Clinical potential for the use of probiotics in the management of respiratory conditions and cold- and influenza-like symptoms
Matthias Volkmar Kopp1, Tobias Ankermann2, Christoph Härtel1
1Klinik für Kinder und Jugendmedizin University Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany; 2Klinik für Allgemeine Pädiatrie, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Germany
Abstract: Respiratory conditions including complaints like cough, rhinitis, sinusitis, or influenza-like symptoms are commonly summarized as acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). The mechanisms of the potential beneficial effects of probiotics in the management of URTIs are not completely elucidated. Possible explanations are any or all of the following: 1) probiotics compete against other pathogens for colonization of the upper respiratory tract, 2) probiotics increase the barrier function, and 3) probiotics directly cause immunomodulatory effects. Here we review the current evidence for the use of probiotics in the clinical management of URTIs in different age groups. Animal studies and in vitro data reveal that probiotics might have clinical potential in the management of URTIs. In contrast, data from double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials show conflicting results. Given the current level of evidence, it is therefore not appropriate to recommend probiotics as a part of standard therapy or for the management of URTIs.
Keywords: probiotics, prevention, infection, respiratory tract, asthma, children
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