What’s Behind the Ear Infection Epidemic in Children?

Frequent ear infections in infants and children are as common as colds that not only create great discomfort for the child, but may cause permanent hearing loss. They are often treated with round after round of antibiotics. Unfortunately, while this antidote seems to manage the problem, it often doesn’t seek to find the real cause behind the infection in the first place.

Many people do not know that ear infections are often caused by acid reflux. As refluxed liquid enters the upper throat, especially while lying down, it can inflame the adenoids causing them to swell. The swollen adenoids can block the passages from the sinuses and Eustachian tube and fluid can build in the sinuses and middle ear.

As acid reflux is also epidemic in our entire population–how can we connect the dots between both ear infections and this digestive disorder? How can we find what’s behind both of these problems and reach a true solution?

The first thing to understand is that acid reflux is most often the result of an abnormal overgrowth of Candida, or yeast, in the stomach, when the PH of the stomach is low. This causes digestion to slow down and foods to ferment. The Candida also attaches itself to the muscles of the esophageal sphincter causing them to become paralyzed. In reflux, the pressure of the fermentation gases push the acid up through the weakened esophageal sphincter muscles into the throat.

Today, acid reflux is so prevalent because people are no longer eating foods that support good digestion and healthy bacterial flora. Historically, people consumed a wealth of cultured and lacto-fermented drinks like kefir and yogurt from whole raw milk, beet kvass and kombucha, and cultured vegetables like homemade sauerkraut, pickled beets and Kimchee. These high-enzyme, probiotic foods kept yeast and other bacteria in check as well as helped to maintain proper stomach acidity and gut flora–all necessary for good digestion.

Gut flora is passed on to a child during its passage in birth through the birth canal. When the mother has poor gut flora, the child will inherit the same problem and suffer the health consequences of poor digestion and a tendency towards both acid reflux and frequent ear infections because of this deficiency. Therefore, through a familial inheritance, poor health is passed on to the next generation.

As Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut,” we can see that both ear infections and acid reflux and also many of our epidemic health problems must be coming from a lack of foods necessary to promote good digestion. We must return to eating the high-enzyme, probiotic rich foods that our ancestors ate and remove the difficult-to-digest modern breads, crackers, processed foods and sugar that can cause a Candida overgrowth. We can also benefit from adding nutrient-dense, old-fashioned foods like bone broth soups and meats, poultry, eggs and dairy from pastured animals as well as wild-caught fish in place of the foods that upset normal digestion.

Treating the symptoms of ear infections with antibiotics is like trying to bail the water from a sinking ship, one bucket at a time! When we work towards solving the reason behind our epidemics, we will insure the future of the health of generations to come.