ENT Center of Austin - Doctor's Blog

Clean Ships and Sinusitis

This is interesting. We just came across it. Here's the easiest way to remember it. What do unclean ocean freighters and sinusitis have in common?

Eggheads have discovered that the same stuff used to clean the poop-deck of a nasty ship can also be used as a way to better deliver medication that is used to relieve sinusitis.


No trick here. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology:

"Experts estimate that 37-million people are afflicted with sinusitis each year, making it one of the most common health conditions in America. That number may be significantly higher, since the symptoms of bacterial sinusitis often mimic those of colds or allergies, and many sufferers never see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment."


"Acute bacterial sinusitis is an infection of the sinus cavities caused by bacteria. It usually is preceded by a cold, allergy attack, or irritation by environmental pollutants. Unlike a cold, or allergy, bacterial sinusitis requires a physician’s diagnosis and treatment with an antibiotic to cure the infection and prevent future complications."

Well ... OK. What About Boat Cleaning and Sinusitis?

There's an underlying root cause of most cases that sinus sufferers experience. It's called Bacillus licheniformis . You not only hit upon it on seagoing vessels. These microorganisms likewise are found on bird feathers and on the surface of seaweed.

We now hear that researchers at Newcastle University in England discovered that there's an enzyme that's in the solution used to scrub-down the hulls of ships may be useful in treating sinusitis. Additionally, they did some tests and found that the marine microbe can bring relief in a nasal spray.


Those who are plagued with chronic sinusitis experience a build up of this junk called biofilm. It creates a barricade which makes treatments -- using antibiotics, for instance -- occasionally worthless. This new finding states that the cleaning material, affectionately named NucB can destroy or break into the biofilm, stripping away the thin walls of around 60% of the gunk.

That makes it easier to the antibiotics to sink-in.

Hold On

Don't expect to see this sinus cleaner on the shelves soon. More testing needs to take place. But one of the scientists working on this potential breakthrough says NucB “breaks down the extracellular DNA, which is acting like a glue to hold the cells to the surface of the sinuses.” Worked effectively in 14 of the 24 strains that were examined and tested.

Like a distant ship on the horizon, the possibility of seeing that liner coming into port is a couple of years away. Sort of like, as they used to say, "a slow boat to China." We'll keep you posted on our blog about the progress. The good news is that the ship is coming in. Stay tuned.

Image Source: flickr.com/photos/nettsu/4930723793/; public.navy.mil/airfor/cvn77/PublishingImages/Photo_gallery/1004/100427-n-7908t-059.jpg
Original Source: http://austinentmd.com/about/blog/73-clean-ships-and-sinusitis

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