From yogurt to granola bars to cereals and vitamins – probiotics are popping up in more places than ever before, but do you know what probiotics are? Are they good for the overall health of your kids?
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can change the bacterial balance in the human body, mostly the gut. Our gut harbors billions of bacteria naturally, and the good bacteria is believed to overwhelm the unhealthy ones and keep us healthy. Using probiotic supplements or eating food with probiotics added is a way to boost the kind of good bacteria in the body so that it can more easily destroy the harmful bacteria and reduce infection.
What are the Benefits of Probiotics?
When the ratio of good bacteria is altered – for example when a necessary dose of antibiotics has been used – probiotics can help replace the body with good bacteria. If your child has an ear infection or diarrhea that calls for an antibiotic to be used, taking a probiotic supplement can help shorten the symptoms.
Other medical conditions where probiotics may have benefits include irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, infectious diarrhea, or eczema. It’s important to note, though, that the infection-fighting effects of probiotics are only temporary. This is because the probiotics don’t build up in your child’s gastrointestinal system. Once you stop taking the supplement or stop eating the food, it disappears from the GI tract and your gut bacteria levels return to what they were before.
Are Probiotics Safe?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates probiotics as a food product and not as a medicine, so they are not mandated to show that they’re safe or effective. However, probiotics are generally safe. They should not be given to children who are chronically or seriously ill or who have a compromised immune system.
Whether you decide to give your child probiotics in supplement or food form, consult with a pediatrician first – and do your own research. Probiotics won’t cure any of your child’s ailments, but the supplement can provide major health benefits – making it worth the consideration.
Mesa Pediatric Urgent Care and Gilbert Pediatric Urgent Care
Children often present different symptoms than adults and may need different prescriptions and treatments. AllKids pediatric providers are trained to know and recognize these differences, so your child receives the best health care available to them in the most urgent of circumstances. Both our Gilbert Pediatric Urgent Care and our Mesa Pediatric Urgent Care are open every day from noon to 10 pm. No appointment is necessary, just stop in and start your child on the road back to health.