Possible side effects of probiotics (and why they usually happen)

Possible side effects of probiotics (and why they usually happen)

Scientists have long identified the existence of beneficial and harmful bacteria for the body. The first category is probiotics. They are usually prescribed to correct the imbalance of the intestinal microflora caused by antibiotics. In addition, probiotics are used to strengthen the immune system, to fight toxins, optimize water-salt metabolism in the digestive tract, to improve the production of enzymes, hormones and other beneficial substances. Microorganisms designed to improve health are available in the form of supplements.

But despite the many positive characteristics, the use of these bacteria can cause unwanted reactions. Do probiotics have side effects? They are especially pronounced in people with chronic diseases. But sometimes a completely healthy person may experience discomfort from taking them. Therefore, before starting treatment or using beneficial microorganisms for prophylactic purposes, it is necessary to consult a doctor, as well as familiarize yourself with the existing side effects that they can provoke.

Indigestion is the most common side effect

Usually people take probiotics for bloating, but it's not uncommon for them to have the opposite effect. The negative reaction of the body is explained by the fact that probiotic organisms, entering the intestines, contribute to active gas formation.

Patients who feel such discomfort often complain of other troubles: the appearance of constipation, often feeling thirsty. Why a probiotic for bloating works the other way around in some cases is hard to understand. Many doctors do not find a correct explanation for this. Most likely, this is due to the individual reaction of the organism of each person.

Such a negative experience makes people refuse to take probiotic preparations. But there is an opinion that it is not necessary to do this. If you endure the discomfort and wait a few weeks, the unpleasant symptoms will completely disappear. When probiotics are constantly puffy, despite their long-term use, you need to consult a doctor for advice.

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Flatulence can also cause lactose intolerance. People who do not produce enough lactase, an enzyme that breaks down milk sugar, often complain of bloating from probiotics. This is due to their lactose content. Once in an unsplit form in the large intestine, it begins to ferment. This causes discomfort: bloating and pain.


It's hard to believe, but taking probiotics for bloating, some patients begin to complain of headaches. They have no idea that the cause of the problem is treatment with beneficial microorganisms. Why is this happening? Headaches are caused by biogenic amines found in all probiotic foods. They are products of protein breakdown resulting from bacterial fermentation.

Biogenic amines irritate the central nervous system, provoke an increase or decrease in blood flow in the brain. All this causes headaches.

The fact that biogenic amines cause headaches has been proven by studies on volunteers. This negative effect was observed in more than 70% of participants. But there have also been studies that have not shown a direct link. Based on this, it was concluded that not everyone has a headache when taking probiotics.

Increase in histamine levels

Histamine molecules are produced by the cells of the immune system when there is any threat to the body. There are strains of bacteria found in probiotic foods that produce histamine in the gut. Accordingly, the probiotics taken during bloating can also cause such an effect. An increase in histamine causes the blood vessels to dilate, making them more permeable. As a result, cells of the immune system easily attack places where foreign agents have accumulated in large numbers.

Normally, the histamine produced breaks down the enzyme diamine oxidase. This method of its suppression prevents the development of allergic and inflammatory reactions. But in some people, histamine is broken down incompletely or incorrectly. As a result, taking probiotics can cause them a negative reaction of the body.

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The risk of developing infectious diseases

What other side effects of probiotics are there that many people are unaware of? For example, the occurrence of infectious diseases as a result of their intake. It is important to note that such a negative reaction occurs very rarely. It is caused by the action of microorganisms from probiotics, which are able to penetrate into the bloodstream, provoking an infectious disease.

Such complications when taking probiotics can occur in people who have the following problems:

  • a suppressed immune system;
  • installed venous catheters;
  • recent surgery and prolonged hospitalization.

But even in these people, the risk of developing infectious diseases as a result of taking probiotics is very small. There are statistics according to which an infection that has arisen under the influence of treatment with beneficial microorganisms is found in 1 person out of 6 million.

Doctors warn that patients diagnosed with pancreatitis, serious immune disorders, should not take probiotics for prevention or as part of complex treatment.

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