Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ear Infections

Thanks to for photo
One of the most common health problems in children is ear infections.  The typical problem arises in the wee little tube called the Eustachian tube -- a specially God-engineered piece of work that functions to equalize air pressure on the ear drum.  The trouble arises when the Eustachian tube gets blocked, usually by excess mucus, as from a cold, allergy, or swollen tonsils.  Bacteria then overgrow in the warm culture there, which are then attacked by the immune system generating lots of inflammation and heat that envelopes the ear drum.  The diagram above is an ear of an adult.  In children the Eustachian tube is situated more horizontally, so it does not drain as readily as adults.  Hence, children are more prone to infections.  They will tend to outgrow ear infections as their jaw and skull grow to shift the Eustachian tube into a more vertical position.

Conventional medical treatment usually consists of piercing the ear drum and placing a tiny plastic tube in the hole.  This equalizes the pressure, improves hearing and allows air in to help dry out the moisture bacteria need.  Use of antibiotics in the past has typically been commonplace.  With antibiotic resistance problems what they are, antibiotic use has become more judicious.

Treating the cause of illness is a primary naturopathic medicine principle.  In the case of chronic ear infections the cause is most frequently an allergy.  The most common allergies affecting ears are dust, cow's milk, and molds.  Eliminating a child's exposure to these allergens may be the simplest treatment.  Frequently dusting a child's room, running a child's pillow case through a clothes dryer every night, and making sure the windows in a child's room do not collect mildew are three helpful tricks.  The homeopathic remedy, Kali Mur, will often act as an infection preventive.  Ear oils containing glycerine will draw fluids out of the ear drum and the oil's other herbs (mullein, garlic, St. John's Wort, etc.) aid with pain and inflammation.  Children's forms of Echinacea and Goldenseal boost immunity and help the body combat bacterial and viral infections.  Vitamin C with bioflavonoids given over a long period of time help strengthen cell membranes, making them less reactive.  Finally, a health professional qualified in homeopathy can usually find a remedy that will improve your child's constitution such that they are less prone to ear problems.

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