Ear Infections (Otitis Media)

ear acheOnce a rare occurrence, frequent or chronic inflammation of the middle ear has come to be seen as a “normal” aspect of childhood in the United States. Generally, ear infections are treated with antibiotic drugs. Often, ear tubes are implanted. Some doctors recommend the removal of tonsils and adenoids. Other doctors (especially in countries outside the U.S.) are beginning to advise “watchful waiting” for the less severe ear infection to see if it will resolve itself without the use of antibiotics.

The Diet Connection

Based on feedback from families using the Feingold Program, children with behavior and learning problems appear to be very susceptible to ear infections. According to these families, removing the synthetic additives not only enabled their children to calm down and focus, but it also brought an end to chronic ear infections.

When children eat foods with synthetic chemicals, some of them experience a sensitivity reaction that includes tissue swelling. If the cells in the Eustachian tubes swell, they can close up and prevent fluid from draining out of the inner ear. This means that any liquid in there will be trapped in a warm, dark environment; bacteria in the fluid will increase and this can lead to an infection. Some doctors now believe that the medicine typically given to children with ear infections actually brings on the next episode. Of course, most of these medicines contain artificial colors and flavors!

There have been quite a few scientific studies connecting a change in diet with improvement of ear health.

History of antibiotics for ear Infections

Despite the concern of a growing number of doctors, antibiotics are still prescribed for millions of children.

In the mid 1980s, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh carried out a five-year study to compare the effectiveness of using a drug (amoxicillin) to treat otitis media versus no medicine. Half way through the trial, the team ran out of the $17.4 million in grants they had received from the National Institutes of Health. At the request of the lead researcher, Dr. Charles Bluestone, drug companies gave another $3.4 million. Then he changed the study’s original design, based upon the assumption that the drugs were proven to be effective. Later, Dr. Bluestone personally received $262,000 from the companies whose drugs he was testing. After this, the use of antibiotic prescriptions increased to become the routine treatment for otitis media.

Foul Play?

The co-investigator in the studies was a bio-medical engineer named Erdem Cantekin, who says that Bluestone manipulated the results of the study to favor the antibiotics. “It was a fraudulent study,” Cantekin believes, “This isn’t a question of scientific interpretation. They made certain changes to make the drugs look better.”

He believes that this research bears much of the blame for the overuse of antibiotics, which, in turn, has created “superbugs” that have made the original antibiotics less effective.

Other scientists believe the use of antibiotics for children has played an important part in the increase of autism, PDD (pervasive developmental disorders) and ADHD.

In his book, Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD, Dr. William Shaw explains how antibiotics wipe out beneficial bacteria, leadng to yeast overgrowth in the intestinal tract. The yeast produce abnormal by-products which are absorbed into the bloodstream and travel to the brain, altering behavior.

Go to studies on chronic ear infections