Gastroenteritis and other types of infectious diarrhea – When your microbiota is struggling
Balance in the microbiota – the collections of microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses) that live in the human body – is essential for good health. The Biocodex Microbiota Institute, an expert in research and distribution of advances in the field, regularly releases themed dossiers on its website www.biocodexmicrobiotainstitute.com.
The thematic paper Gastroenteritis and other types of infectious diarrhea – When your microbiota is struggling, published at the end of November, describes the latest advances on the relationship between gut microbiota and diarrhea, which is the main symptom of gastrointestinal infections and the second leading cause of death worldwide in children under five. Would it be possible to combat diarrhea by acting on the microbiota? Who is responsible for damaging our flora? The aim of this thematic paper is to provide some insights into these issues.
ANTIBIOTICS ONLY TARGET PATHOGENS
FALSE. Balance in the microbiota – the collections of microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses) that live in the human body – is essential for good health. The Biocodex Microbiota Institute, an expert in research and distribution of advances in the field, regularly releases themed dossiers on its website
AN ALTERED MICROBIOTA CAN HAVE A PROTECTIVE EFFECT
TRUE. While harmful effects of microbiota imbalance (dysbiosis) have been largely demonstrated, a protective effect has also been proved recently. Experiments in mice have shown that antibiotic-induced gut dysbiosis prevents norovirus gastroenteritis or at least alleviates symptoms. However, a large individual variability is observed as each reaction depends on the genetic pool, the gut microbiota and the presence of concomitant infections.
ZINC INTAKE RESTORES THE GUT BARRIER IN CASE OF DIARRHEA
TRUE, IN SOME CASES. Administering zinc dietary supplements to children with severe diarrhea restores the gut barrier, stimulates the immune system, and reduces the duration of episodes. This therapeutic avenue is only applicable to children with zinc deficiency. In the others, it is pointless and could even worsen the situation by increasing the risk of vomiting.
PROBIOTICS EFFECTS DEPEND ON THE TYPE OF INFECTION
TRUE. Benefits seem to be specific to each strain. However, when probiotics are used in case of infection, they can alleviate symptoms, and the earlier they are administered, the more efficient they are. For instance, Saccharomyces boulardii and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG are microorganisms that seem to reduce the duration of gastroenteritis symptoms.
GASTROENTERITIS CAN PROGRESS TO MENINGITIS IN CHILDREN
TRUE. While gastroenteritis is mostly caused by norovirus, rotavirus infection is most often involved in children under five years old. Complications are rare but possible: if the rotavirus gets into the blood stream, it can cause extra-intestinal infections, mainly neurological (meningitis, encephalitis, encephalopathy).
Dr. Julie Lemale is a Pediatric Gastroenterologist at the Armand Trousseau Hospital (AP-HP, Paris) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Francophone Group of Pediatric Hepatology, Gastroenterology and Nutrition (GFHGNP). She provides her expert insight on how the gut microbiota should be considered and preserved in the treatment of childhood diarrhea. Her testimony raises the possible long-term consequences of antibiotic treatment early in life and sheds lights on the benefits of oral vaccination.