Why do our children get chronic ear infections? The naturopathic perspective.
by Eugene Bubis, ND

What is the number one reason why parents bring their children to see a pediatrician? Both pediatricians and parents will agree that it is otitis media, (which is commonly called an ear infection). Who hasn't heard a mom complaining about her child's repeated ear pain? What mom hasn't questioned the efficacy of antibiotics after receiving the tenth prescription for it, when after all the expense and side effects, the problem still remains unresolved?

In order to find the answers to these questions, and to free our children from this annoying condition, we need to understand the mechanism and underlying cause of otitis media. Conventional and naturopathic medicine agree about the actual physiology and pathology of the condition. But, these two schools of medicine attribute the cause to very different factors.

Otitis media occurs when there is a bacterial growth in the internal ear leading to inflammation, which produces fluid build-up, local pain, fever and some other symptoms. Conventional medicine considers bacteria to be the root of the problem, and therefore directs the treatment to kill the bacteria with antibiotics. This appears to be a logical 'solution', which in practice however, fails more often than it works.

Naturopathic medicine agrees that bacteria are overgrowing. But, anyone who knows a little bit about microbiology is perfectly aware that in order for the bacteria to grow, a very strict set of conditions must be met. Each bacteria requires a certain temperature, moisture, and sugar content of the media for it to survive and multiply.

These requirements apply not only in the microbiology lab, but also inside the human organism. In other words, children get ear infections because their bodies provide a 'nourishing' environment for the bacteria. It is not because they have an antibiotic deficiency.

At this point, the real question is, "How do our children become 'bacteria-friendly' media?" Let's take a look at what they eat, and how it makes them prone to infections in general and otitis media in particular. Obviously candies, cakes, hamburgers, french fries, pizzas and other fast food appeal to our kids. This is a fact, but the reasons for that appeal are beyond the scope of this article. The important factor is that these foods have little nutritional value, and provide excessive 'empty calories' in the form of simple carbohydrates and sugars. And, carbohydrates turn into sugar just like candy bars. Remember what bacteria feed on? Yes, bacteria feed on sugar. and if you remove it from a microbiological media, bacteria simply won't be able grow. By the same logic: reduce the sugar load on the human body, and bacteria will have harder time infecting it.

Another important factor allowing pathological bacteria to overgrow in our bodies is a weak immune system. Long-term overuse of antibiotics suppresses the immune system. And, it is the immune system which is supposed to protect us from infections in the first place.

From the naturopathic prospective, the single most important thing to understand is that an ear infection itself is a consequence, not a cause. It is a consequence of nutritional imbalances and a weak immune system. For a treatment to be successful over the long run, it should address and remove the underlying causes of the problem.

In the case of an ear infection, naturopathic medicine seeks to address the cause rather than merely mask the symptoms. Therefore, naturopathic treatment for otitis media may include the use of a natural antibiotic if necessary for comfort, but the emphasis would be on a low sugar diet, eliminating allergens from the diet, and strengthening the immune system.

Moving toward a healthy lifestyle includes: 1) Basic dietary changes; 2) Determining and avoiding food allergens; 3) Simple vitamin and nutritional supplements that will make your child stronger and less 'appealing' to pathological bacterial overgrowth; 4) Selected homeopathic remedy to improve your child's overall vitality and to strengthen the defense mechanisms; 5) Appropriate hydrotherapy treatment to increase circulation and relieve local congestion and the associated pain. 6) A well-formulated herbal formula to boost the immune system, while providing direct antimicrobial effect.

The above outlined naturopathic approach to otitis media has proven to be very effective and fundamentally curative. Naturopathic physicians throughout the country use it with a great deal of success bringing permanent relief to children and peace of mind to their parents. While treatment of otitis media always requires a qualified health care practitioner, always remember that your health is in your hands. No doctor can make you or your child truly healthy unless you commit to it.

Naturopathic medicine considers diet to be the most fundamental basis of reaching and maintaining good health. A healthy diet ensures good health, while a poor diet tops the list of factors compromising our well being. Decrease sugar and simple carbohydrates in your children's diet. Significantly reduce the most common food allergens, such as milk products, wheat, peanuts and potato. Avoid highly processed foods. Encourage your children to eat more vegetables. Then, watch them grow healthier and happier.

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