How Should Probiotics Be Taken with Antibiotics? Gut Protection Insights

Heather Campbell
 min read

How should probiotics be taken with antibiotics? It is now understood that the two are correlated, but how?

How Should Probiotics Be Taken with Antibiotics? Gut Protection InsightsProbiotics are beneficial for our intestinal flora, but did you know that they can also be prescribed to fight against the side effects of antibiotic treatments in some instances?

As a general rule, probiotics should always be taken with antibiotics as the latter can destroy beneficial bacteria. Probiotics will replenish our intestinal microbiota and promote good digestion. They are generally prescribed together with the antibiotic treatment for about 10 days.

Read on to learn how to use antibiotics and probiotics in synergy for optimal effect.

How should probiotics be taken with antibiotics? Introduction

Antibiotics are an effective way to fight infectious diseases. However, it also destroys bacteria that are beneficial to our microbiota. As a result, intestinal disorders or digestive and intimate mycoses may appear.

To get things in order, consuming probiotics seems to be the solution. But can you take probiotics and antibiotics at the same time?

What is a probiotic?

Before knowing the effects of taking antibiotics and probiotics simultaneously, it is essential to define what a probiotic is.

Probiotics are living microorganisms composed mainly of friendly bacteria (such as Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium infantis) but also of viruses, fungi, yeasts, and protozoa.

If ingested in sufficient quantity, they replenish our intestinal microbiota and promote good digestion.

Apart from ailments, some health professionals recommend their use in prevention at each change of season and consume them in a one-month cure.

Probiotics are also found naturally in dairy products, cheese, and yogurt.

Consequences of antibiotic treatment on the microbiota

It is not unusual for your doctor to prescribe antibiotics to treat certain conditions.

Unfortunately, these drugs, which are effective against bacterial infections, do not differentiate between pathogenic microorganisms and the good bacteria and yeasts (the famous probiotics) that make up the microbiota.

When present in sufficient quantities, probiotics form a natural defense barrier against viruses but also against allergens and harmful bacteria in the mouth, intestine, vagina, and vulva.

The role of the microbiota in the digestive tract is to facilitate digestion and thus the absorption of nutrients from the diet.

Certain antibiotics can deplete the intestinal and intimate flora, causing diarrhea, bloating, and sometimes even digestive, vaginal, or vulvar mycosis due to the proliferation of the candida albicans bacteria.

This disorder can occur during any antibiotic therapy, but especially after treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics such as amoxicillin or penicillin.

However, these side effects are temporary and the population of microorganisms living in the intestinal microbiota returns to equilibrium within a few weeks.

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Side effects of antibiotics

Sometimes, the microbiota can be altered when it undergoes an external aggression such as an infectious disease, chemotherapy, or an antibiotic treatment (including penicillin, the most prescribed antibiotic for ENT or respiratory infections).

By attacking the bacteria and viruses in our body, antibiotics will cause various unpleasant and disabling symptoms.

For example, it is possible to suffer from diarrhea, nausea, severe fatigue, or develop a vaginal or oral thrush.

The antibiotic penicillin can sometimes cause an infectious disease called clostridium difficile colitis. It causes significant dehydration at the time but also diarrhea up to two months after stopping the antibiotics.

Taking probiotics in combination with antibiotics reduces the risk of developing this disease by up to 65%.

How to combine probiotics and antibiotics?

In general, a course of probiotics will be prescribed simultaneously as the antibiotic treatment in the form of capsules or sachets to be diluted daily for about 10 days. For people with a fragile digestive system, one month is recommended.

It is essential to take the probiotics a little later than the antibiotic to maximize efficiency. Therefore, it is advised to take the probiotic 2 hours after the antibiotic.

For example, you can take your antibiotic treatment at breakfast and then your probiotic a little later in the morning.

By doing so, you allow your microbiota to maintain its full capacity without the risk of being attacked by antibiotic therapy.

Is it a good idea to take probiotics and antibiotics at the same time?

Although antibiotic therapy can strongly disrupt the microbiota composition, transit disorders or mycoses do not appear systematically.

Taking probiotics and antibiotics simultaneously should be second nature for those who have already experienced this inconvenience.

Nowadays, antibiotics are increasingly combined with oral probiotics as they help the intestinal flora resist the damage caused by antibiotics.

Studies prove a beneficial effect of probiotics consumed to prevent diarrhea and Clostridium difficile infections, a rare but severe complication of antibiotics.

Tips for optimizing probiotic intake during antibiotic therapy

To enrich your microbiota, you can get probiotics naturally from dairy products like yogurt and some cheeses or from lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut.

You can also find them in fermented drinks such as kefir or in the form of brewer’s yeast.

To help these beneficial microorganisms multiply, you can also include prebiotics in your diet and consuming fiber is favorable because it serves as food for probiotics.

Prebiotics are also present in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

To vary and renew your intestinal flora in parallel with antibiotic therapy, you can also consume food supplements containing more than 8 billion microorganisms per dose.

While it is a good idea to take probiotics and antibiotics at the same time, it is not advisable to use them at the same time of day.

If you want probiotics to work optimally to restore good digestion and strengthen your immune system, take them two hours after the antibiotic dosage.

As such, the beneficial actions of living microorganisms are less likely to be minimized by antibiotic therapy.

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Probiotics are not without risk

Although probiotics can reduce the side effects of antibiotics, the side effects of probiotics could also unbalance our intestinal flora.

Studies have shown that in the case of antibiotic treatment, the body takes longer to reconstitute the intestinal flora in people who have used a probiotic than in those who have not.

Therefore, it is recommended to use probiotics sparingly and on a case-by-case basis. For example, when a patient has a fragile intestine or has already experienced significant diarrhea while taking an antibiotic.

A person with a healthy body should be able to replenish their flora naturally by getting the proper nutrients from their diet. Here are some tips to help you do that:

Are probiotics necessary during antibiotic therapy?

It is possible to consume probiotics during antibiotic therapy to help the microbiota cope with antibiotic-induced changes and then restore its balance.

Indeed, when taken at the beginning of treatment, the beneficial effects of probiotics in preventing antibiotic-induced diarrhea have been proven:

  • Clinical research has shown the benefit of probiotics in preventing antibiotic-induced diarrhea and Clostridium difficile infections.
  • Probiotic supplementation (including the Lactobacillus GG strain) has shown a positive impact on the symptoms of Helicobacter pylori infection, including a decrease in diarrhea.

Lactobacillus GG is the most recommended probiotic for diarrhea following antibiotic therapy.

The duration of the probiotic intake can be longer than the duration of the antibiotic therapy because it allows for reinforcing the properties of the microbiota.

How should probiotics be taken with antibiotics? Conclusion

Antibiotics are essential for curing certain diseases, but they can also negatively impact the gut microbiota.

Antibiotics are often prescribed to fight bacterial infections. However, they can also cause mild diarrhea because of an intestinal microbiota imbalance. Namely, because the beneficial bacteria of the microbiota are also destroyed by the antibiotic(s).

Therefore, probiotics are effective in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Moreover, they have few side effects and can rebalance the intestinal flora.

It is definitely possible to take probiotics and antibiotics at the same time. But, as a general rule, it is preferable to ingest the probiotic around 2 hours after the antibiotic to maximize the effect.

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More