The probiotic and antibiotic connection

The relationship between antibiotics and gut microbiota is complex. Antibi­otics help fight infections and can control bacteria in your gut—both good and bad. But taking high amounts of antibiotics over a more extended period could disrupt the gastrointestinal system and deplete good as well as harmful bacteria.

Depletion of good bacteria from the use of antibiotics is a growing problem among older people, who are more susceptible to infections and may use antibi­otics frequently. In fact, a 2019 poll of 2,256 adults aged 50 to 80 found that half had used antibiotics within the previous two years.

Some doctors try to compensate for this possible bacteria depletion by recommending that patients increase their intake of probiotic foods like yogurt or kefir when using certain types of antibiotics. Another upside to taking probiotics while on antibiotics is that they can reduce diarrhea, a common side effect of some antibiotics.

Depending on the type of antibiotic, it may be best to take probiotics after the antibiotic treatment has ended rather than while you are taking it. Be sure to ask your doctor for advice.