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Home arrow Health arrow Gut Health arrow Can You Take Probiotics With Antibiotics? An Expert’s Take

Can You Take Probiotics With Antibiotics? An Expert’s Take

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Written by Brenda Peralta, RD
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Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: July 21, 2023
4 min read 1055 Views 0 Comments
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Antibiotics decrease the risk of complications due to harmful bacteria. However, they can affect the gut microbiome. Taking a probiotic supplement with antibiotics can significantly reduce those adverse side effects. We discuss the possible benefits of probiotics while taking antibiotics.

can you take probiotics with antibiotics

Antibiotics are necessary for eliminating harmful bacteria from the body, but they also kill off the good bacteria in the process. This can negatively impact the gut microbiome, which plays a crucial role in regulating the immune system, digestion, and hormones. 

A reduction of good bacteria, known as dysbiosis, can result in digestive issues such as poor digestion, diarrhea, or constipation.

However, this does not mean that you should avoid antibiotics altogether, as the benefits outweigh the negatives. 

Generally, it is recommended to consume high-probiotic foods or take probiotic supplements to restore gut health to counteract antibiotics’ negative effects on the gut microbiome.

In this article, our experts will provide more information on whether taking probiotics with antibiotics is safe.

Can You Take Probiotics With Antibiotics?

Yes, you can take probiotic supplements with antibiotics to help replenish the gut microbiome. In fact, evidence suggests that taking probiotics with antibiotics can reduce the risk of its side effects.

Like any other medication, antibiotics can increase the risk of side effects. Research indicates that those who take antibiotics are particularly at risk of experiencing digestive issues, with diarrhea being one of the most common. 

Additionally, it can also increase the risk of a clostridium difficile infection, which can be life-threatening for the elderly. 

So, will taking probiotics interfere with antibiotics’ ability to kill pathogens? 

Rest assured, taking probiotics alongside antibiotics will not negate the effects of the medication. In fact, studies have shown that combining probiotics with antibiotic therapy can even increase the effectiveness of antibiotics. 

However, not all probiotic strains can withstand antibiotic treatment. The Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families have the most research supporting their use with antibiotics. 

When it comes to other probiotic strains, it doesn’t mean that mixing them with antibiotics will reduce the effectiveness of treating a bacterial infection. As mentioned previously, antibiotics can kill all types of bacteria. 

So, if you include other healthy bacteria from different families, it is unclear if they will survive the process. Ultimately, you may be taking a supplement that is not functioning as it should.

How to Take Probiotics With Antibiotics?

Probiotics can be an effective way to decrease the likelihood of developing antibiotic-associated diarrhea. If you are using probiotic supplements that contain strains from the Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium families, it is safe to take them along with antibiotics. 

Some experts recommend taking the probiotic supplement on an empty stomach in the morning or before bedtime for optimal absorption

However, when taking probiotics and antibiotics together, it is best to consume them with food to avoid any digestive discomfort.

When to Take Probiotics With Antibiotics? 

For the best results in improving gut health, it is recommended to take a probiotic supplement first thing in the morning. For example, you can take it with the antibiotic during breakfast. 

However, if the supplement contains different strains from different families, it is best to take it 2 hours before taking the antibiotic treatment, such as taking the probiotic with breakfast and the antibiotic mid-morning or during lunch. 

On top of that, you can incorporate high-probiotic foods, such as kimchi, into your breakfast to provide an extra boost. 

If you are unsure of the strains contained in the supplement, it is best to take them 2 hours before the antibiotic medication to ensure the best absorption.

When it comes to the duration of probiotic supplementation, it is recommended to continue using the supplement for at least 1–2 weeks after completing the antibiotic treatment. This will allow enough time for the gut microbiome to heal. 

If you didn’t take probiotics with antibiotics, you should start taking them one month after stopping the medication. Remember that you can extend the duration of probiotic supplementation for a few more weeks or even months without any harm. 

Some people even take them daily after taking antibiotics to improve digestion, boost the immune system, and reduce the risk of yeast infection in women.

Should My Doctor Prescribe Probiotics With Antibiotics?

Always remember that antibiotics need a medical prescription. Using antibiotics unsupervised can lead to antibiotic resistance, which can make any future bacterial infections more difficult to handle. So, as a warning, always take only the medication prescribed by your doctor.

When it comes to probiotics, a prescription is not required. However, your doctor can assist you in finding the best supplement for your specific needs.

For instance, if you experience bloating as a side effect of medication, your doctor may recommend the best probiotic for bloating and assist in restoring the gut after taking antibiotics.

FAQs

Do probiotics make antibiotics less effective?

No, taking probiotics doesn’t make antibiotics less effective. In fact, it can decrease the risk of side effects such as diarrhea or clostridium infection. Since antibiotics remove all bacteria within the body, probiotics can help restore gut health.

Can probiotics cause bloating?

Yes, if you are not used to taking probiotics, they might cause some bloating. However, after the body gets used to them, they can actually help reduce bloating, constipation, and problems digesting food.

Should I take probiotics twice a day while on antibiotics?

You can take 2 probiotics twice a day while on antibiotics. However, not all people have a good reaction when first starting to take probiotics. For that reason, it’s best to start with one until your stomach gets used to them. Once it does, you can take it two times a day.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Probiotics are not only available through supplements, but there are also high probiotic foods that you can incorporate to help bring balance to the gut microbiome.

Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, skyr, yakult, sauerkraut, and kimchi are full of probiotic content.

To take advantage of the foods, try to include several options throughout the day. For example, have kombucha one day, and the next time you can try having kimchi for lunch.

Adding different options provides different probiotics and nutrients to keep your body and the gut healthy and balanced.

Taking probiotics with probiotic-rich foods can be the health boost you need to reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

As a recommendation, make sure to add them slowly. Some people might get bloated when adding new supplements or high-probiotic foods. So, start slowly and increase it until you get the desired amount.

Conclusion

Combining a probiotic supplement with antibiotics can decrease the negative side effects of the medication, such as diarrhea, stomach issues, and the risk of a clostridium infection. 

The strains of probiotics that are most resistant to the effects of antibiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. So, whenever you purchase a supplement, make sure they are included. 

If the supplement contains other strains, it is best to take them 2 hours before the antibiotic to avoid any potential impact on the absorption of the probiotics.

Written by Brenda Peralta, RD
Brenda Peralta, RD, is a registered dietitian advisor for Health Reporter. She has several certifications in sports nutrition, health coaching, and women’s health hormones. She presents herself as a fertility advisor and gut specialist.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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