A bacterial or viral infection in the middle ear, usually secondary to an upper respiratory infection.
Middle ear infection is one of the most common early childhood diseases and is often the result of Eustachian tube problems. Normally the Eustachian tube is closed and flat, preventing organisms from the pharyngeal cavity from entering the middle ear. It will open to allow drainage of secretions produced by the middle ear mucosa and to equalize pressure between the middle ear and the outside environment. If the drainage is impaired, the normal secretions are retained causing any air in the tube to be reabsorbed and the production of a negative pressure within the middle ear. If the tube opens, the negative pressure will result in bacteria being swept into the middle ear and quickly proliferate. As purulent fluid accumulates in the middle ear there will be increasing discomfort. Infants will become irritable and indicate discomfort by holding or pulling their ears, or rolling their heads from side to side. Young children will complain of pain (to put it mildly!).Otitis media may be accompanied by fever of up to 104 degrees.
In serous otitis media the child may not appear ill. There may be a feeling of fullness in the ear, a popping sensation during swallowing. The child will be less responsive and may have some painless hearing loss.
Inflammation of the tympanic membrane alone is not diagnostic of either condition. Just as a child's cheeks, the tympanic membrane will flush with increased crying, allergy, or mild physical irritation. Unfortunately many pediatricians will prescribe antibiotic medication on the basis of a slightly red membrane. It is not unusual for children to have had numerous episodes of medication. It is more difficult to treat children after long term medication has failed to get rid of the condition.
Actions indicated for the processes behind this disease
Anti-microbials are, of course, the key successful clearing of the infection.
Anti-Inflammatory herbs may be helpful but work best topically.
Alteratives and Lymphatic Tonics can prove most effective in moving intransigent problems.
One possible prescription
Echinacea spp. --- --- --- 2 parts
Baptisia tinctoria --- --- --- 1 part
Galium aparine --- --- --- 1 part to -- -- -- 5 ml of tincture taken 3 times a day.
Warm Mullein flower oil introduced into the ear can be an effective anti-inflammatory.
Broader Context of Treatment
Murray and Pizzorno recommend these supplements, with dosage varying with age:
Beta-carotene: age x 20, 000 international units a day (200, 000 iu maximum)
Vitamin C: age x 500 mg a day
Zinc picolinate: age x 2.5 mg a day (15 mg maximum)
Bioflavonoids: age x 50 mg a day (250 mg maximum)
Evening Primrose Oil: age x 1 capsules a day