Ear infection after ear infection was the main concern of a parent of a young boy that was recently in my clinic.
By just the age of three years old, this young boy had already experienced seven ear infections. Each of these infections were treated by a course of antibiotics, which caused a multitude of stomach concerns.
This is a common scenario that I see all too often in my office.
Next on the list for this little boy was to have tubes put in his ears to help drain them and prevent future ear infections.
Before the mother proceeded with the ear tubes, I suggested that she remove just one food group from her child’s diet, dairy, as I see the removal of this food prevents future infections in over 80 per cent of the cases that come through my office.
The incidence of an ear infection in children by age three is 83 per cent, with an average of 1.5 infection episodes per year. As you can see, it is not abnormal or uncommon to have an ear infection in young children, but as a naturopathic doctor, I do consider it abnormal to have multiple (three or more) ear infections and consider it possibly a sign of an underlying issue.
It is important to first point out common risk factors for recurrent ear infections, which include:
l Age under five years old
l Attending day care
l Respiratory illness
l Smokers in home
l Predominantly males
l Use of pacifiers
Being aware of the above risk factors and making any possible changes can help.
However, if your child or a child you know is still chronically struggling with ear infections, the next best thing in my opinion is to completely eliminate dairy from the child’s diet for a trial period of eight weeks.
I so often see dairy removal being the main component in preventing future infections. Dairy tends to be a mucous-forming food and for children already struggling with congestion of the respiratory tract, it helps ease if not eliminate the issue.
Other natural treatments can be used in conjunction with dairy removal, such as:
l Vitamin C
l Vitamin A
The above amounts would depend on each child’s age, weight and other current medical conditions.
If your child or a child you know needs more support and you want a second opinion before opting for ear tubes, talk to your naturopathic doctor about what the best treatment plan for them.
Dr. Shane Johnson ND was born and raised in Red Deer and is the owner of Aspire Natural Medicine. He completed his naturopathic medical training at Bastyr University, and is among only a handful of naturopathic doctors in Alberta to complete an additional one-year residency in family medicine. For more detailed information on naturopathic medicine visit www.aspiremedicine.ca.