Could Your Probiotic Be Making You Sicker
A spread of colorful pills.
Mindy D. had suffered from constipation for years when her gastroenterologist advised her, at 38, to take a popular over-the-counter probiotic. Over the next two years, she experimented with different dosages, sometimes taking it three times a day. But she kept getting sickersometimes so ill she couldn’t work.
“We shouldn’t just presume probiotics are safe.”
Her symptoms improved only after she traveled from Long Island to Georgia to see Satish S. C. Rao, a gastroenterologist at Augusta University. “The key thing was taking her off probiotics and treating her with antibiotics,” he says.
That solution sounds bizarre, if, like many, you believe that antibiotics are bad and probiotics good. Millions of Americans take probioticslive bacteria deemed usefulassuming there can be only positive effects. The truth is that you really don’t know how any probiotic will affect you. To quote the American Gastroenterological Association Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education, “It remains unclear what strains of bacteria at what dose by what route of administration are safe and effective for which patients.”
It’s fineunless it isn’t. “Probiotics are capable of altering the microbiome in unpredictable ways,” explains Leo Galland, an internist in New York who specializes in difficult digestions. “I’ve had patients who got gas and bloating, constipation or diarrhea from probiotics.”
Your Microbiome Is Unique
Probiotics: Who Shouldn’t Take Them
Some people find that taking probiotics causes symptoms like gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. For most people, these symptoms are temporary however, side effects are more likely in those who are very young or elderly and those who have less robust immune systems or a damaged immune system, such as those with HIV or a terminal illness. Indeed, probiotics might not be good for people who are already extremely ill.
A general concern is that probiotics are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration , Lucak says. Instead, they are classified as a food supplement, so the health claims of the manufacturers are not subject to verification and may not be accurate. As a result, evidence also suggests that the strains and concentration per dose can be inaccurate from company to company and even from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
Keep in mind that the effects of one strain of probiotics do not necessarily hold true for other strains or even for different preparations of the same species or strain. If you do experience gas and bloating from one type of probiotic, you can try switching to a different kind to see whether it agrees more with your digestive system.
Because the quality and quantity of probiotics is not regulated by the FDA, it is difficult to accurately assess the effectiveness of one formulation against another, Lucak says.
Middle Of The Abdomen
The upper middle part of the abdomen contains the liver, the cardiac region of the stomach, part of the body of the stomach, the pyloric region of the stomach, and the pancreas.
The liver filters blood and creates bile, which is a substance that helps in the breakdown and absorption of fat in the foods you eat.
The cardiac region of the stomach is where food enters from the esophagus.
The pyloric region of the stomach is the last part of the stomach before food enters into the duodenum of the small intestine.
The pancreas is a large glandular organ that releases digestive enzymes and hormones.
The lower middle part of the abdomen contains the urinary bladder, rectum, and anus.
The urinary bladder is the organ that collects urine for excretion out of the body through the urethra.
The rectum goes into the anus, the final section of the large intestine that carries stool for excretion from the body.
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What Are The Symptoms And Causes Of Indigestion
Most of us have experienced indigestion and its symptoms, for example, upper abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, belching, nausea, vomiting, and the feeling of fullness after only eating a few bites. There are common causes of indigestion like GERD or pregnancy. More serious causes include cancers or heart attack.
The best way to relieve and even prevent symptoms of stomach bloating and gas, is a healthy diet and regular exercise, however, there are many things you can do to prevent and relieve bloating and gas.
Things That May Be Causing Your Abdominal Pain
When youre going about your day and you get that all-too-familiar sensation of discomfort or pain in your abdomen, it can be incredibly disruptive. Almost everyone has experienced uncomfortable stomach aches or digestion problems at some point.
Abdominal pain is common and stems from a number of issues, but that doesnt mean abdominal pain should stop you in your tracks on a regular basis.
At Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County, our team of gastroenterologists can identify whether the cause of your abdominal pain is serious and develop a treatment plan that relieves your symptoms.
Discover 10 of the most common causes of abdominal pain, and when you should see a gastroenterologist for your symptoms.
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Most Common Side Effects Of Probiotics
Despite their proven health benefits , for those who dont tolerate them, the most common side effects of probiotics we see in our clients are: > Gas > Looser stools > Abdominal pain
I really want to emphasize that the vast majority of these side effects of probiotics are experienced only temporarily and/or by those with a chronic gut infection or severe dysbiosis, and heres why…
If the side effects of probiotics you are experiencing are actually the result of die-off during a protocol, weve written an entire blog post HERE explaining the mechanism and ways to manage these detox reactions.
Can Lactobacillus Acidophilus And Other Probiotics Cause Bloating And Gas
The sudden rush of extra bacteria can cause gas. Dont worry, this wont last forever. This is probably just a result of your body adjusting, and will subside within a weeks time. You might also have mild diarrhea when you first start taking probiotics. Its likely this is also just an adjustment phase, and nothing more serious. But if your frequent bathroom trips persist, you should contact your doctor.
This isnt just a probiotic supplement thing. Eating large amounts of probiotic foods like yogurt can also cause similar side effects. Luckily, Jetson is about quality over quantity when it comes to bacteria counts.
In fact, 85% of people who take Jetson Fit tell us they actually feel less bloating after just a week of taking them. Try it out for a month now and receive a 40% credit toward your first month of our multi-benefit Seasonal Probiotics Subscription. Or go ahead and get your Seasonal Subscription now and try Fit when we start shipping it June 20th.
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You Struggle To Keep Food Down
Whether you have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea with your pain, if you cant keep food down and the pain lasts for several hours, Alaedeen says you should seek medical attention.
That could lead to a cycle of dehydration, which can make the pain worse and make nausea and vomiting worse, he explains. Thats very worrisome if the pain is accompanied by severe nausea/vomiting and/or if the pain is increasing in intensity and duration.
What Does The Research Say
Probiotic bacteria used in supplements should have been extensively clinically trialed in human subjects. Always recommend supplements which name the strains of bacteria, not just the species.
In clinical trials, where adverse events are recorded, there were no statistically significant increased adverse events in the probiotic group compared to the placebo group. They both had good tolerability, with few adverse events7,8,3,9.
In a review of 627 studies8 using probiotic agents 235 stated non-specific safety statements such as well tolerated and the remaining 287 reported the presence or absence of specific adverse events .
The conclusion of this review based on the available evidence showed no statistically significant increased risk of the overall number of adverse events associated with short term probiotic use versus control group participants. However, rare adverse events are difficult to assess.
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When Taken In Excess Probiotics Can Be Dangerous
People at higher risk for adverse effects, like infection, of taking too many probiotics are those with serious illnesses or weakened immune systems, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
If you fall into either of those categories, it’s important to consult your doctor before taking probiotics.
It Could Be Constipation
While youre spending a lot of time at home, you may not be moving as much as you usually do. You may also be eating different foods. This can lead to constipation. You may be constipated if you experience:
- Fewer bowel movements than normal for you
- Stool that is lumpy or looks like pebbles
- Difficulty passing stool or a feeling that you still need to go after youre finished
Fortunately, you can make a number of at-home changes to help relieve your constipation. These include:
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Increased Risk Of Infection
review from 2017 suggest that children and adults with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems should avoid using probiotics. Some people with these conditions have experienced bacterial or fungal infections as a result of probiotic use.
If a person has a condition that affects their immune system, they should speak with their doctor before taking probiotics.
Also, anyone using antifungal medication should wait until the infection has cleared up before taking probiotics.
Stop Or Lower The Dose
With the introduction of new bacteria the gut microbiome needs time to adapt.
Start slowly by taking less than the recommended dosage.
If the recommended dosage is three pills a day, take one and see how you’re body reacts to it.
Build up, layer by layer, to the recommended dosage over a couple of days or a week.
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What Should I Do If I Suspect Indigestion Or A Stomach Ulcer
The first step you should take if you think you may have chronic indigestion or a stomach ulcer is make an appointment with Prima Medicine. Our goal is to provide you with relief from the unpleasant symptoms that both conditions can cause as well as keep you healthy by working to prevent further complications.
To arrive at a diagnosis, your Prima Medicine team member will evaluate your medical history and symptoms and conduct a comprehensive physical exam. Your provider may also order a stool test, breath test, and blood work.
Your provider may also order an endoscopy, in which a flexible tube is inserted through your throat, down your esophagus, and into your stomach to take images and samples. Once your diagnosis is confirmed, your Prima Medicine provider will work with you to create a customized plan to treat your indigestion or ulcer issues.
If youre suffering from chronic indigestion or the symptoms of a stomach ulcer, we can help get you well. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today. We can also schedule telehealth appointments.
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Bloating And Probiotics Whats The Connection
Probiotic bacteria are active against harmful microorganisms. When someone starts consuming probiotics, harmful microorganisms can start to die producing gas. Fungi can create much gas in the gut. However, gas production does not happen quickly. When the next meal, gas produced from the previous meal is often the cause of feeling bloated.
Yeast is another cause of bloating. In the case of probiotics, go slow. Try a capsule every second day, or dissolve a capsule in a glass of juice and drink slowly during the day.
Bloating or gas from probiotics is harmless, it usually is a good sign. Why?
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Are There Different Kinds Of Probiotics For Bloating
There are different kinds of probiotics on the market today, including ones that are great for bloating and ones that may have little impact on bloating but can help in other ways. In order to effectively supplement your body, you need to take into consideration what typically causes your bloating is it fats, proteins, or carbohydrates?
Bloating is most commonly caused by either lactose or leafy greens. Lactose is found in most dairy products, that can cause bloating and typically leads to diarrhea or gas if there is a sensitivity to it. Alpha-galactosidase is what gives us gas after eating beans, broccoli, and kale. Of course, there are many other causes of bloating.
Probiotics for bloating help your body to bring in the nutrients from the foods that cause bloating without getting them caught up in your digestive tract. Which is what can lead to that embarrassing gas or constipation as well as diarrhea.
A Recent Study Shows A Surprising Link Between Probiotics And Brain Fog
Probiotics have become a common way to treat conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, and various formulations even have decent medical data in their favor. However, some patients take probiotics and feel even worse. Symptoms can include cramping, gassiness, diarrhea, fatigue, and even brain fog or memory problems. Often these symptoms intensify just after a meal. Recently, a group of researchers in Augusta, Georgia made an attempt to try to figure out what was going on. The study is open access, so take a look.
They followed a group of patients who presented to their GI clinic of a period of three years. Anyone who came in with gas, bloating, and a complaint of brain fog were included in the study. All people on antibiotics, those with a history of short gut after colon surgery, or those with other reasons for gassiness or abdominal pain were excluded. A few patients who didn’t have brain fog but had abdominal symptoms were included for comparison. The researchers were left with a cohort of about 42 patients with abdominal bloating, 34 with bloating and brain fog, and no known reason why. The cognitive symptoms usually lasted between 30 minutes to several hours after a meal, and in 13% were so severe that the patients had quit their jobs.
In a few weeks, I’ll be attending the Harvard Probiotics Symposium, and I’ll be sure to get back to you with the latest developments, strides forward, disappointments, and surprises.
Copyright Emily Deans MD
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Bad Bacteria Don’t Go Quietly
The human microbiome is a very sensitive organism. Introducing billions of new bacteria into your microbiome is going to have an impact.
First of all, probiotics can help balance our digestion by replenishing the good bacteria in our gut.
They also make our digestive tract a less welcoming place for harmful bacteria such as h.pylori and salmonella to live in
However, harmful bacteria live in readiness to cause havoc and disease at the smallest opportunity.
As probiotics force out these unwelcome guests they don’t go quietly, especially if they’ve been squatting in the digestive tract for long time.
That’s why evicting super bugs from the gut can result in excessive gas and bloating.
How To Distinguish A Regular Bloat From A Sign Of Cancer
For bloating to be a cause for concern, it generally needs to have lasted for more than two weeks in a month, saids Monique Swain, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, writing in an editorial on the medical website Health.
If bloating is persistent and does not vary with changing eating habits or bowel movements, it is a good idea to seek medical care, added Alex Hewlett, DO, associate professor of medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in the same article.
Another telltale sign that bloating could be a sign of ovarian cancer is a change in your toilet habits.
Out-of-the-ordinary bowel or urinary issues is a sign that something is wrong.
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For example, you might suddenly need to go to the bathroom more urgently if a mass is big enough and pressing on the bladder, said Dr Swain.
Bloating can also signal advanced bowel cancer.
As Cancer Research UK explains, advanced bowel cancer can sometimes cause swelling of the tummy .
This is due to a build up of fluid in the tummy .
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