Xylitol and Ear, Nose and Throat InfectionsRecurring middle ear infections pose a great health threat to children. Tubes are often inserted into the ear drum in children with these recurring infections to reduce the fluid that is attempting to wash out the infection from the middle ear. While this procedure sometimes helps to reduce the frequency of infections, it is also designed to help with hearing.
Language, a critical part of learning, is built by auditory input during the first two years of life--the same period when ear infections are most common. If this input is dampened by infection or fluid in the middle ear during this important period, it can cause learning problems. One researcher demonstrated that even when properly treated, recurrent middle ear infections during the first two years result in significant impairment in reading ability up to the age of nine.7 Another study followed children longer and showed significant learning and social problems extending up to age eighteen.8
One of xylitol's versatile benefits is its ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause middle ear infections in young children. In two recent studies involving over 1,000 children, xylitol-flavoured chewing gum was found to reduce the incidence of middle ear infections by 40 per cent, significantly decreasing ongoing middle ear complications and the need for antibiotics.
Regularly washing the nose with a spray containing xylitol decreases the number of harmful bacteria and stimulates normal defensive washing of this area. A clean nose reduces problems with allergies and asthma that originate from nasal irritants and pollutants. Current research shows how bacteria attach to cells in the body, causing infection. Some sugars like xylitol are known to be able to interfere with this binding, blocking the attachment of the major infection-causing bacteria that live in the nose. Dr Lon Jones, a physician in Plainsview, Texas, reported that the use of a xylitol nasal spray in his practice prevented 93 per cent of ear infections and resulted in comparable reductions in sinus infections, allergies and asthma.9
Xylitol has been shown to be effective in inhibiting Candida albicans, a serious systemic yeast problem, and other harmful gut bacteria including H. pylori, implicated in periodontal disease, bad breath, gastric and duodenal ulcers and even stomach cancer.
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