Probiotics Used to Treat Norovirus

To help fight the contagious norovirus, doctors are suggesting patients take probiotic supplements.

Probiotics Used to Treat Norovirus

Dr. Travis Honeycutt, who is a WakeMed pediatrician, said he has seen cases of norovirus where children need intravenous fluids. Dr. Honeycutt said, most adults & children need only supportive care at home. They are usually told to take Tylenol and get as many fluids as they can.

Doctors are now suggesting people suffering from the gastrointestinal virus take probiotics, a healthy bacteria that normally live in the intestine & can be found as dietary supplements.

Honeycutt says,“You are kind of replacing the normal bacteria, putting more normal bacteria in the intestine to help compete with the virus, sometimes even attack the virus directly.” He adds that Florastor Kids & Culturelle have the most research data in children, not specifically in fighting the norovirus, but in use against intestinal viruses in general. “Giving them probiotics seems to shorten the duration of the diarrhea by about one to one and a half days,” Honeycutt said.

There are no real risks to using probiotics. The supplements simply provide more of the bacteria. Taking one capsule of the most common or popular probiotics would equal about 15 yogurts. The challenge is that supplements are not as tightly regulated as prescription medications. So, it is not guaranteed that the amount listed on the box label is what's actually in the product.

Patients are never certain as to what type of intestinal virus they have. A particular strain of probiotic may not be as effective against different types of intestinal viruses.

Symptoms of the norovirus include diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea & vomiting. They usually last 1-2 days, but people are contagious for at least 3 days after they recover.

Doctors say, the best prevention against the virus is frequent hand washing, adding that alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not work against the virus.

25 April 2012