No Antibiotics or Tubes Needed: Natural Strategies to Cure Ear Infections
Aug 01, 2015 03:33AM
● By Risa M. Sloves
Why does my child keep getting ear infections?” is perhaps one of the most common questions a pediatric health care provider hears at the beginning of cold and flu season. Middle ear infections – known as otitis media (OM) – are the number-one reason parents bring their children to the doctor and, over the last decade, the number of children with earaches has risen sharply.
Approximately $8 billion is spent annually on conventional medical treatments for OM including antibiotics, antihistamines and surgical insertion of ear tubes. However, several studies have shown that for most children, drugs and surgery are not only ineffective, but these costly measures may actually predispose children to recurrences of OM. A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that children who took Amoxicillin for chronic ear infections were two to six times more likely to have a recurrence of their ear infection than those who received a sugar pill. Ongoing studies at the University of Pittsburgh suggest that only about one out of seven children with OM should receive a prescription for an antibiotic.
An earache develops when the tissue lining the middle ear or eustachian tube swells; it causes the opening of the eustachian tube to become obstructed, thus preventing the middle ear from draining properly. As inflammation continues, the production of fluid increases and exerts pressure on the pain-sensitive structures of the middle ear. The obstruction that occurs may be due to physical or mechanical means. Swollen tonsils or adenoids – which may be caused or aggravated by allergies – are one of the most commonly encountered mechanical types of blockages. Biomechanical obstruction such as abnormal structure or function of the skull, the jaw, and especially the bones of the neck, can contribute to and often cause the development of ear infections.
These biomechanical problems often develop due to positioning problems in-utero, due to birth trauma, or following a prolonged or difficult labor and delivery; this may, in turn, result in swelling, muscle spasm, decreased circulation and/or motion, and even misalignment of the spinal bones in the neck relative to one another (called a subluxation). These effects can go undetected for months or years unless your child has a chiropractic check-up.
In fact, Gottfried Gutmann, MD, one of Europe’s most prominent researchers in the field of physical medicine, has found that one of the most common consequences of upper neck subluxations is an increased susceptibility to ear, nose and throat infections. These findings are so significant to the overall health of infants and children that Guttman recommends that examination of the upper part of the neck be mandatory after every difficult birth. In regard to recurrent infections, he states that “the success of adjustment overshadows every other type of treatment, especially the pharmaceutical approach.”
After sleepless nights and the pain of recurring ear infections, you may still be trying to get your child off the antibiotic merry-go-round. The following are helpful hints for dealing with ear infections:
• Have your child checked for spinal subluxations by a board certified pediatric chiropractor. If subluxations are present, a gentle adjustment – often with only a fingertip – can be performed to correct this condition.
• Children suffering from chronic ear infections often have allergies such as dairy, wheat, eggs, chocolate, citrus, corn, soy, peanuts/nuts, shellfish, sugar and yeast. New, non-invasive diagnostic and treatment methods such as the BioSET Allergy Elimination Technique are effective in permanently eliminating allergies without medication or injections.
• Breastfeed if at all possible.
• Avoid exposing your child to smoke.
• Warmed mullein-garlic oil drops in the ear can help ease pain and inflammation. All remedies should be discussed with an alternative health care practitioner prior to use.
• Lymphatic drainage massage for the neck and acupressure may help decrease pain and increase fluid drainage from the middle ear and should be reviewed by your physician.
• Avoid sugar (including fruit juice). It slows down the white blood cells’ ability to function and fight off infection. It is also important to increase water consumption.
• Vitamin supplementation can be helpful in improving immune function; discuss supplements with your health care provider.
• A child who has been on antibiotics has experienced a change in the normal bacterial level of the intestine. It is critical to introduce a probiotic such as Lactobacillus acidophilus or bifidus supplements to restore the normal environment.
These approaches are currently being used successfully to care for children suffering from otitis media. It must be remembered that all children are individuals; what works for one child may not work for another. Parents should work together with their child’s pediatric chiropractic physician, pediatrician and other natural health care providers so their collaborative efforts will bring about the most effective and least invasive solution for this common pediatric health problem.
Risa Sloves, DC, DICCP, is one of 12 chiropractic physicians in Connecticut who is board certified in pediatric and maternity care. She can be reached at Associates in Family Chiropractic and Natural Health Care in Norwalk at 203-838-1555 or CTChiropractic.com. See ad, page 32.