Probiotics Found to Block Pneumonia in Critically Ill Patients

Probiotics Found to Block Pneumonia in Critically Ill Patients

Probiotics are just as effective as conventional antiseptics at suppressing pneumonia-causing bacteria in the mouths of critically ill patients, according to a study conducted by researchers from
University Hospital in Lund, Sweden, and published in the journal Critical Care.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide a health benefit inside the body.

Pneumonia is a well-known risk of being placed on a ventilator for assisted breathing, and often occurs when bacteria from the mouth are inhaled into the lungs from the mouth through the
breathing tube. To prevent this from occurring, hospitals regularly swab the mouths of breathing tube patients with the antiseptic clorhexidine. Some patients, however, may have allergic
reactions to this drug, while a small number of bacteria are resistant the drug.

Probiotics, in contrast, improve the body’s own immune system rather than acting on the infectious bacteria directly. In contrast to antiseptics, which must be reapplied every few hours, a single
probiotic swab can remain effective for 24 hours.

In the current study, researchers treated 25 critically ill patients using breathing tubes with the standard care of tooth brushing, suction to remove mouth secretions and a twice-a-day swab with
clorhexidine. They treated 25 others with the same care, but replaced the clorhexidine swab with one of carbonated water and then Lactobacillus plantarum 299 (Lp299).

Lp299 naturally occurs in the human mouth, as well as in fermented food products such as pickles and sauerkraut.

Prior to using the antiseptic or probiotic swab on days 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 14 and 21 of the study (which began for each patient at the same time as ventilation), the researchers swabbed each
participant’s mouth for bacterial culturing. They found no significant difference in the bacterial content of the mouths of patients who had been treated with probiotics and those who had
received an antiseptic swab. Patients receiving probiotics also spent the same amount of time on ventilation and in the hospital, and had the same risk of death as those receiving the

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