — often due to jet lag — but taking a probiotic prevents that yo-yo effect from harming your health.
  1. Protecting your sleep is an important part of restoring your body night after night. Be sure that any probiotic you consider taking also contains a prebiotic that can help you improve your sleep.
  1. Are you a new parent losing sleep over your baby’s prolonged crying due to colic? A number of studies point to probiotics as a safe, healthy way to lessen colic and prevent other common problems for babies like acid reflux and constipation.

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.

Traveling this holiday season? 6 ways to avoid traveler’s diarrhea

 

With the Christmas/New Year’s holidays nearly upon us, the “trendy” gifts aren’t big-screen TVs or tablets waiting under a tree to be opened. Material things are taking a back seat to something new: Large families taking long-distance trips to far away places across the ocean, according to travel experts.

Traveling with a large contingent of your family, for instance, on a jungle expedition to the other side of the world conjures thoughts of once-in-a-lifetime memories. One of those recollections that will stay with you forever, however, should not be the days you spent sick with traveler’s diarrhea.

Unfortunately, traveler’s diarrhea is the most common ailment travelers face, affecting as many as half of all Americans traveling to international destinations. Although traveler’s diarrhea may happen any time — even after returning home — the CDC warns the onset usually starts during the first week of your trip.

The symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea — frequent trips to the bathroom, loose stools, nausea, cramping, bloating and fever — are abrupt, meaning they won’t sneak up on you. Although traveler’s diarrhea is rarely life-threatening, most incidents are resolved in a week, just enough time to ruin your dream trip.

The following precautions should do the trick to help you and your family sidestep traveler’s diarrhea and make your trip a healthy one.

The Six Ways to Avoid Traveler’s Diarrhea

1. Be sure you and your loved ones are current on all of your vaccinations. You may also need to be vaccinated for diseases (Hepatitis A and B and Typhoid) that aren’t found in North America.

2. The popular warning “don’t drink the water” should also include avoiding unpasteurized dairy foods (milk and cheeses), fruit that hasn’t been washed and peeled and cooked foods allowed to cool. Also, don’t chill your drinks with ice that may be produced with unclean water.

3. Keep your hands as clean as possible with simple soap and water, especially before a meal. Travelers should also stay away from touching their mouths, faces or any mucous membranes with their hands as much as possible during their trip, according to the CDC.

(A warning: A proposed rule under consideration by the FDA would raise the burden on manufacturers to prove their antibacterial soaps prevent more infections than simpler soaps.)

Watch For Bugs!

4. Because diseases can be spread due to mosquito bites, consider using insect repellants made with DEET or picaridin.

5. As a preventative measure, some medical experts have suggested prescribing antibiotics in the past. However, those same experts are thinking twice, considering all the problems connected with increased antibiotic resistance and eradicating the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

6. A growing number of studies have found consistently taking a probiotic at least two days before a long-distance trip can boost your immune system naturally, and help you and your family avoid traveler’s diarrhea.

For healthy adults, taking a probiotic formulated with multiple strains of bacteria like EndoMune on an empty stomach about a half-hour before eating your morning meal may boost your immune system and promote optimal gut health.

Also, if you must take an antibiotic on the road, be sure to delay taking a probiotic by two hours. Doing so will reduce the risk of antibiotics destroying the live, beneficial bacteria contained in a probiotic that preserve and protect your gut health.

10 Reasons Everyone Should Take a Probiotic

With 100 trillion bacteria and many different species of microflora floating around in our intestinal tract, a balance of good and bad bacteria is necessary to maintain the normal functioning of our immune system and intestines, as well as to promote optimal health.

Considering the recent attention being paid to probiotics—many positive medical studies have been reported in the mainstream media—more people are asking why they need to take a probiotic to protect and improve their overall health.

Here are 10 reasons to take a probiotic for your good health:

1. Your body is under constant attack externally (from exposure to bad bacteria) and internally (our go-go lifestyles hinder our eating habits). Taking a good probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of good bacteria, is the safest, easiest and most effective way to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in your body.

2. The human body cannot replenish the various strains of live and beneficial bacteria your body needs every day to stay healthy just by eating foods like yogurt, miso soup, pickles and sauerkraut that usually contain limited amounts of a single strain of bacteria. This is especially true if you’re using probiotics to treat a specific health problem.

3. Probiotics containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria are more effective in treating a range of health-based problems, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, immune function and respiratory tract infections, according to a 2011 analysis of studies.

4. A growing number of studies are showing how taking a probiotic can be beneficial for patients when they are prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotic. Antibiotics can often disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in patients’ bodies, causing unwelcome side effects like diarrhea.

5. Taking a good probiotic boosts patients’ natural defenses, protecting them from traveler’s diarrhea, too.

6. New moms can sidestep the prolonged crying and discomfort from their babies suffering infantile colic by giving them a high-quality probiotic.

7. Recent studies have been linked with taking a high-quality probiotic to beneficial effects on the gut-brain axis that may positively affect your emotions and help you beat depression.

8. The healthy bacteria contained in a good probiotic help maintain normal intestinal motility and lessen the problems of constipation.

9. Reducing your risks of colon cancer is as simple as taking a good probiotic.

10. Probiotics are a newfound weapon that may assist in lowering elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels that contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Recover Faster from Stomach Flu with Probiotics

In addition to the regular flu and winter cold, the stomach flu, called a norovirus, is making the rounds. Noroviruses cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and other stomach ailments. After one person in the family gets a norovirus, it quickly spreads to the other family members. In addition to staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, physicians suggest you take a probiotic to speed up your recovery.

By taking a daily probiotic, you are replacing the healthy bacteria that the virus is flushing from your system so you can fight it and feel better faster. A recent review of more than 60 studies involving more than 8,000 children and adults showed that probiotics can lessen the severity of the symptoms and improve recovery time without any harmful side effects. Controlled trials also found that probiotics can shorten the time you suffer from diarrhea by one day and decrease your risk of dehydration.

Before you catch a stomach bug, try taking EndoMune Advanced as part of your daily regimen. You might recover faster if you get a norovirus and reduce your chances of becoming sicker due to a loss of fluids.

Celebrate Holiday Gut Health

The holiday season is upon us and that means traveling, eating rich foods and celebrating with family and friends. With all these activities, there is no time to have an unhappy tummy. Taking a daily probiotic can help maintain the normal intestinal activity despite the changes in diet, hectic schedule and travel.

Dependent upon the vacation destination, traveler’s diarrhea can be a problem. Studies have found that probiotics can help enhance normal intestinal immunity and maintain the good bacteria to help in our digestion.  In addition, probiotics can lessen the risk of contracting traveler’s diarrhea by 30-40%; therefore, everyone should make it part of their “travel insurance.”

Traveling and visiting family and friends does increase the risk of picking up cold and flu viruses.  By taking a daily probiotic, it can lessen the risk of catching these infections, especially for children.

The bottom line is, enjoy the holidays and consider taking a daily dose of EndoMune Advanced.  If you have children, give them an EndoMune Jr. It may help to protect their GI and respiratory systems.

 

Antibiotics: Are They Helping or Hurting

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found a link between increased antibiotic use and clostridium difficile, a diarrhea causing bacteria. According to the researchers, antibiotics wipe out the good bacteria that fight against infections and, as a result, cause a rise in c. difficile infections.

Data collected from the 13.7 million hospitalized children concluded that nearly 46,000 children that suffered from c. difficile infections were more likely to have an extended hospital stay. In addition, these children had an increased chance of partial or full colon removal and a greater risk of death.

The researchers also reviewed data from 1.3 million hospitalized adults with the same c. difficile infection that resulted in a similar conclusion. Adults 65 years of age and older suffering from the infection also had an increased chance of death.

All antibiotics are not bad. It is important to note that antibiotics are an essential treatment for varying illnesses when deemed necessary. Probiotics, like EndoMune Advanced, help lessen the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

For more information about the study and its preliminary conclusions, read the full article here.

How to get rid of diarrhea

Taking probiotics may be helpful in preventing diarrhea, but a review of more than 63 studies by the Cochrane Library suggests that it can help to get rid of diarrhea quicker.

This review of nearly 8,000 patients — including 56 focused on infants and young children — concluded the use of probiotics shortened the course of diarrhea by a day, and reduced the duration of diarrhea lasting more than four days by 59 percent.

Also, probiotics decreased the chances of spreading the diarrhea infection and relieved discomfort.

Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum — both critical strains of beneficial bacteria contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior, –were among the strains of probiotic bacteria used in the studies.

Researchers found no difference between the strains of probiotic bacteria used as all the strains proved to be safe and beneficial to the study participants.

“A striking finding of this review is that most trials reported that probiotics reduced diarrhea,” said lead researcher Stephen Allen of the School of Medicine at Swansea University, UK, according to a press release. “The beneficial effect was consistent and significant across many different types of trials.”

Be wary of standard diarrhea treatments

Unfortunately, three of the more popular ways to treat diarrhea — taking an antibiotic or an over-the-counter medication or eating specific foods — may not be as safe or reliable and create more health complications you’ll want to avoid, especially if your child is at risk.

For example, some health experts advise taking antibiotics, but only if bacteria or parasites trigger diarrhea. Yet, antibiotics can cause great harm not only by disrupting the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut but by promoting the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs like C. diff infections.

Also, taking an over-the-counter drug like loperamide (Imodium) or bismuth-subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol) only treats diarrhea, but not the underlying cause of the problem. Plus, you should be very careful if your child has the flu or chickenpox that you don’t treat him/her with medicines that contain bismuth-subsalicylate due to their link to Reye syndrome, a rare but very serious disease.

Plus, the verdict is very much mixed about the value of following the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast), particularly for children because it doesn’t contain enough nutrients to help their guts recover from diarrhea.

However, taking a probiotic is one of most effective ways, not only to shorten the duration of diarrhea, but to give your body a healthy boost to its natural defenses to prevent it altogether.

The real trick about probiotics: There’s a huge difference between taking a probiotic containing single or multiple strains of beneficial bacteria.

A growing number of studies have shown taking a multi-species probiotic like EndoMune — containing 10 strains beneficial bacteria plus a prebiotic– are effective in treating a host problems in addition to diarrhea, including IBS, respiratory tract infections and immune functioning. More information about traveler’s diarrhea can be found here.

 

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