Probiotics and Barrett Esophagus
Probiotics are the supplements that contain useful or good bacteria. The gastrointestinal tract of human body is full of natural bacteria, especially the large intestine and the last part of small intestine. These bacteria are not harmful for human body, instead they are useful. They perform some good function including, production of vitamin K and suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria that can produce disease. There are 400 types of good bacteria in the human gastrointestinal tract. The most important of these 400 types is lactobacillus acidophilus or lactic acid bacillus (LAB). These good bacteria suppress the growth of harmful bacteria. They do so by competing for space and food. The good bacteria occupy space and consume food, and don’t allow harmful bacteria to take their place. The harmful bacteria don’t get enough space and food for their growth and hence their growth is suppressed. Probiotics are used in number of disorders. They are used to treat indigestion, antibiotics associated diarrhea, inflammatory conditions, Necrotizing enterocolitis and irritable bowel syndrome and colitis.
On the other hand the cause of Barrett’s esophagus is not bacteria or an infectious agent. Its cause is different. The acid reflux from the stomach is responsible for the conversion of normal esophagus to Barrett esophagus. Acid reflux can occur due to distension or increase pressure in stomach or due to insufficiency or damaged lower esophageal sphincter. Any of these two problems can cause reflux esophagitis and reflux esophagitis may progress to Barrett esophagitis if reflux is not controlled.
Indigestion is a cause of reflux of stomach contents back to the esophagus. Probiotics are proved very useful in treating the symptoms of indigestion. Various gas producing bacteria are responsible for indigestion, abdominal distension and increased pressure in stomach that lead to esophageal reflux. Probiotics are useful in this condition. They suppress the growth of these harmful bacteria and reduce the symptoms of heart burn, indigestion and gas production. Thus in this way use of probiotics can be useful in treating reflux esophagitis and can be added along with the other medications.
Probiotics have no or little side effects because bacteria present in probiotics syrups or tablets are the part of normal flora of human gut. But scientific studies suggested that using a mixture of more than six types of bacteria at a time can be harmful. Moreover, using probiotics in children, elderly and in immune-compromised person should be discouraged.