Researchers believe that some digestive disorders happen when the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestines becomes disturbed. This can happen after an infection or after taking antibiotics. Taking probiotics may help.
In 2011, experts at Yale University reviewed the research. They concluded that probiotics are most effective for:
- Treating childhood diarrhea
- Treating ulcerative colitis
- Treating necrotizing enterocolitis, a type of infection and inflammation of the intestines mostly seen in infants
- Preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea and infectious diarrhea
- Preventing pouchitis, an inflammation of the intestines that can follow intestinal surgery
- Treating and preventing eczema associated with cow’s milk allergy
- Helping the immune system
The Yale University panel of experts concluded that probiotics may be helpful in other ways, although the evidence is less convincing. These include:
- Treating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
- Treating vaginitis
- Treating diarrhea caused by C. difficile bacteria
- Treating Crohn's disease
Probiotics may also be useful in unexpected ways. A study published in 2010 suggests that probiotics may lower the risk of common childhood illnesses such as ear infections, strep throat, and colds.