by the Health Experts at Healthy Living Magazine
Ear infections are the most common
illness among infants and
young children, according to
the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Three of every four kids have an
ear infection before age four. Usually
infection occurs in the middle ear and
is called otitis media. But while in the
past the usual treatment has involved
antibiotics and intubation if the condition
becomes severe, the January 3,
2010, issue of Medline Plus reports
that there is “New Thinking on What to
Do” when it comes to ear infections.
The article includes a great discussion
on the overuse of antibiotics
for kids and resulting antibiotic resistance.
Doctors say watchful waiting is just as helpful
as giving kids antibiotics.
Furthermore, a July 2009 report in the British
Medical Journal found that ear infections come back
more often in kids who’ve been treated with antibiotics.
In the three years after being treated for an ear
infection, 63 percent of the kids who were given the
antibiotic amoxicillin had recurrent ear infections,
compared with 43 percent of those not treated with
an antibiotic, according to the article.
“Parents are becoming used to the idea that
antibiotics are not the first choice,” said Dr. David
Tunkel, director of pediatric otolaryngology at Johns
Hopkins School of Medicine and chairman of the
pediatrics committee for the American Academy of
But then what should be the first
How about prevention?
Most experts agree that the following all are helpful
- Don’t smoke.
Smoking is an important risk factor
for ear infections.
- Breast-feeding your baby can help, as there
is evidence that this helps to reduce middle ear
- Wash your hands. This helps to prevent infections’
- Take your child to a day care center with fewer
kids. Crowding children can spread infection.
- Try the Sweet Cure. A natural compound
called xylitol can actually prevent future middle
Finnish researchers have discovered that xylitol,
nature’s bacteria fighter, can help to prevent recurrent ear infections in young children. Xylitol,
unlike the usual sugars bacteria feed on, has only
five and not six carbon rings, making it unpalatable
to the types of pathogenic bacteria that cause
middle ear infections, as well as sinusitis, allergies,
Indeed, if you haven’t been keeping up on the
latest in dental health, xylitol is now widely known to
prevent dental caries and to rebuild tooth enamel,
based on extensive clinical trials. Xylitol starves the
bacterium in the mouth that causes the acidity that
leads to cavities.
Dr. Matthi Uhari who was instrumental in demonstrating
the very powerful ways that xylitol reduces
dental caries in children and adults also found
it reduces middle ear infections. Dr. Uhari reported
in 1998 in Pediatrics on a study involving some
857 healthy children recruited from day care centers
who were randomized to one of five treatment
groups to receive control syrup, xylitol sugar syrup,
control chewing gum, xylitol gum, or xylitol lozenge.
The daily dose of xylitol varied from 8.4 g (chewing
gum) to 10 g (syrup).
The occurrence of middle ear infections “was
significantly lower in those who received xylitol sugar
syrup or gum, and these children required antimicrobials
less often than did controls. Xylitol was well
tolerated.” The xylitol also was effective in “decreasing
the need for antimicrobials.”
HOW TO USE
Be sure you use products that deliver therapeutic
amounts of xylitol. Xylitol should be listed as the
first or second ingredient and there should be no
artificial additives. Xlear makes the best gum, mints
and nasal xylitol formulas. The rule of thumb is to
wash your nose each time you wash your hands—
five times daily—to reduce ear infections. It is very
important to ensure that children chew their gum,
eat their mints and/or cleanse their nasal passages
with the xylitol spray five times a day. Researchers
have found that xylitol is most effective at this level
of usage. A 2007 study found less effective results
at a lower use frequency.
Getting your child (or yourself) to use xylitol five
times per day is really not that hard. With the naturally
sweet taste that xylitol provides, plus the availability
of economical, large jars of both the chewing
gum and mints, this may be one action that is good
for your child and that your child will love to do.
You can even involve your day-care provider—they
should know about great benefits of xylitol, too.
Spry chewing gum, mints
and Xlear® Nasal Spray are
available at health food stores
and natural pharmacies.
Visit www.xlear.com to
find a store near you.
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