Ear infections are very common in children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. It is estimated that more than 10 million children are treated for ear infections each year in the United States. While antibiotics should always be considered in acute life-threatening conditions, Chinese Medicine offers an alternative to frequent antibiotic use for chronic illness. For non life-threatening conditions trying Chinese herbs before resorting to antibiotics will help reduce the trend of antibiotic overuse and the development of resistant strains of bacteria. Many Chinese herbs have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties and others strengthen the immune function to fight infections. Your practitioner has micro-dose herbal preparations in easy to administer tinctures and teas for young children.
Digestion also plays a key role in the treatment of ear infections and chronic colds. Over feeding or eating hard to digest foods can lead to increased mucus production. This can cause body fluids and mucus to gather and stagnate in small areas like the ears and give bacteria an opportunity to gather and create an infection. Some helpful dietary suggestions are:
- It is best to reduce or eliminate sugar, excessive dairy products, chilled and frozen food and drinks, and raw vegetables from your child’s diet. Sugar causes a lot of phlegm production in adults and even more so in children.
- Dairy can be an important source of protein and vitamins but too much dairy will lead to mucus production, especially if your child is very young or unable to process dairy well.
- Cold foods are hard to digest because internally our temperature is hot- and enzymes to break down food need heat to perform.
- Raw vegetables are also inherently ‘cold’ and are hard to digest because of their high fiber content. Steaming or blanching veggies will ensure that your child is able to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables.
- Breastfeeding for at least one year has proven to reduce the number of ear infections in children due in part to the antibodies found in breast milk.
- Applying these simple diet principles at home will keep the child healthy after Chinese herbs and acupuncture are used to treat the underlying cause of the chronic infections.