Although antibiotics are an effective way to treat bacterial infections, they can disturb the ecological balance within the human body, leading to unintended side effects and an increased risk of certain infections. Taking probiotics, either in the form of certain foods or supplements, along with antibiotics such as clindamycin, can help reduce the risk of these adverse effects.
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Clindamycin Side Effects
When you consume clindamycin or any other antibiotic, the medication kills bacteria throughout the body. Although this is the purpose of clindamycin, this drug also kills some of the bacteria that are naturally found in the digestive tract. This can cause patients to be prone to developing infections, including pseudomembranous colitis, an intestinal infection caused by Clostridium difficile, Drugs.com notes. In severe cases, pseudomembranous colitis can cause a condition known as toxic megalocolon, a potentially life-threatening disorder.
How Probiotics Work
Probiotics are a sort of blanket term for organisms that you can ingest to increase the levels of beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms in your body. Many probiotics contain bacteria from the Lactobacillus genus, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus GG. Taking probiotics can help replenish the bacteria that are lost as a result of antibiotic use, according to a study in the 2012 issue of "BMC Microbiology."
A study published in a 2003 issue of the "British Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy" tested the effectiveness of probiotics for people taking clindamycin. This study had healthy volunteers take clindamycin and also gave some of the participants yogurt with probiotic bacteria. Patients taking the probiotics had less of a disturbance in their intestinal bacteria than those who did not receive probiotics. Probiotics also lowered levels of Escherichia coli in the feces of patients, though this study did not examine the frequency with which the patients developed infections or gastrointestinal problems.
In addition to their role in preventing infections, the bacteria in your digestive tract play an important role in digestion and breaking down other compounds. According to a 2009 article in the "The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine," one of these tasks is breaking down cholesterol in the digestive tract into substances which are excreted in the feces. Thus, antibiotics such as clindamycin can inhibit this process, causing more cholesterol to be absorbed and transported into the blood. This study also found that taking probiotics helped keep cholesterol levels from rising during antibiotic therapy.