A meta-analysis of 12 randomized, controlled trials, with a total of 3720 participants, examined the effectiveness and safety of probiotics in preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) in children, adults, and older people.
Probiotics, compared to placebo, were associated with fewer URTIs overall, shorter duration of URTI episodes, fewer antibiotic prescriptions, and fewer URTI-related school absences.
Probiotics appeared safe for use in these populations, as adverse events were similar between probiotic and placebo groups, and any reported probiotic side effects were minor (e.g. gastrointestinal symptoms).
Higher quality evidence would lend support to these findings in the future.
Paul Enck Prof. Dr. Paul Enck, Director of Research, Dept. of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany.
His main interests are gut functions in health and disease, including functional and inflammatory bowel disorders, the role of the gut microbiota, regulation of eating and food intake and its disorders, of nausea, vomiting and motion sickness, and the psychophysiology and neurobiology of the placebo response, with specific emphasis on age and gender contributions.
He has published more than 170 original data paper in scientific, peer-reviewed journals, and more than 250 book chapters and review articles. He is board member/treasurer of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility and of the German Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, and has served as reviewer for many international journals and grant agencies.