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Research Looks At Chewing Gum Flavoring For Infection Prevention

Gumballs by Patrick Hoesly via Flickr and a Creative Commons license

A common flavoring of chewing gum was associated with a 25% reduction in acute otitis media (AOM) in a small meta-analysis of children in Finnish day care centers, researchers reported.

Chewing gum has long been touted by gum manufacturers for preventing tooth decay and by frequent flyers for keeping one’s ears from popping during take-offs and landings. It’s been looked at for heartburn from overeating, relief of stress and anxiety and in dieting (although sugar-free gum has no more effect, it’s been recently noted).

Now, one of gum’s common flavorings, xylitol (birch sugar) is being looked at for its antibitoic properties in an age of antibiotic overuse and potential drug resistence. Xylitol has been used for decades as a natural non-sugar sweetener in gum, toothpaste and medicines.

AOM is the most common bacterial infection among young children in the United States. By the age of one, approximately Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

One Of The Most Common Infections Of Childhood: Otitis Media

A doctor examining the inside of a young girl's ear while her mother looks on.Ear infections are the bane of childhood and can spoil many outdoor adventures. One of the most common infections of childhood, they provoke long nights of miserable children, sleepless parents, and unhappiness all around. They may be recurrent, and can also progress (rarely) to more serious medical problems, such as meningitis.

What Are Ear Infections?

Acute otitis (inflammation of the ear) media (“middle”) infection is caused by bacteria or viruses. When it occurs, there is redness and inflammation of the eardrum, frequently with a collection of  blood, serum, or pus behind the drum. To know whether or not this has occurred, and to precisely determine the anatomic diagnosis and severity, one needs to see the eardrum, which is what the healthcare provider does with an otoscope.

With otitis media (middle ear infection), there is no drainage from the external ear canal (unless the eardrum ruptures, which is unusual in an adult and more common in a child) and the victim has a fever, sometimes with an accompanying sore throat. In many cases, the victim has a history of prior similar ear infections. Most often, otitis media occurs in children; when it occurs in an adult, it may be associated with a sinus infection or functional obstruction of the eustachian tube (the pressure-release mechanism from the middle ear into the throat).

It is interesting to note that children who chew Read more »

This post, One Of The Most Common Infections Of Childhood: Otitis Media, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Kids, Upper Respiratory Viruses, And Ear Infections

According to a new study published this month, more than 20 percent of young children with colds or other upper respiratory viruses will develop middle ear infections.

This finding isn’t that surprising. Eear symptoms along with a viral upper respiratory infection (URI) are common, including ear fullness and difficulty popping the ear. Although adults tend to be able to keep their ears clear by swallowing, chewing gum, yawning, or ear popping, most kids don’t know what to do when their ears feel full.

Whether in adults or kids, when the ears don’t ventilate or clear properly it can lead to ear problems including fluid buildup and middel ear infection. Why does this occur?

With a viral URI the lining of the nose swells, leading to symptoms of runny nose, nasal congestion, and sometimes nasal obstruction. This swelling doesn’t just occur in the nose, but also in the eustachian tube, which connects the back of the nose to the middle ear. When the ear “pops,” the eustachian tube opens to allow pressure and fluid to drain from the ear into the back of the nose. This is why yawning, swallowing, or noseblowing can cause an ear to pop normally.

When the lining in the eustachian tube swells up, the tube becomes blocked and prevents the ear from popping, leading to symptoms of ear pressure and fullness, fluid buildup, clogging, and often ear infections.

Read more about eustachian tube dysfunction here.

REFERENCE:

Clinical Spectrum of Acute Otitis Media Complicating Upper Respiratory Tract Viral Infection.” Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. February 2011, volume 30, issue 2, pp 95-99.

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Ear Infections: To Treat Or Not To Treat?

Ear infections used to be a devastating problem. In 1932, acute otitis media (AOM) and its suppurative complications accounted for 27 percent of all pediatric admissions to Bellevue Hospital. Since the introduction of antibiotics, it has become a much less serious problem. For decades it was taken for granted that all children with AOM should be given antibiotics, not only to treat the disease itself but to prevent complications like mastoiditis and meningitis.

In the 1980s, that consensus began to change. We realized that as many as 80 percent of uncomplicated ear infections resolve without treatment in three days. Many infections are caused by viruses that don’t respond to antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics leads to the emergence of resistant strains of bacteria. Antibiotics cause side effects. A new strategy of watchful waiting was developed.

Current Medical Guidelines

In 2004, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) collaborated to issue evidence-based guidelines based on a review of the published evidence. Something was lost in the transmission: The guidelines have been over-simplified and misrepresented, so it’s useful to look at what they actually said. There were six parts:

1. Criteria were specified for accurate diagnosis.

  • History of acute onset of signs and symptoms
  • Presence of middle ear effusion (ear drum bulging, lack of mobility, air-fluid level)
  • Signs and symptoms of middle ear inflammation: Either red ear drum or ear pain interfering with normal activity or sleep

They stressed that AOM must be distinguished from otitis media with effusion (OME). OME is more common, occurs with the common cold, can be a precursor or a consequence of AOM, and is not an indication for antibiotic treatment. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

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