Medicine by the Numbers

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Probiotics for the Prevention of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

 


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Am Fam Physician. 2015 Oct 1;92(7):573.

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PROBIOTICS FOR THE PREVENTION OF UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS

Number needed to treat = 8 to prevent infection
BenefitsHarms

1 in 8 upper respiratory tract infections prevented over at least 3 months

None were harmed

PROBIOTICS FOR THE PREVENTION OF UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS

Number needed to treat = 8 to prevent infection
BenefitsHarms

1 in 8 upper respiratory tract infections prevented over at least 3 months

None were harmed

Details for This Review

Study Population: Healthy children and adults from six countries at average risk of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI)

Efficacy End Points: Incidence of URTI, duration of illness, work or school days lost

Harm End Points: Medication adverse effects

Narrative: Most treatments of URTI aim to control symptoms, because URTIs tend to self-remit in a few days to a week. It has been suggested that certain probiotic agents have the potential to prevent and mitigate URTI through immune-modulating properties. This Cochrane review examined 12 randomized trials (n = 3,720) of probiotics vs. placebo to prevent URTI.1 Included trials variably enrolled healthy children, adults, and older adults, while excluding trials examining persons at low risk (competitive athletes) and high risk (children prone to otitis).

The studies demonstrated a reduction in episodes (number needed

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.


This series is coordinated by Dean A. Seehusen, MD, MPH, AFP Contributing Editor, and Daniel Runde, MD, from the NNT Group.

A collection of Medicine by the Numbers published in AFP is available at http://www.aafp.org/afp/mbtn.

REFERENCE

1. Hao Q, Dong BR, Wu T. Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(2):CD006895.



 

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