Broad spectrum antibiotics are designed to kill all bacteria, which includes both probioitcs (beneficial bacteria) and pathogens (harmful bacteria). Probiotics, and a range of other bacteria have been colonizing your digestive system from the day you were born, and over the years have developed a very complex and diverse ecosystem with a huge variety of bacteria (some good, some bad and some neutral). The probiotics keep the population of bad bacteria low, support our immune system, aid with digestion and promote overall health. Probiotics are more susceptible to the effects of antibiotics than the majority of pathogens, and so a course of antibiotics will almost defiantly kill all the probiotic population. Some pathogens such as C.difficile (which is present in everyone digestive system) is very resistant to the effects of antibiotics, and will survive most courses of antibiotics.
C. difficile is a spore forming bacteria which produces a number of toxins and is the primary cause of antibiotic associated diarrhoea (AAD). It is able to defends itself from antibiotics by forming highly resistant spores. These spores remain dormant in the digestive system, and will germinate after the course of antibiotics is over. This allows C.difficile to repopulate the digestive system quicker than other bactereia, and becomes a dominant species. This can prevent probiotics colonizing the digestive system, as these pathogens will compete for food as well as produce toxins which can kill probiotics. This means that after a course of antibiotics the balance of bacteria in the digestive system has changed, and is now dominated with pathogenic bacteria, which, if left untreated can lead to illness and in rare cases death.
How to treat & prevent
The easiest way to prevent the damage of broad spectrum antibiotics is avoid using them, however, this is not always possible. If a course of antibiotics is needed, it is important to try and repopulate the probiotic population in the gut immediatly afterthe course of antibiotics is over. The best way to do this is consuming a combination of probiotics drinks, yoghurt and probiotics supplements. It is also important to eat prebiotics, which selectively promote the activity and growth of probiotic bacteria. prebiotics are found in a number of fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, garlic and asparagus.
Broad-spectrum antibiotics are being used too often in modern medicine, and because of their potential negative health affects should only be taken as when they are needed. As probiotics are move vulnerable to antibiotics, it is important to quickly repopulate the digestive system with them. This can be done by eating foods high in probiotics and prebiotics.