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Probiotics, Chewing Gum Found Ineffective for Pharyngitis

Last Updated: December 18, 2017.

Neither probiotics nor xylitol-based chewing gum cuts the severity of symptoms associated with pharyngitis, according to a study published in the Dec. 18 issue of CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

MONDAY, Dec. 18, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Neither probiotics nor xylitol-based chewing gum cuts the severity of symptoms associated with pharyngitis, according to a study published in the Dec. 18 issue of CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Paul Little, M.D., from the Primary Care Group in Southampton, U.K., and colleagues randomized 1,009 patients with pharyngitis (aged 3 years and older) to no chewing gum, xylitol-based chewing gum (15 percent xylitol; five pieces daily), or sorbitol gum (five pieces daily). In addition, half of each group were also randomly assigned to receive probiotic capsules (containing 24 × 109 colony-forming units of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria) or placebo. Complete data on the primary outcome (mean self-reported severity of sore throat and difficulty swallowing [scale, 0 to 6] in the first three days) were available for 689 participants.

The researchers found that probiotics were not effective in reducing the severity of symptoms (mean severity scores, 2.75 with no probiotic versus 2.78 with probiotic; adjusted difference, −0.001; 95 percent confidence interval; −0.24 to 0.24). Similarly, neither type of chewing gum was effective (mean severity scores, 2.73 without gum, 2.72 with sorbitol gum [adjusted difference, 0.07; 95 percent confidence interval, −0.23 to 0.37] and 2.73 with xylitol gum [adjusted difference, 0.01; 95 percent confidence interval, −0.29 to 0.3]). No secondary outcomes differed significantly between groups, and there were no adverse effects reported.

"There is no reason for clinicians to advise patients to use either of these treatments for the symptomatic management of pharyngitis," conclude the authors.

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