Once 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.
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.
In a Polish medical journal, researchers reported the following: The frequency of hospitalization of infants and children for otitis media [middle ear infection] at the Clinic of Childrens Diseases of the Medical University of Lodz decreased from 22.6% in 1975 to 4.2% hospitalized in 1995. Said the authors, "It was caused mainly by the change of a way of nutrition from artificial to natural..."
Wasowka-Krolikowska et al.
J. Pol Merkuriusz Lek, 1998 Dec
In a study published in Pediatrics in 1993, researchers followed over 1,000 infants for their first year and found that those who were breast fed for at least four months had a significantly lower rate of otitis media.
Duncan, B, et al, Pediatrics 1993 May