Link Between Probiotics and Respiratory Health
Thursday, 24 November 2016 | Editor
A message from BioCare
A nationwide consumer survey found that two thirds of children were absent from school last year due to the common cold. It was also found that of those children, 50% were prescribed antibiotics to help cure their sym ptoms. It is generally understood that antibiotics are designed to cure bacterial infections, not colds, so is there any other way we can combat colds and coughs effectively?
Respiratory health is a hot topic with the onset of chilly weather. It is estimated that the most common reason for missed work days is due to sickness, with upper respiratory tract infections being the single most common reason for absenteeism at school. Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are characterised by coughs, colds, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, blocked or runny nose. Children can experience 3-8 URTIs per year, with symptoms persisting for up to 10 days. Not only does this have an impact on a child’s education, but also directly affects parents, guardians and careers of children, as this may mean they are forced to forfeit work to care for an ill child.
There are a number of causes of URTIs which is why they are so common and the reason why treatment is often ineffective. It is generally accepted that URTIs can be managed through the use of painkillers, cough syrups and decongestants which aim to ease symptoms as opposed to eliminating the infection. But is there an alternative way URTIs can be managed or even eradicated during the onset of infection?
Studies show that probiotics can reduce the number of days illness in children by 30%
Increasing evidence has supported the notion that probiotics containing Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria may help in reducing the incidence and duration of coughs and colds in children and adults. Out of 20 studies concluded, it was found that probiotics reduced the total number of days of illness by an average of 30% (King et al 20141). The Pro-Child Probiotic Study, published in 2015, set out to test this theory to seek out the effectiveness of probiotics for curing coughs and colds in young children, the most susceptible age group.
Out of 57 children that took part in the study, aged 3-7, 34 were given a LAB4 probiotic, a long with 50mg of vitamin C every day for 6 months. From the evidence it was uncovered that LAB4 probiotics had a significant impact on reducing the symptoms of coughs and colds, by up to 50%. The results also revealed that there was a 33% reduction in the number of episodes, as well as significant reductions in the use of medications and antibiotics, by 50%. It was reported that absenteeism from school had dropped by half, with an average of 14.2 days absence reduced to 7.5 days.
The study successfully confirmed the benefits of probiotics and vitamin C in preventing coughs and colds, and evidence also uncovered that the effects can also be seen in all children up to 8 years old. This highlights the importance of considering a probiotic supplement during term time, to prevent against disease and infection. Not only can this help support a healthy gut and immune system, but probiotics may also help to reduce absenteeism from school, reduce visits to the doctor, reduce the need for medication and antibiotics and reduce the incidence of coughs and colds throughout the year.
King et al. Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Nutrition. 2014; 3: 1-4
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