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No one likes getting a cold but few interventions have been proven to prevent them, so researchers are always interested in new options.
In this review, researchers looked at 14 randomized controlled trials including 3,451 participants to see if there was a link between probiotic use and the onset of acute upper respiratory infections such as sinusitis, sore throat (pharyngitis), and the common cold.
Results showed that people who took probiotics for at least seven days were less likely to get sick and less likely to need antibiotics compared with people who took placebo.
According to the study authors, overall the research reviewed was weak due to small numbers of study participants, limited age groups (no older people were included in the studies), and poor research quality, but they still found a significant trend toward benefit with probiotics: “The limited results showed that probiotic therapy may provide more benefit than placebo in terms of infections, the episode rate of acute [upper respiratory tract infections], and antibiotics used.”
(Cochrane Database of Syst Rev 2011, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD006895.)
Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.