The main side effects of probiotics are flatulence and bloating, according to MedicineNet. Side effects of probiotics are rare; thus, probiotics are generally safe for most healthy adults to use, states Mayo Clinic.
The safety of probiotics has not been studied thoroughly, particularly with regard to their effects on children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, warns MedicineNet. The possibility exists that probiotics may cause infections that require treatment with antibiotics, particularly in people who have underlying conditions. They may cause excessive immune system stimulation or have unwanted metabolic effects. People who have serious illnesses or immune system issues should not take probiotics before consulting with a doctor, states BerkleyWellness.com, and probiotics may not be appropriate for use by pregnant women, children or babies.
Although research continues with regard to the benefits and possible issues with probiotics, Mayo Clinic notes that they show promise in treating certain intestinal infections and diarrhea, especially when caused by antibiotic use. They may also help prevent and treat urinary tract infections and vaginal yeast infections; prevent colds and flu; and treat irritable bowel syndrome. Probiotics may also aid in weight loss; combat halitosis, gum disease and throat infections; lower blood pressure and cholesterol; and treat skin conditions, ulcers, depression and anxiety, adds BerkleyWellness.com.
Probiotics are a dietary supplement, according to Drugs.com. The most common probiotics belong in the lactobacillus group and are typically found fermented foods like yogurt, states WebMD. Certain strains of lactobacillus may help individuals who are unable to digest lactose and may also help with diarrhea. Probiotics may also come from the bifidobacterium group, and these may help the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.