The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Natural Health Care
by Beth Burch N.D.

Chronic ear infections-

Chronic ear infections are a common reason for visits to the doctor in young children. The eustachian tube ( the passageway from the middle ear to the inside of the throat) is small and horizontally positioned in babies and young children which makes them more susceptible to getting an infection in the middle ear. Acute ear infections in children must be evaluated and treated by a health care provider as they can lead to more serious complications. However chronic ear infections respond well to natural methods in many cases, often avoiding ear tube surgery.

Many ear infections in children are the result of food or environmental allergies which cause the tissue in the eustachian tube to swell. If the passageway closes off, fluid collects in the middle ear providing a perfect medium for the growth of viruses or bacteria from the nose and throat. Once fluid has collected in the middle ear, it can take up to three months for it to clear completely. Fluid behind the ear drum does not indicate an ear infection, only a potential for one to develop. Antibiotics are frequently given to treat fluid behind the eardrum, but are best reserved to treat an acute infection with fever, pain, and inflammation of the eardrum.

Successful alternative treatment of chronic ear infections requires a multifaceted approach to balance immune function. First, all food allergens should be eliminated from the diet. The most common offender is dairy, but wheat, eggs, citrus and chocolate are also common. Some children may be allergic to other foods. Breastfeeding helps to prevent ear infections. Environmental allergens and irritants like dust, pollen and smoke can also cause inflammation which leads to ear fluid, so every effort should be made to eliminate these, especially from the childís bedroom. The use of pacifiers and bottles has been linked to increased incidence of ear infections. A good vitamin-mineral supplement should be taken every day- in a liquid form for infants and young children and a chewable for older kids. Be sure to read the product label for the appropriate dose for age. An essential fatty acid supplement should be given every day- flaxseed oil is a good choice.

If a child with fluid behind the eardrum develops symptoms of an acute ear infection (fever, persistent ear pain, nausea or vomiting), see your health care provider right away to check the ears for signs of infection.

Herb of choice-
Echinacea- an excellent choice for increasing immune function and helping to prevent viral and bacterial infections. Can be used daily for up to 6 weeks, then used for 5 out of every 7 days. If signs of a cold or flu develop, increase dose frequency to every 3-4 hours.
Dosage-Liquid extract or glycerin- 1 drop per 4 pounds of body weight once a day.
Chewable tablet (for children over 3)- 5-10 mg per 10 pounds body weight.

Other herbs-Astragalus, Elder flower

* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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