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December 16, 2011

Xylitol Nasal Flushes Helps Prevent Chronic Sinusitis

Image by Aikhan from German Wikipedia
Over the years, there has been much about how beneficial a safe food additive called xylitol is in preventing infections. This naturally-occurring plant-based sugar substitute apparently has all sorts of anti-bacterial as well as anti-fungal properties. Given these properties, daily xylitol gum chewing or xylitol nasal spray use has been shown to help prevent recurrent acute ear infections and sinus infections... safe for use even in infants.

How may this occur? Toronto researchers figured out that xylitol inhibits the adherence of germs (burkholderia in the study) to airway linings thereby helping to prevent recurrent infections.

Another beneficial practice found to be helpful in preventing sinus infections are saline flushes to the nose. For those who don't realize the difference, saline flushes are different from saline nasal sprays in the volume of irrigation performed (think garden hose versus squirt bottle). Nasopure nasal flushes is being shown in the picture above (there are many different styles but all basically do the same thing).


Now what if we combine saline flushes with xylitol for those who suffer from particularly difficult chronic sinus infections???

Stanford University researchers conducted a small study (20 subjects) to see whether xylitol flushes (rather than nasal spray) to nose works even better than plain saline flushes to the nose. In spite of its small size, it was a prospective, randomized, double-blinded, controlled crossover pilot study.

What they found, at least in the short term, is that xylitol nasal irrigations resulted in greater improvement of chronic rhinosinusitis symptoms as compared to saline irrigations.



Reference:
Xylitol nasal irrigation in the management of chronic rhinosinusitis: A pilot study. The Laryngoscope Volume 121, Issue 11, pages 2468–2472, November 2011

A novel model to study bacterial adherence to the transplanted airway: inhibition of Burkholderia cepacia adherence to human airway by dextran and xylitol. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2004 Dec;23(12):1382-91.



A novel use of xylitol sugar in preventing acute otitis media. Pediatrics. 1998 Oct;102(4 Pt 1):879-84.






Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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