Is your child falling victim to chronic ear infections? If so, they are definitely not alone. From the painful sleepless nights to the countless trips to the doctor, one third of children experience six or more episodes of ear infections by the age of 7 years old. Thankfully for you, there are ways to not only stop this cycle, but also prevent them almost entirely.
First off, let’s understand what the problem is. Bacteria are always present in the ear. A common misconception is that we need to kill the bacteria to prevent ear infections. When in reality, the terrain is far more important. We all have a tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat, the eustachian tube. Its purpose is to maintain equal pressure behind the eardrum. Children have a shorter and straighter tube that makes them more prone to ear infections. Why is this? Because their tubular structure makes it harder for them to clear mucus. The tube is more easily plugged, providing the perfect environment for bacteria to take over.
” Increasing nutrient levels and removing inflammatory substances is the key. “
So how can you prevent these painful and recurring ear infections?
Dairy is one of the top contributors of inflammation. Eliminating dairy is a key step. This includes removing all dairy from the diet, including milk, yogurt, butter, ice cream etc. If the child is being breast-fed, then the mother will have to remove all dairy intake from her own diet. While dairy is the most common culprit, other food sensitivities can contribute to inflammation as well. You may need to experiment taking out different foods, one at a time, that your child regularly has. The most common to start with being gluten, soy, corn, eggs and nightshades.
Sugar helps feed bacteria and also aids inflammation. Removing sugar or greatly reducing sugar intake is another major aid. Keep an eye on sugar intake, especially in foods like jam, gummies, soda and even fruit. Some fruits have high-sugar content that can still feed the infection. This includes bananas, mangos and papaya.
Although this step is also about sugar, it is often overlooked. Many parents substitute soda and high-energy sugar drinks with juice, which is a great alternative, but when looking at the label it is another culprit of high-sugar content. Removing or reducing consumption of juice is another important step. An alternative can be water with squeezes of real fruit or watering down organic real-fruit juices.
If you are dealing with an infant, bottle-feeding in a reclined position can be another factor in reoccurring ear infections. In addition, reducing pacifier use past 10-18 months can also help prevent chronic ear infections.
Increasing nutrient levels in your child is essential. As far as children’s multivitamins go, my personal favorite is called Ultra Preventative Kids, an orange flavored chewable by Douglas Labs. Additional vitamins and minerals are an added help in preventing infection. These include vitamin D, vitamin A, and zinc. Ask your Doctor about correct dosage for your child.
Besides the listed dietary, vitamin and mineral suggestions, various biotherapies are greatly beneficial as well. You can contact your local Naturopathic Doctor to learn more ways to help deal with ear infections, as well as additional steps to prevent further ear complications.