Ear Infections and Acid Reflux–What is the relationship?

Ear infections have become a common ailment in children. A child who suffers from frequent ear infections is at risk for permanent hearing loss. Although the most widely used treatment for ear infections is antibiotics, is this approach really addressing the underlying cause and are there long-term risks of not looking at the real health issue? When a society sees a common health problem and the answer is a medication, one must ask, “Is there is a great danger in following this path?”

What could possibly be an underlying reason for a mass epidemic in ear infections in children? What many people do not realize is that acid reflux is often present in a child with ear infections. As refluxed liquid enters the upper throat and inflames the adenoids, it causes them to swell. The swollen adenoids can block the passages of the sinuses and Eustation tube and fluid can build in the sinuses and middle ear. Acid reflux affects 1 in 5 people in our country. Therefore, looking at the acid reflux problem closely will not only help these children heal permanently, but also help to understand what our society as a whole faces to prevent this and other health epidemics that are related to poor digestion from continuing to escalate.

Acid reflux is caused from poor digestion. Hippocrates said that, “All diseases begin in the gut.” So treating ear infections with antibiotics is not only an incorrect long-term healing approach, it does not address the underlying problem of poor digestion and can be just one more element that puts a person at risk for other serious diseases.

The acid reflux epidemic in children is most often a direct outgrowth of a familial inheritance of poor gut flora when the child is born. When a child passes through the birth canal, it should acquire a healthy dose of gut flora from the mother. However, if the mother’s digestive health is poor or the child is born by a cesarean section, it’s gut flora, a first line of defense for illness, may be greatly compromised. If the child is breast-fed, this can help establish good intestinal flora for digestion, but only if the mother also has this asset.

Acid reflux and its related symptom, ear infections, have become epidemic since the drastic change to our food supply in the 1950s, where people began eating hard-to-digest foods that were very low in nutrient-density and stopped eating traditional probiotic cultured foods. This has caused a society laden with digestive problems. Hard-to-digest, low-nutrient foods slow down digestion and can promote the proliferation of a candida overgrowth in the stomach and intestinal tract. The gases from the fermentation of food create the acid  reflux conditions that can cause ear infections.

The solution for permanent healing is to return to the types of foods that supported healthy digestion and optimal health in our ancestors. These foods are the nutrient-dense meats, poultry, dairy and eggs from pastured animals and the wide array of cultured and fermented foods that used to grace our tables and provide the body with the building blocks of optimal health. Cultured foods like raw milk kefir, yogurt, homemade sauerkraut, pickled beets and beet kvass were a part of the everyday meals of people worldwide for thousands of years. They insure the proper gut flora that is absolutely necessary for good digestion.  By approaching ear infections from the much broader perspective of poor digestion and changes to our food supply, we have the tools to improve our own health and help future generations to free themselves of the far-reaching effects of a profit-based industrial food supply.

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

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