Health Team

Probiotics used to treat norovirus

Posted February 16, 2012

— To help combat the contagious norovirus, some doctors are suggesting patients take probiotic dietary supplements.

WakeMed pediatrician Dr. Travis Honeycutt said he has seen cases of norovirus where children need intravenous fluids.

Honeycutt said most children and adults need only supportive care at home. He said 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 and can be found as dietary supplements.

“You're sort of replacing the normal bacteria, putting more normal bacteria in the intestine to help compete with the virus and sometimes even attack the virus directly,” Honeycutt said.

He said Culturelle and Florastor Kids 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 a day to a day and a half,” Honeycutt said.

There are no real risks to using probiotics. The supplements simply provide more of the bacteria.

Honeycutt said taking one capsule of the most common or popular probiotics would equal about 15 yogurts. The challenge is that supplements aren't 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.

probiotics Probiotics used to treat norovirus

Patients are also never certain exactly 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 nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. They usually last one or two days, but people are contagious for at least three days after they recover.

The best prevention against the virus is frequent hand washing, doctors say, adding that alcohol-based hand sanitizers don't work against the virus.


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  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Feb 23, 2012

    Original, I wish I could get my hands on some raw milk without paying a fortune. The only sources I have found locally are around $8 - $10/gallon with all the coop fees... I wish NC would legalize it, it's just over the top for a government to regulate what people choose to nourish their bodies with.

  • original intent Feb 23, 2012

    raw milk has plenty of probiotics..

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Feb 22, 2012

    NC Reader, maybe a little ginger ale or ginger tea would help settle the stomach enough to get these down. It's good information to have but I agree, it might be tough to do...

    The other thing that struck me about this article is that the alcohol based hand sanitizers don't kill the virus! I thought alcohol killed everything so that is an eye opener.

  • hollylama Feb 17, 2012

    Don't forget the enzymes!

  • stinaroche Feb 17, 2012

    "Overall in twenty-two studies, probiotic prophylaxis significantly reduced the odds ratio of developing AAD by approximately 60 percent. This analysis clearly demonstrates that probiotics offer protective benefit in the prevention of these diseases," said principal investigator Rabin Rahmani, MD.
    Cited on Science Daily: Probiotics Effective in Combating Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea, Studies Find; 'Good Bugs' Look Promising as Anti-Inflammatory Agents
    ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2011)

  • NC Reader Feb 16, 2012

    Most people with norovirus can't keep anything down. How would they get the probiotics in them?