Probiotics: Understanding their health benefits

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Probiotics: Understanding their health benefits

The discovery of antibiotics and their clinical application is considered one of the greatest achievements of medicine of the last century. However, irrational use has led to the loss of effectiveness of these precious medicines.

Antimicrobial resistance and the rapid spread of bacterial resistance to antibiotics today represent a major public health problem, which has been current for a long time and has significantly worsened since the emergence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has left and continues to have major consequences for all countries and their health systems. It is believed that one of the companions of this pandemic is the increased consumption and irrational use of certain groups of antibiotics in primary health care, which increased the consumption of reserve groups of antibiotics in hospitals.

Despite the fact that COVID-19 is a viral disease, antibiotics are prescribed to all patients regardless of the severity of the disease, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. A large number of patients, overloading of health systems, ignorance of the disease itself, lack of effective antiviral drugs, fear of the development of bacterial co-infection have led to an increased prescription of antibiotics.

Numerous studies have reported an unwarranted increase in antibiotic use during the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially accompanied by the rapid development of antibiotic resistance. It is important to point out that antibiotics do not treat viral, but only bacterial infections.

At some point in the pandemic, very soon after the appearance of the viral infection, a so-called superinfection developed, which is the reason for the introduction of antibiotics. However, studies conducted so far show that the use of antibiotics in patients with COVID-19 greatly exceeds the number of proven bacterial superinfections.

The consumption of antibiotics in some European countries decreased during 2020, which was explained by strict adherence to epidemiological measures (masks, physical distance, improved hygiene measures), as well as a decrease in the number of acute respiratory infections not related to COVID-19.

One of the reasons for the reduced use of antibiotics in European countries is the existence of a previously developed action plan.

Unwanted effects

Antibiotics, in addition to being useful, unfortunately also have their unwanted effects.

They are not selective to distinguish good from bad bacteria, so they destroy probiotic bacteria that are normal inhabitants of our intestines. This disrupts the balance and causes a change in the composition and function of the intestinal microflora, which results in accelerated work of the intestines and the appearance of diarrhea (diarrhea).

Clostridia (C. difficile) is a pathogenic bacterium that causes 15-25% of antibiotic-induced diarrhea and almost all cases of pseudomembranous colitis. Probiotic preparations have been suggested as a means of helping to reduce the occurrence of all forms of diarrhea, including those associated with C.

difficile. All world guidelines clearly recommend the mandatory use of probiotics along with antibiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when introduced into the body in a known number, have a beneficial effect on the host's health.

As such, they are extremely sensitive to the influence of external environmental conditions to which they are exposed on a daily basis (moisture, light, oxygen). If, at the time of production, it is packed in a capsule or bag, e.g.

10 billion probiotic cultures, this does not mean that at the end of the shelf life that same capsule will have the same amount of probiotics. On the contrary, probiotics will be present to a significantly lesser extent, and we know that the effectiveness of the product depends on the dose.

Bulardi® by AbelaPharm additionally has an innovative packaging (a-Tech) that provides additional protection from external influences, which guarantees the stability of this probiotic preparation and the declared dose until the end of the shelf life.