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 Naturopathic Medicine : Otitis Media (Middle Ear Infections) 
 
Noel Peterson ND ©

For the last 4 years, 7 year old Tyler had endured three ear surgeries (under general anesthetic), sixteen courses of every pediatric antibiotic, countless exams, chronic nasal congestion, and constant sniffing and throat clearing. He was currently on a "preventive" daily dose of antibiotics and Cechlor. Yet he continued to have breakthrough ear infections. His doctors were recommending more tubes and a 1 year course of preventive antibiotics. More antibiotics, antihistamines and surgery were the only treatments offered. His parents had had enough. They learned their son was not alone.

In the United States:
Tubes are the number one childhood surgery requiring general anesthetic, with over 2 million tubes inserted annually at a cost of over $2 billion. 76% of children require replacement tubes within 4 years of the initial insertion. Antibiotics for middle ear disease are the most common childhood prescription in America, yet 88% of acute otitis media (AOM) clear without antibiotics. Antibiotics increase the recurrence rate of otitis media. For kids age 2-6, middle ear disease accounts for 34-42% of all visits to the pediatrician.

With all the successes of modern medicine, why have doctors failed so miserably in the treatment of otitis media? Until doctors pay attention to the causes of otitis media, millions of children will will be given antibiotics and surgery that, for most of them, will not help.

What can be done? Food sensitivities and sugar consumption are the most common cause of otitis media. Sugar suppresses cellular immunity and gives bacteria the edge they need to gain a foothold. 80% of food allergies are delayed and immune-complex mediated. When the food antigen load surpasses the body's ability to clear the food immune complexes from the circulation, tissue deposition, complement activation, and secretory inflammation of the ear, nose and throat occur.

Antibiotics aggravate the problem by altering normal bacterial flora, which increases bowel antigen influx and circulating antigen-antibody complexes. These in turn are deposited on the mucosa of the middle ear, Eustachian tube, and nasopharynx. Heavy deposits trigger the inflammatory cascade, mucosal damage, and middle ear fluid secretion (as well as a runny nose). The result is fluid build up, pressure, and in most cases, persistent or recurrent secretory otitis media.

After IgG-4 food allergy testing, we took Tyler off his antibiotics and antihistamines, and put him on an allergen free diet. We restored his normal flora, supported his immune system, and used a tried-and-true office procedure to drain the Eustachian tube. His ears have returned to normal, and for the first time in years he is free from antibiotics.

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