Increasing the levels of "healthy" bacteria in your digestive tract, via probiotics, can help prevent some infections and also improve the overall health of your gastrointestinal tract. Different doses of probiotic supplements have been used for different purposes, but you should talk to your doctor before taking any sort of probiotic supplement.
To understand the different uses of probiotics and dosages, you need to understand what probiotics are. Most probiotic supplements contain bacteria that are very similar to those found in your digestive tract, and some of the most commonly used probiotic supplements are from the Lactobacillus genus of bacteria. The purpose of probiotics is to increase the levels of these naturally occurring bacteria in your gut, which can help to maintain the health of your gastrointestinal tract. These bacteria can help treat or prevent some kinds of diarrhea and are also used for other problems.
Probiotic supplements are often used to treat health problems in infants and children. For children who have diarrhea due to a rotavirus infection, 5 to 10 billion live Lactobacillus GG bacteria are commonly used. Other kinds of diarrhea in children can be treated with 10 to 100 billion Lactobacillus reuteri given daily for 5 days. A dose of 6 billion live Lactobacillus GG daily can be used to prevent diarrhea in children. Probiotics in doses of 5 billion organisms of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium have also been used to prevent respiratory infections in children who go to daycare.
Adults can also take probiotics to maintain the health of their digestive tract. Doses of 1.25 billion organisms of Lactobacillus GG have been used to treat diarrhea caused by a C dificile infection. You can also consume 2 billion colonies of this bacteria to prevent "traveler's diarrhea." Other recommended doses include 10 to 20 billion organisms of Lactobacillus GG for chemotherapy-related diarrhea, 3 g of a specific strain known as VSL#3 for ulcerative colitis and 10 billion Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria daily for treating irritable bowel syndrome.
Although most probiotic supplements are well tolerated, taking probiotics can cause gas and abdominal discomfort, especially during initial use of probiotics. Although the bacteria do not usually cause infections, patients who have very weakened immune systems or who have artificial heart valves should also exercise caution before taking probiotic supplements, as these conditions increase your risk of developing severe infections. Talk to your doctor before taking any kind of probiotic supplement.
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