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 Naturopathic Medicine : Otitis Media: Fact Sheet 
 
Noel Peterson ND ©

Number of office visits per year for ear infections in the U.S. :
30 million, for a cost of over $1 billion yearly

Estimated number of antibiotic prescriptions given to children for ear infections alone in 1990:
Over twenty-five million prescriptions, with over 1 billion individual doses of antibiotics given to children for ear infections yearly. In other parts of the world,(e.g., Scandinavian countries), physicians use antibiotics only when complications develop or are expected to develop.

Percentage of ear infections which will clear on their own with out antibiotics:
Eighty-eight percent

Number one surgical procedure performed in the U.S. (requiring general anaesthetic):
Tympanostomy tubes. These are plastic grommets punched through the ear drum under general anaesthetic. Often accumulated cellular debris is cleaned from the middle ear during surgery. They "ventilate" the middle ear, relieving pressure but doing little to address the causes of otitis media.

Number of tympanostomy tubes surgically implanted in childrens ears :
Over 2 million yearly

Cost of surgical insertion of tympanostomy tubes in the U.S.:
Over $2 billion yearly

Percentage of children requiring replacement tubes within 4 years of initial tube insertion:
Seventy six percent

Number of studies demonstrating that tubes work better than non-surgical treatment:
None. In fact, recent studies have compared tympanostomy tubes to antibiotic therapy and myringotomy. The group with tubes developed a higher rate of recurrent otitis, hearing loss, ear drum retraction, and tympanosclerosis ( i.e., atrophy and scarring at the site of tube insertion).

Cost of conventional treatment of ear infections, per child:
Average: $1093
Range : $144 - $7137

Cost of naturopathic medical treatment of ear infections, per child:
Range: $208 - $668

Number of studies supporting naturopathic protocols for the treatment of otitis media:
Over thirty.

Six double blind clinical trials, six other controlled studies and over twenty supportive studies including uncontrolled clinical trials &epidemiological or animal studies. Naturopathic treatment consists of screening for food and environmental sensitivities, correcting nutrient deficiencies, and increasing the patient's resistance to disease through natural methods and simple supportive treatment.

Naturopathic practice assumes that several complimentary treatment methods, acting in concert, will be more effective than a singe method used alone. Treatment protocols are individualized. Naturopathic protocol includes the prescribing of antibiotic when appropriate. Some cases may be referred for surgical placement of tympanostomy tubes.

Long term benefits to routine antibiotic and surgical treatment of otitis media:
None. Conventional treatment does not affect the long term incidence or severity of ear infections, or have any long term cost benefit over no treatment at all. Long term antibiotic use is medically controversial. Studies indicate that children treated with antibiotics have a higher incidence of repeat ear infections when compared to children treated without antibiotics. The most common antibiotics are often associated with adverse toxic side effects, including diarrhea, vomiting, diaper rash, Bactrim, an antibiotic commonly used to treat ear infections in children, can produce over sixty kinds of side effects,.

Long term benefits of Naturopathic treatment of otitis media:
Many. Identification and elimination of underlying allergies, food sensitivities, or nutrient deficiencies with naturopathic treatment can reduce the incidence of a wide variety of subsequent problems. Correction of underlying immune weakness can lower future incidence of otitis and other upper respiratory infections.

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