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 Integrative Medicine: Childhood Ear Infections 
 

Frequent ear infections are the most common reason for childhood surgery. If your child has had more than three ear infections within a six-month period, with resulting documented hearing loss, surgery may be recommended. Myringotomy is one of the most common operations performed in the United States. In this procedure, performed under general anesthesia, a physician inserts tiny plastic tubes into the middle ear to allow drainage of the fluid that is not draining, as it should, through the eustachian tube. Once in place, the tubes do not hurt. Your child should not even be aware of them. If infected tonsils or adenoids are causing recurring ear infections, your doctor may recommend tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy. Reports of long-term outcomes for these treatments are contradictory, however.

Some doctors prescribe a steroid, prednisone, for children with chronic ear infections. Steroids are powerful drugs with potentially serious side effects and are not suitable for long-term use. If your doctor recommends this, discuss in detail his or her reasons for thinking that this is the appropriate treatment for your child.


Dietary Guidelines
Keep your child well hydrated. If you are breastfeeding, do so frequently. Offer an older child plenty of spring water, soups, herbal teas, and diluted fruit juices.

Eliminate dairy foods. Dairy foods thicken and increase mucus, making it more difficult for an infected ear to drain.


Nutritional Supplements
For age-appropriate dosages of nutritional supplements, see Dosage Guidelines for Herbs and Nutritional Supplements.

Lactobacillus acidophilus or bifidus is valuable for a child who is taking antibiotics, who has chronic ear infections, or who has an ear infection with a stomachache. In addition to killing infectious bacteria, antibiotics strip the body of necessary friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract Replace the friendly bacteria by giving your child lactobacilli (either 1/4 teaspoon of powder, 1 teaspoon of liquid, or half of the contents of a capsule), once daily, two hours after administering the antibiotic.

Vitamin C and bioflavonoids are helpful for an ear infection. They are both mildly anti-inflammatory. Give a child over four years old one dose, six times daily. Select a product that contains mineral-ascorbate-buffered vitamin C but no sugar. For younger children, purchase a vitamin-C supplement made specifically for infants and toddlers.

Zinc boosts the immune response and helps reduce infection. Give your child zinc-based lozenges, two to three times daily, as needed, for a total of one dose of zinc a day.
Note: Excessive amounts of zinc can result in nausea and vomiting. Be careful not to exceed the recommended dosage.


Herbal Treatment
For age-appropriate dosages of nutritional supplements, see Dosage Guidelines for Herbs and Nutritional Supplements.

(Excerpted from Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child ISBN: 1583331395)
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 About The Author
Janet Zand LAc, OMDJANET ZAND, O.M.D., L.Ac. is a nationally respected author, lecturer, practitioner and herbal products formulator whose work has helped thousands of people achieve better health....more
 
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