Probiotics improve diarrhoea symptoms, study shows

Probiotic bacteria can improve symptoms of diarrhoea and reduce the chance of repeat episodes, research shows.

Probiotics in addition to fluids can reduce duration of diarrhoea (Photograph: istock)
Probiotics in addition to fluids can reduce duration of diarrhoea (Photograph: istock)

Rehydration fluids are the usual standard treatment for diarrhoea, but these do not reduce length of illness.

A Cochrane review found that probiotics given in addition to these fluids can reduce duration of diarrhoea and the likelihood of episodes continuing for more than four days.

Last month, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said probiotic drinks could not be shown to improve digestion or boost the immune system as the health claims made by such products were too general.

But a previous Cochrane review suggested probiotics may help patients with diarrhoea by either eliminating or out-competing the bacteria, viruses or parasites responsible.

In the review, researchers assessed data from 63 trials involving 8,014 patients.

Patients treated with probiotics and rehydration fluids experienced one day shorter duration of diarrhoea.

The risk of diarrhoea lasting four or more days also fell by 59%.

Lead researcher Stephen Allen of Swansea University said: ‘There were no adverse effects, so these therapies can be used safely in addition to rehydration fluids.

'However, more research needs to be carried out on the specific strains of bacteria that are effective in treating diarrhoea and on preventing the progression from short-term to persistent diarrhoea.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

The team at Minehead Medical Centre

Somerset GP practice converts to John Lewis-style employee-ownership model

A GP practice in Somerset has become the first in England to operate as a John Lewis-style...

GP consulting room

GPs 'running on empty' as LMC issues third red alert in a month

An LMC has issued its third countywide red alert in four weeks as primary care contends...

Woman holding face in pain

Should GPs treat patients presenting with dental problems?

The MDU's Dr Kathryn Leask considers what GPs should do if a patient presents with...

Conservative Party leadership candidate and foreign secretary Liz Truss

Liz Truss vows to resolve GP pension tax crisis if she becomes prime minister

Liz Truss has affirmed her commitment to resolving the GP pensions crisis but has...

Baby receiving a vaccine in their thigh

JCVI advises changes to routine childhood and HPV immunisation schedules

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended a change...

GP consultation

General practice delivering 'up to double the appointments it is paid for'

General practice in England may be delivering as many as double the number of appointments...