November 6, 2008

Probiotics Effective Against Pneumonia

Swedish researchers have reported that a probiotic solution may be used to protect patients against pneumonia.

The solution performed just as well as normal antiseptics used to keep pneumonia-causing bacteria at bay, the journal Critical Care reported.

The bacteria works by blocking the colonization by dangerous bugs of the airways of ventilated patients with fewer side effects.

Lactobacillus plantarum 299 is normally present in saliva and is also commonly found in fermented products like pickles and sauerkraut.

Patients on breathing machines are at a higher risk of being affected by complications including pneumonia. The harmful bacteria from the mouth, throat of breathing tube can be inhaled into the lungs.

Bengt Klarin and colleagues at the University Hospital in Lund, Sweden, compared the probiotic treatment with chlorhexidine in 50 critically ill patients.

Doctors often use chlorhexidine swabs to reduce the risk of pneumonia caused by ventilators.

Researchers found that probiotic treatments appeared to be equally effective at preventing potentially harmful bacteria from flourishing in the mouth and throat.

In addition, a probiotic that adheres to mouth lining will be able to work around the clock, unlike antiseptics which wear off after a few hours, researcher said.

"This is a plausible idea. But we need much larger trials that focus on clinical outcomes to prove it is an effective and affordable treatment," said Bob Marsterton, chair of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy's working party on hospital acquired pneumonia.


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