What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are commercially available live bacteria thought to have health benefits when ingested. Our literature review of probiotic studies in the intensive care unit (ICU) found that in patients who receive probiotics, there is a 25% reduction in lung infection, known as ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). There is also an 18% reduction in the chance of developing any infection in the ICU. Although probiotics also seem to reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile bowel infections in other settings, this has not been evaluated in the ICU setting. Furthermore, studies in critically ill patients have not been well done. Therefore, whether probiotics are really helpful or not is unclear.