A thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden suggests a bacterial nasal spray can afford relief for children having long-term problems with fluid in the middle ear.
The study covered 60 children with glue ear, or secretory otitis media (SOM), who were split into three groups.
The first group received a solution containing Streptococcus bacteria, the second a solution with Lactobacillus bacteria, and the third a bacteria-free solution (placebo). These solutions were then sprayed into the children's noses for ten days.
"In the group given the Streptococcus spray, a third of the children got much better or were cured completely, while only one child given the bacteria-free spray recovered," says Susann Skovbjerg, a doctoral student at the Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Bacteriology. "Treatment with Lactobacillus bacteria was less effective."
A number of different types of bacteria come under the Streptococcus umbrella. The type used in the study is normally found in the mouth and belongs to the viridans group. The researchers have various theories as to why a spray with these bacteria can help children with glue ear.
"One explanation for the marked improvement may be that the spray stimulates the immune system to conquer the long-term inflammation," says Skovbjerg.