Health benefits of probiotics in nursing
Probiotics are becoming a growing alternative treatment to common medical problems in the world. There is also new information in the form of trials and studies that suggest new benefits that have never been seen before. Probiotics have been controversial in the past for treating patients due to lack of research and also suffering from the stigma of not being a traditional form of medicine in the medical field. The growing demand for healthcare in the world and the need for alternative forms of treatments will only increase the popularity of probiotics.
Probiotics have been found to aid in the prevention or treatment of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Maintaining the proper balance of probiotic bacteria has a cleansing effect on the body, which in turn helps prevent diseases that can spring from toxic overload, including autoimmune disease, allergy, and cancer (Mindell, 2004). Probiotics have been proven to enhance nutrient absorption in the body. The gastrointestinal tract benefits from probiotics in the production of enzymes that help break down food.
Probiotics have been used to treat the condition known as Clostridium Difficile. Clostridium Difficile can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. The following is a case in which probiotics were used to treat and cure this particular condition after traditional treatment was proved ineffective. The subject is a five year old boy with a history of chronic ear infections. The past treatment history would expose the patient to high levels of antibiotic doses. This treatment caused the normal flora in the patient's intestine to become eradicated. The patient then developed Clostridium Difficile. The patient started to show signs of bloody stools, pain, and fever. The normal treatment for this condition is very limited to types of conventional drugs. This is due to the fact that most antibiotic treatments would just make the condition worse or be ineffective at most. The patient was placed on the first round of treatment with the drug known as Flagyl. Flagyl is a medication used to treat infections that are harder to fight with conventional antibiotics. The first course of treatment had no effect for the patient. After a second round of treatment with still no proven change in condition the patient was put on the drug known as Vancomycin.
Vancomycin is considered a secondary treatment and final round to treat Clostridium Difficile. The patient still did not respond to the secondary form of traditional treatment. The parents of the five year old boy were told that all known convectional treatments were applied and they all had failed. The parents were sent home with no other course of treatment to help their son. The parents then did research on their own and discovered other alternative forms of treatment for this condition in the form of probiotics. The parents found a chemist that did research in the area of probiotic treatments for various problems that people suffer from in everyday life. The research was done mainly in the area related to specific gastro problems. The chemist would formulate a high concentration of a specific probiotic that was targeted to treat the specific ailment. This high concentration can only be formulated in a lab and is not available for sale on the general market for consumers. The parents discussed their case with the chemist to decide which probiotic would be used. He recommended a combination of Saccharomyces boulardii, Acidophilus, and finally Rhamnosus. These three probiotic combinations have shown effective treatment against Clostridium Difficile when joined together and targeted in high concentration dosages. The chemist created the treatment in a powder form. The powder then would be administered in a shake for the child to drink. The results were seen in less then a couple of days. The child stopped having bloody stools within two days. The child started to have regularity in the stools within one week after taking the highly concentrated doses. After two weeks the child was weaned down to a level of maintenance concentration to maintain stomach flora until the body would eventually return to normal natural levels of flora by itself. The child was back to normal after one month of probiotic treatment.
There are many food sources that contain natural but small amounts of probiotics. Food historians speculate that yogurt was first made accidentally, when milk was left inside goatskin bags and fermented by wild bacteria (Huffnagle, 2007). Products sold in the United States as yogurt must be fermented with the probiotic good bacteria named Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus (Huffnagle, 2007). Fermented cheese contains live probiotics. As the cheese ripens, probiotic bacteria produce chemicals that give cheese its flavor, inhibit spoilage, and also create health benefits. Some cereals already contain dried probiotics. There is a new technology called microencapsulation. Food manufacturers will be able to add live probiotic bacteria to dry foods like chips, crackers, and breakfast ceareals which are stored at room temperature with this new technology (Huffnagle, 2007).
There are many other health benefits of having a diet that includes probiotics. Certain probiotic bacteria help alleviate the symptoms of lactose intolerance, relieve diarrhea and constipation, and treat colitus (Gensler 2008). Probiotics can treat rheumatoid arthritis and improve urogenital health. They have also been shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension and also reduce the risk of colon and bladder cancer.
In conclusion, probiotics play a major role in nursing by having the nurse relay critical information to the patient or client on the benefits of probiotics. The nurse can educate the patient on their use and benefits to prevent or even improve a multitude of common health problems they may be experiencing. The nurse can address the patient about probiotics for preventive health or even when traditional treatments have failed.