Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from the common cold each year with an average of two to three episodes.
Recent studies have found what appears to be a connection between the amount of lactic acid bacteria (which are probiotic) and upper respiratory health. More specifically, the research has found that people with healthy upper respiratory tracts have more lactic acid bacteria, while people with poor upper respiratory health have less.
Conditions of the upper respiratory tract include things like the common cold, rhinitis, allergies, and more. The results from these recent studies suggest that the presence of probiotics in the upper respiratory tract could potentially reduce the severity of symptoms of respiratory tract infections and may even reduce the chances of getting an upper respiratory tract infection in the first place.
Every one has experienced the common cold at one point or another. Congestion, runny nose, cough, sore throat and even having a fever are all symptoms of the common cold that are miserable to go through. But with probiotics, you can potentially mitigate your risk of catching the common cold, or at the very least get some relief from the symptoms.
The Microbiome Isn't Just in The Gut
If you've known about probiotics for a while, you have probably heard of the gut microbiome, or the collection of microorganisms found throughout the digestive system. But many don't know that there is also a microbiome in the upper respiratory tract as well, known as the airway microbiome. It consists of all the microbiota found in the mouth, nasal cavity, throat, and voice box.
As this recent study suggests, the airway microbiome works much in the same way that the microbiome in the digestive system does. In both microbiomes, a healthy balance of microorganisms will help fight off invading pathogens and a balanced microbiome is associated with better overall health and an imbalanced microbiome (also known as dysbiosis) is associated with poor health and disease.
How Probiotics Protect Against the Common Cold and Other Upper Respiratory Pathogens
Over the past few decades, mounting evidence has indicated that probiotics protect against the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections by strengthening the immune system. Probiotics activate toll-like receptors in immune cells, making them go into a defensive mode to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses that cause infection.
When probiotics strengthen the immune system, they give you more protection from getting sick from the common cold and other illnesses. It's as simple as that.
Probiotics May Lessen the Severity of Cold Symptoms
As mentioned previously, studies indicate that probiotics help to strengthen your body's immune system so that you're less likely to be infected with the common cold. But what about if you already have a cold — could probiotics help ease the side effects?
A 2012 study done in college students on this topic is illuminating. College students are particularly susceptible to getting sick with colds and other illnesses because they tend to live in close quarters, are sleep-deprived, and are often under a lot of stress.
This study had some very promising findings:
- The students who took the probiotics had colds that lasted two days less than those who didn't receive the probiotics (four days vs. six days — a 33% decrease!)
- Student who took probiotics had symptoms that were 34% less severe
- Students who took probiotics had a higher quality of life while they had colds, resulting in a lot less missed school days
Adding to that, a 2014 meta-analysis that took into account various studies suggests that probiotics had a positive effect in preventing common cold symptoms. Not only that, but probiotics also appeared to confirm a reduction in the duration of being sick!
The Bottom Line
When we get sick with the cold these days, it's not uncommon to reach for the Airborne, Emergen-C, and other supplements to get you through the day.
Well now you can be pretty confident in taking probiotics when you get sick with the cold. They'll likely ease your symptoms and reduce the time you spend being sick. It's also a good idea to take probiotics regularly so you don't get sick in the first place!
Learn more about our award-winning probiotic supplement, BlueBiotics Ultimate Care, here.