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Side Effects of Probiotics

Side Effects of Probiotics

Probiotics are microorganisms that are beneficial to the host organism. Though they are claimed to benefit us in many ways, taking probiotic supplement is associated with some adverse effects.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Probiotics, also referred to as friendly bacteria, are microorganisms that are touted to be beneficial ones. Majority of them are bacterial strains, which resemble those inhabiting the human gastrointestinal tract. They are used in the formulation of dietary supplements, taken for improving the overall health. At times, the physician recommend them along with conventional medications. In such a case, probiotic is considered as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Doctors usually prescribe probiotics during or after antibiotic treatment, so as to restore the loss of beneficial bacteria.
Probable Side Effects of Probiotics
Despite the claims regarding health benefits of probiotics, the safety of such therapeutic formulations is still a question among users. More clinical trials are to be conducted for confirmation of their therapeutic applications and side effects. The fact is, they are marketed as dietary supplements and there is no strict regulation for release of probiotics in the market. Unlike the treatment drugs and medications, the ingredients used and production method of these supplements are not scrutinized properly.

As of date, severe health complications related to probiotic intake are not reported. In healthy people, taking a recommended dose of these supplements does not cause any significant side effect.
  • Rarely, they lead to mild digestive problems like flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
  • If probiotics are taken in an increased dose, there are chances of developing headache and infections.
  • In addition, taking a high dose of probiotics may disturb the normal metabolic processes and autoimmune responses of the body. So, one can gradually increase the intake dose, only after the doctor's approval.
  • In case of people having an underlying disease or a compromised immune system, probiotics may lead to potential health problems. In fact, they are at a higher risk of developing infection after the use of probiotics. After all, these supplements contain live organisms and ingesting them may alter the flora balance of the body. Symptoms such as bloody stool, skin rash, and fever are indications of intestinal infection.
  • According to medical studies, there is a possibility that probiotics interact with immunosuppressive medications, leading to life-threatening conditions. Hence, those who are on immunosuppressive drugs should strictly avoid these supplements.

It is to be noted that the effects of a particular probiotic vary from others. Always consult a qualified physician before deciding which one is good for you. The issue is about selecting the specific probiotic strain suited for the purpose of taking it. As there are no standard regulations for manufacturing probiotic products, one major concern is the contamination of toxic chemicals or other unwanted substances. So, go through the product label carefully and check the ingredients at the time of buying. A simple solution is to purchase it from a reliable source.
Therapeutic Uses
Although probiotics were used in the food and alcohol fermentation since centuries, they had been introduced for medicinal application only in the 20th century. They are administered for effective treatment of various health problems such as lactose intolerance, candidiasis, skin allergies, food allergies, premature labor, diarrhea, intestinal infection, constipation, vaginitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and leaking gut. According to research studies, taking them in appropriate doses promotes a healthy digestive system and immune system. They also opine that probiotics help in regulating cholesterol level and blood pressure. Commercially, probiotics are found in the form of tablets, powders, capsules, and other supplemental forms.
To sum up, probiotics should not be taken as a replacement option for prescribed medications. Strictly follow the doctor's advice regarding the type of probiotic to be taken, its dose, and intake period. In case of any symptom manifested after administering probiotics, one should seek medical attention. Skin rashes and mild stomach discomfort may subside after 1 - 2 days. But , if they persist, stop taking the supplement and talk to the concern doctor immediately.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.