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Nasal Saline Rinses Reduce Ear Infections in Kids
Date:4/30/2010

Small study reports fewer acute infections after daily nasal washes

FRIDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Rinsing the nasal cavity with a saline solution has become a popular way to try to reduce allergy symptoms and sinus infections in adults, and now a new study suggests that this simple treatment might also help prevent ear infections in young children.

In the small Canadian study, 10 children who received an average of four nasal irrigations four days a week had no ear infections during the three-month study period, while only three of those who weren't given nasal washes had no ear infections.

"Saline irrigations are simple, low-cost and have few, if any, side effects," the study authors wrote. "Our results suggest that nasal irrigations could effectively prevent recurrent otitis media."

Otitis media is the medical term for ear infections. Such infections are the leading cause of hearing loss in children, according to the study. Standard treatment for bacterial ear infections is antibiotics. However, there's growing concern that repeatedly using antibiotics to treat ear infections might lead to antibiotic resistance.

In an effort to find an alternative to antibiotics, researchers from Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal reviewed the data on saline nasal rinses in adults and discovered that irrigating the nasal cavity can reduce nasal swelling and discharge after surgery and that nasal irrigation is often being used to reduce sinus symptoms in adults.

"The idea behind a saline rinse for ear infections is that you have a lot of germs in the back of your nose and throat where the Eustachian tube connects. If you can wash out those germs on a regular basis, you could potentially reduce the number of ear infections," explained Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, chair of otolaryngology at Long Island College Hospital in New York City and the editor of the journal Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.
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