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Childhood Ear Infections Holistic Care

A report from the Agency for Health care Research and Quality (AHRQ) suggests that children may not always need antibiotics to treat a middle ear infection (otitis media). Researchers from the Southern California RAND Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) found some interesting findings, including: Nearly two-thirds of children with uncomplicated ear infections recover from pain and fever within 24 hours of diagnosis without antibiotic treatment - Over 80% recover within 1 to 7 days. A study, published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal on February 12, 2001 suggest that homeopathy is effective in the treatment of acute otitis media in young children.

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Childhood Ear Infection: Alternative to Antibiotics and Ear Tubes

No more Amoxicillian Professor Graham Bell, from McGill University in Canada, warns that the new antibiotics pose "a serious and unprecedented" risk to public health. He warns that regulatory authorities tend not to look many years ahead when deciding whether to grant licenses to new drugs.

"They are poorly designed to detect even grave and highly probable risks to public health arising from the population biology of microbes. Instead of dismissing the possibility that widespread resistance will evolve, we should use the bitter experience that we have gained from conventional antibiotics to plan for it."

"Diarrhea, abdominal pain, severe inflammation of the colon (colitis), irritable bowel syndrome, skin problems, fever, elevated white blood cell count, weak immune system, vomiting, dehydration, potassium deficiencies, allergies, colon perforation, bad breath, excess stomach gas, yeast problems, nutritional deficiencies and constipation are just some of the many side effects and problems linked to antibiotics.

Ear infections are troubling childhood ailments. David A. Holland, M.D.on childhood ear infections: "In one study, children administered antibiotics for acute otitis media suffered double the rate of adverse effects compared to children in the study who took placebos (Clinical Evidence. 2000). The difference in outcome for those children in the study who took antibiotics compared to those who do not was almost negligible."

Doctors Overuse Antibiotics in Children

One of the hardest things for a parent is to watch their child in pain and not be able to help. If your child has a pattern of repeated ear infections, you probably feel helpless. The conventional medical approach is to give antibiotics every time an ear infection is diagnosed. Or if these are ineffective, a tympanostomy (tubes) is performed . Most conventional doctors will convince you that there is no other option. Instead of giving antibiotics every time your child has an ear infection, homeopathy, and raising the glutathione level can strengthen your child's health so that the whole pattern of getting sick stops.

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Most Ear Infections Clear Up Without Antibiotics

A newly released report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) suggests that children may not always need antibiotics to treat a middle ear infection (otitis media). Researchers from the Southern California/RAND Evidence-based Practice Center(EPC) found some interesting findings, including: Nearly two-thirds of children with uncomplicated ear infections recover from pain and fever within 24 hours of diagnosis without antibiotic treatment - Over 80% recover within 1 to 7 days.

When penicillin and other wonder drugs revolutionized Western medicine in the 1940s and '50s, it seemed as though every infectious illness could be cured with a few pills or injections. But half a century after it began, the golden age of antibiotics is ending with the alarming news that the drugs that were supposed to save the world have instead spawned an epidemic that may destroy it. Antibiotics and ear tubes treat symptoms of a problem. They do not strengthen the organism so that it can fight the infection itself, nor do they make the organism less resistant to future infection.

While Dr. Carlson concedes that antibiotics can save lives, he warns that both physicians and patients must be judicious in their use of antibiotics. If they are overused, they are more likely to become ineffective in treating bacteria. “Antibiotics are not always the answer,” he says. “Sometimes it just makes sense to let an ailment run its natural course.”

Dr. James Howenstine, MD - "Multitudes of infants have frequent recurring ear infections. These “infections” usually subside when milk intake ceases as they are often caused by allergy to milk. Many children have tubes placed in their ear canals because of these “ear infections”. This procedure has recently been discovered to lead to decreased hearing as adults. This whole infantile ear infection problem is usually milk allergy not bacterial infection."

The Role of Glutathione GSH Level in Illness

Specialists in ear, nose and throat (ENT) and in dentistry have only recently become aware of the role of (GSH) in the diseases they treat. The respiratory tract is lined with a fluid made up of a complicated mixture of biochemicals and cells of the immune system, called the respiratory tract lining fluid (RTLF). Glutathione is the main antioxidant in this fluid and provides our initial defense against inhaled toxins. Institutions like the Inhalation and Toxicology Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico started researching the role of antioxidant enzyme activities in RTLF in the early 1990's. More recent work at the University of California (Davis) elaborates further on the role of antioxidants in this fluid.

This research project is only one of several focusing on the importance of glutathione in respiratory tract lining fluids, where it protects us from xenobiotics and infection. In severe or prolonged illness, these GSH levels may become depleted and enable the disease to progress and cause further complications. Furthermore, N.S. Krishna and his team at the University of Kentucky showed that this glutathione defense system weakens with aging, and more quickly in men than women.

Taking Out Adenoids Does NOT Help Ear Infections -Conclusions from a study showed that removal of the adenoids, often associated with swollen tonsils, as the first surgical treatment with children the ages of 10 to 24 months with recurrent middle ear infections, was not effective in preventing further episodes. British Medical Journal February 28, 2004; 328:487 (Free Full-Text Article)

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Post-Traumatic Ear Infection Syndrome

Kelly Dorfman, M.S.

Eleven years ago a group of parents and professional discussed concerns about the emergence of a regressive autistic like syndrome, later named Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). All knew children whose development regressed following frequent otitis media (inner ear infections.) Could ear infections be causing PDD? Developmental Delay Resources (DDR) was founded, in part, to answer this question and to determine efficacious treatments. The autism epidemic now claims an estimate one in 160 children. Experts currently suspect vaccinations and the mercury-based preservative thimerosal as major culprits. Ear infections, although not causative, remain shadowy contributors. Both are part of the “total load” in susceptible children. A subgroup of children with attention problems or autistic spectrum characteristics, have a condition I have named Post-Traumatic Ear Infection Syndrome (PTEIS). These kids, apparently normal at birth, develop subsequent auditory processing issues, distractibility and developmental delays as a result of complications from sustained damage to the inner ear from both otitis media and its treatment.

Why Ear Infections Are Such a Problem

Frequent ear infections are a sign of weak immune function
Most children on the autistic spectrum have underlying immune problems. Either they are born with weak immunity, and are thus more reactive to foods or they react to foods, thus weakening their immune systems. Resultant ear infections are the symptom of a deeper underlying problem. A classic study one by Tala Nsouli, an allergist in the Washington, D.C. area that about 90% of children with ear infections or fluid have food allergies. When the offenders are eliminated, ear infections subside. Kids with food allergies get sick more often because their immune systems focus on reacting to foods, rather than on fighting germs.

The antibiotics used to treat ear infections may make children more susceptible to mercury damage Preliminary studies by Dr. Boyd Haley, a world authority on mercury at the University of Kentucky, found that ampicillin and tetracycline increase thimerosal-induced neuronal death. In other words, less mercury does more damage in the presence of these antibiotics. Furthermore, all antibiotics kill good gut bacteria, essential to resist mercury uptake.

Perpetuating an Illness Cycle

Allergies, ear infections, thimerosal and antibiotics are a toxic cocktail for the nervous system. A child eats an allergic food and develops an ear infection. The doctor prescribes an antibiotic, killing both good and bad bacteria, leaving the gut lining irritated, and further stimulating an allergic response. Now the child is more reactive to foods, and develops additional ear infections, thus perpetuating an illness cycle. Introduce into this disturbing spiral a thimerosal-containing vaccine or one that acts on the gut lining, like measles. Who will be more likely to sustain vaccine damage: the toddler with an already irritated gut lining and reactive immune system, or a healthy child?

Dr. James Adams recently found that children with autism had ten times more ear infections during their first three years than typical kids. Almost 20 % also experienced a severe vaccine reaction. Another recent study linked Augmentin (a broad based antibiotic) to the development of autism.

Ear infections are associated with auditory processing problems

Children are born with hearing but they must learn how to listen. Ear infections that occur during critical developmental periods negatively affect auditory processing. Youngsters whose ears are clogged up with fluid cannot interact appropriately with their environments. Between Beyond Antibiotics birth and three, children learn to distinguish sounds and interpret them in context. They must filter out unimportant sounds such as the air conditions, and focus on important ones, such as a mother’s voice. Distracted an inattentive behavior is the result of the inability to sort significant auditory input from the extraneous. Studies have found that middle and high school students who are more distracted than their peers experienced early ear infections.

What To Do About Ear Infections

Remove problematic foods. The four problem foods most associated with ear infections are dairy products, wheat, soy and eggs. Before trying an extreme elimination diet, consider taking foods made from cow’s milk out of the diet first. This change alone is often sufficient to reduce or stop infections.

Use good bacteria. Probiotics, available in the refrigerator section of health food stores, balance the digestive tract and reduce allergic tendencies. It may take some trial and error to find the right product for your individual situation. Some are too strong and will increase gas and irritability; others are not potent enough. If symptoms do not alleviate in a few days, reduce the dose or change brands.

Relationship between Middle Ear Infections and Inattention

The main culprit for attentional deficits is often believed to be the result of hearing loss (even mild), early in a child's life due to complications with the middle ear, including infections, allergy-related causes or build-up of fluids in the canal. As a result, the child begins to miss out on verbal cues, and does not develop the same level of response to an adult voice. Auditory deficiencies (including auditory processing disorders) may stem from this key development period, even if the hearing difficulties are only temporary.

Not surprisingly, there is a wealth of data associated with hearing loss due to middle ear complications can lead to language processing difficulties. We have seen how auditory processing disorders can often occur as a comorbid factor in ADHD, and may be linked to seemingly unrelated behaviors including comorbid anxiety and conduct-related disorders. It is important to note, however, that other early childhood studies have not seen a link between infection and attentional difficulties (observed by parents, teachers, or clinicians).

Interestingly, environment may play a huge role in explaining this discrepancy between study results. One study found that children who had middle ear complications early on along with poor home environments were significantly more likely to develop attentional difficulties (along the lines of what would be classified as ADHD). Therefore, the effects of early ear infections on compromised attentional difficulties may be significantly reduced if a supportive home environment is maintained for a child. This is good news for parents of children with ear infections. But what about the hyperactive component of ADHD?

For over 30 years, researchers have linked high rates of ear infections and hyperactivity. Later studies confirmed these findings, including one which reported the majority of children medicated for hyperactivity had a past history of 10 or more childhood ear infections. These numbers were in sharp contrast to the prevalence of ADHD in non-hyperactive children.

Vaccination Thimerosal Induced Chronic Ear Infections

Peter Baratosy, M.B., B.S., Ph.D. - "I see many children in my practice. Some are immunized and some are not, my own children are not. I see the difference between the immunized and the non-immunized. They're much healthier and have less infections, colds, otitis media and tonsillitis. Dr. Michael Odent has written a letter in the JAMA (1994) where his figures show a five times higher rate of asthma in pertussis immunized children compared to non-immunized children. He is also quoted in the International Vaccination Newsletter (Sept. 1994): "Immunized children have more ear infections and spend more days in hospital."

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Breast Feeding has proven to protect against Ear Infections

Breast Feeding made simple Recent studies show that the longer a baby is nursed, the less likely he or she will be to contract otitis media and other infections. Possible reasons for this are that mother's milk contains antibodies that protect against disease, and that nursing precludes the use of cow's milk (an irritant to the eustachian tube and a common allergen). Causative factors involved in earaches, ear Inflammation and infections is susceptibilitywhich can be triggered by substituting early bottle feeding for breast feeding.

Human breast milk seems to have a prophylactic effect on a baby, although the exact reason why is not understood: that is, whether it has more to do with an intolerance to the cow's milk or the natural immune boost provided by mother's milk, or a combination of both. A related factor to bottle feeding is that supine feeding with the bottle has been shown to cause regurgitation of the milk which then has a chance of entering the Eustachian tube. Another very common etiological factor in children is one or more food or inhalant allergies.

Dr. Mercola - " The treatment of ear infections in this country is a HUGE problem. Most of the chronically sick children I see were given antibiotics frequently for recurrent ear infections. The sad tragedy is that nearly all of these are preventable by simply changing the diet. Avoiding milk and dairy is the single largest issue, but clearly other food allergens contribute. Even with the best diets though a child may get an infection. This does not mean that the child needs antibiotics. The simple solution to is to put a few drops of breast milk in the ear canal every few hours. This usually works to clear up the infection within 24-48 hours and is far safer, less expensive and a better solution than putting the child on antibiotics. If the mother is not breastfeeding, it is likely she knows someone who is. All that is required for the treatment is about one half ounce of breast milk, so obtaining that from a friend will work just as well. If you know someone who has a child with ear infections PLEASE forward them this article. You may make a huge impact on the future health of that child."

Parents guide to ear tubes Dr. Moskowitz on vaccines and ear infections - "A critical factor in the long term treatment of otitis media is the effect of vaccinations on the immune system. He strongly advises parents against vaccinating their children until they are completely over the cycle of ear infections. Many parents don't realize what an added stress a series of vaccinations, such as the DPT booster, poses to the child's weakened immune system. Dr.Moskowitz has seen many children who are nearly cured of a chonic ear infection have the cycle return following a routine immunization."

Herbal Medicine

Herbal remedies for ear infections include the internal use of echinacea, as well as garlic oil capsules, says Dr. Hoffman. He also recommends drops of Mullein flower oil in the ear, as long as there is no perforation of the ear drum. Hoffman tells of a six year old boy who was diagnosed as having neurological deafness (damage to the auditory nerve in both ears) . Though the child was not in any pain, he had not been hearing well in class. He came to Hoffman with his family, all of whom suffered from severe sinus problems. The herbs prescribed to the family members,goldenrod, echinacea and raw garlic helped reduce excessive secretion of mucous. Since there are no herbs that can cure neurological deafness, Hoffman did not expect the child's hearing loss to improve. However, in treating the whole family for sinus blockage, with a low-mucous diet and the prescribed herbs, the boy's sinus problem cleared up and his hearing did improve. Hoffman concluded that the child had been misdiagnosed and that 50 % of his hearing problem had been due to mucous buildup resulting from a prolonged infection in the middle ear and was not related to nerve damage.

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Homeopathy a Good Alternative for Treating Ear Infections

Homeopathy for Children The applications of homeopathy are widespread -- everything from treating the common cold to clearing up childhood ear infections. It's this latest use that caught the attention of a group of West Coast researchers, who set out to evaluate in a scientific way the many reports of homeopathic success. The study, which appears in the February issue of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, was funded by the Standard Homeopathic Company and took place in a private pediatric practice in Seattle. Children with middle ear infection received either a homeopathic remedy geared to their specific symptoms, or a placebo. They took the pills three times daily for five days, or until their ear pain and fever got better, whichever came first. The children, aged 18 months to 6 years, were divided into two groups, with 36 receiving homeopathic treatment and 39 getting placebo. Neither the researchers nor the parents knew which treatment each child got until the study was over. Eight different homeopathic remedies were given in combinations that were individualized for each child, depending on his or her mood, type of pain, amount of thirst, and length of time with symptoms.

Antibiotics and ear tubes treat symptoms of a problem. They do not strengthen the organism so that it can fight the infection itself, nor do they make the organism less resistant to future infection. A study, published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal on 2/12/01, is the first placebo-controlled study to suggest that homeopathy is effective in the treatment of acute otitis media in young children. Their randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, pilot study of 75 children aged 18 months to six years with middle ear effusion and ear pain and/or fever for no more than 36 hours was conducted in Seattle Washington by Jennifer Jacobs, M.D.

Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Herbal Alternatives to Antibiotics Testimonial: "When my 9 year old was little she had earaches from 2 months old to 18 months. Finally tired of all the antibiotics, I tried garlic and mullein drops and sweet echinacea. in 2 weeks no more ear trouble. She doesn't even have scars from all the swelling from the fluid. They wanted to put tubes in. Glad I waited." - Sharon Cloud

Ear infection: avoiding ear tubes
Date: 10/22/2000

Ear hurts My nephew always seemed to have ear infections. Ever since I can remember he was put on Antibiotics. It got so bad that my sister- in-law was informed by my nephew's doctor that they need to put tubes in his ears. God acts in mysterious ways really, we are in a grocery store and this woman overheard us talking about the surgery. She told us how an herb called Echinacea had helped her son. She also tried Garlic/ Mullein leaf oil as well. So, he tried it for 2-3 weeks and what a relief when we found out that the infection had totally cleared. It is so sad that they don't teach doctors much about nutrition but instead they pump kids with all kinds of medications and antibiotics.


Breast feeding has proven to protect against ear infections. Recent studies show that the longer a baby is nursed, the less likely he or she will be to contract otitis media and other infections. Possible reasons for this are that mother's milk contains antibodies that protect against disease, and that nursing precludes the use of cow's milk (an irritant to the eustachian tube and a common allergen).

While the dangers of formula feeding aren’t something you’re likely to hear in your doctor’s office, the conclusions can be derived through an examination of the available scientific research on infant mortality in the United States and across the world. There are studies showing artificial feeding’s impact on overall infant death rates in both developing and undeveloped countries. While studies offering comparative death rates are not available for industrialized regions, there are numerous studies providing comparative occurrence rates for many illnesses and disorders in the United States and other industrialized nations. Many more reports are available extolling superior survival rates and decreased illness rates among breastfed infants, but only those with solid numbers are useful here. We can assemble the statistics from these studies to build a firm picture of the ratio of infant deaths for U.S. formula-fed babies against those who are breastfed.

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Comprehensive look at Omega-3 deficiency

Another paper worth reading is the report given by Artemis Simopoulos, M.D., a pediatrician and endocrinologist from the International Life Sciences Institute.7 She takes a comprehensive look at how the Omega-3 deficiency affects many areas, from fetal growth to arthritis and cancer.

A healthy mother's milk is high in essential fatty acids, GLA, and other precursors to prostaglandins. Cow's milk is low in essential fatty acids, and other prostaglandin precursors, and is high in saturated fats. For this reason, cow's milk is not an adequate substitute for mother's milk. Neither is baby formula. At a recent international symposium on Dietary Omega-3 and -6 Fatty acids Dr. Neuringer, an authority on infant milk, stated that the low Omega-3, high Omega-6 content in infant formulas is of great concern because of the imbalance it causes among the resultant prostaglandins. These imbalances could impair the immune system and predispose the infant to cancer and heart trouble later in life. Feeding a non nursing baby a few drops of flaxseed oil will provide the Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids.

There is a growing incidence of allergic diseases in the Western world and researchers acknowledge the need to offer primary protection to reverse the trend. The ideal source of infant nutrition to provide protection from these diseases is breast-milk. Its role, however, is elusive.

Pediatricians in Finland undertook a double-blind, placebo controlled study to determine the potential for protection against allergic diseases by administering probiotics. Mothers who received probiotics during pregnancy and lactation improved their anti-inflammatory transforming growth TGF in their milk. In addition, it was shown that the risk of developing eczema during the infants first two years was significantly reduced compared with the placebo group.

Researchers concluded that maternal allergies were a positive risk for eczema in the infant. In addition infants who appeared to benefit the most from maternal probiotics supplementation were those whose cord blood Immunoglobulin E (IgE) concentration was elevated.