What are the childhood infections of the ears, nose and throat?

Ear, nose, and throat infections are very common today, especially within the first couple of years of life. Infections can occur in the middle ear, tonsils, adenoids, sinuses, or other parts of these small, moist areas. Doctors who treat these infections are ear, nose and throat doctors, or simply, ENTs. Some diagnoses familiar to many parents are conjunctivitis, allergies, rhinitis or hay fever, sinusitis, and strep throat.

More children suffer from upper respiratory infections than ever before. Some specialists believe that chronic infections in these areas, and using antibiotics to treat them, may lead to developmental delays.

What will your doctor tell you about infections of the ears, nose and throat?

Pediatric ENTs usually diagnose infections in the ears, nose and throat with conventional tools such as swabs, x-rays, lab tests, CT scans, and by taking a medical history. Standard, conventional treatment protocols usually include medications, such as antibiotics to treat the infections, surgery to remove infected tissues or place ear tubes, or even both medications and surgery.

If the infections are chronic, doctors often prescribe prophylactic or long term usage of antibiotics, sometimes accompanied by the insertion of ear tubes in a procedure called a tympanostomy. These tubes are believed to reduce recurrent ear infections by draining persistent fluid in the middle-ear cavity, which causes the mucous membrane to become inflamed, making it very susceptible to an infection by whatever bacteria are lurking in the nose and throat. An estimated 700,000 ear tubes are inserted into children’s ears in the United States each year to prevent ear infections.

Parents are usually advised to see a physician immediately to start a treatment protocol as soon as possible to avoid further aggravated problems.

Another way to think about infections of the ears, nose and throat:

Common childhood infections of the ears, nose and throat could be symptoms of underlying immune dysfunction often related to food and environmental allergies, nutritional deficiencies or other underlying imbalances. Chronic upper respiratory infections may also be allergy-related. Children with immune system issues and allergies often have other symptoms such as red ears, dark circles under their eyes, skin rashes, hyperactivity, delayed development, mood swings, oppositional behaviors, diarrhea and/or constipation, eating issues, and runny noses, among other things. Doris Rapp, MD found that treating the underlying issues involving the immune system allows the body to heal itself naturally, and without unnecessary side effects from invasive treatments. Her book, Is This Your Child? is a must-read for any parent interested in alternatives to medication and surgery.

In a classic 1994 study, another allergist Talal Nsouli, MD at Georgetown University School of Medicine noticed that many of the children he treated for food allergies also had chronic ear infections or hearing loss. He began to wonder: Could allergies be causing their ear problems?

Intrigued, Nsouli and his colleagues gave three standard allergy tests to children aged 18 months to nine years to check for sensitivities to foods, including milk, wheat, eggs, and peanuts. All had had either a three-month bout with otitis media, an inflammation of the middle ear, or had repeated episodes over a period of five months.

In his sample of 104 children, 81 children showed allergies, most of them to milk or wheat. For the next four months, offending foods were eliminated from their diets. 70 got better. When the foods were then added back, and within four months, 66 children got ear infections again–strong evidence that allergies and ear infections are linked. Nsouli suggests that parents whose children have persistent ear infections ask their pediatricians about allergy testing.

Ear, nose and throat checklist.  Talk to your healthcare provider about the following:

  • Make dietary changes. Eat whole foods; buy organic. Remove all GMO, fast and processed foods and those with colors, artificial ingredients, preservatives, phenols, salicylates and inflammatory foods such as casein, gluten, soy. Strictly limit sugars, salt, and white refined carbohydrates. Join the Feingold Association Feingold.org to learn more.
  • Include plenty of good quality fats, such as coconut and olive oil, avocados, wild salmon, organic chicken and turkey, ghee, eggs, etc.
  • Heal the gut with GAPS, PALEO, or GF/CF diets, a good probiotic, Keifer non dairy yogurt, digestive enzymes with DPPIV for gluten and casein sensitivities, zinc picolinate, and coconut oil with MCT (medium chain triglycerides)
  • Clean up your environment. Remove animals (both live and stuffed!), carpets. Use non-toxic cleaners, building materials.
  • Ask your pediatrician to run some laboratory tests that give information about possible food sensitivities and allergies, Test for IgG,IgA,IgE and IgM. Other testing could show deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, bacterial overgrowth and gluten and casein sensitivities.
  • Use homeopathy specific for ear infections (apis mellifica, belladonna, pulsatilla), eyes (hepar sulphur) and throat (mercurius vivus or mercurius solubilis). Consider using Schueller’s cell tissue salts which can be effective as well.
  • Add fermented foods and probiotics daily to keep the gastrointestinal system healthy and strong which in turn will keep the immune system strong.
  • Use herbs and natural remedies such as garlic, warm olive oil, goldenseal, Echinacea, propolis, oregano oil, biocidin, berberine, manuka honey, thieves’ oil, stevia, zinc, Epsom salt baths, and colloidal silver.
  • Take Vitamin D3 and Vitamin C as a maintenance protocol and NAC – N’acetylcysteine treats and prevents upper respiratory infections for those prone to chronic infections.
  • See a local chiropractor. Chiropractic treatments can be very effective for clearing ear, throat, and respiratory infections.

If you have addressed these issues and are still dealing with ear, nose and throat infections:

  • Test OAT (Organic Acid Test) by Great Plains Laboratory for yeast overgrowth and Candida, oxalates, and other microbial infections
  • Craniosacral therapy can effectively treat upper respiratory symptoms by removing blocks, releasing compression and alleviating stress and pain.
  • Homeopathic or Naturopathic physicians can diagnose and treat the ears, eyes and nose symptoms naturally so that the child’s immune, sensory, neurological and nervous systems develop without being compromised.
  • Ionic foot baths can help detox unwanted pathogens and are easy to do with children
  • ozone (through the ears) can help effectively heal bacteria in upper respiratory infections.

Still looking for answers:

Visit the Epidemic Answers Provider Directory to find a practitioner near you.

For further resources:

Frieri M. Asthma linked with rhinosinusitis: An extensive review. Allergy Rhinol (Providence). 2014;5(1):41-9 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24684837

Nsouli TM. The role of food allergy in serious otitis media. Ann Allergy 1991; 66:91  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8092554

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Schmidt, Michael.  Healing Childhood Ear Infections.  1996 https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Childhood-Ear-Infections-Alternative/dp/155643216X