A research review reported in the November 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. 2010;304:2161-2169) revealed that there is little consensus among doctors on how to diagnose and treat ear infections in children. Acute Otitis Media (a highly prevalent type of ear infection) is the most common condition for which antibiotics are prescribed for US children. However, there is NO data available on the long term effects of antibiotic therapy in children! Further, there is a popular vaccine used, called PCV7, and the research shows that while it somewhat reduces the prevalence of one type of bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae, it INCREASES the prevalence of a major Flu virus, Haemophilus influenzae. Two of the most common causes of childhood ear infections that we diagnose and treat at our medical practice are food allergies and low levels of nutrients that are essential for healthy immune function. A blood test done and interpreted correctly will reveal immediate and delayed food allergies and nutrient deficiencies related to immune function. If you or your child have a history of long term antibiotic use, it also becomes critical to supplement with a high quality probiotic, at one to two capsules per day. In conversation with a wise woman in the desert last week, we contemplated the value of common sense in the practice of medicine. It makes sense that diet and nutrition play an important role in how well a child’s immune system will function. If you start there, the need for antibiotic therapy diminishes. In health, -Dr. G
Food allergies are on the rise in the US, and are highly prevalent in children. The most common allergies that I see in my practice are delayed food hypersensitivity reactions which means that you could eat a suspect food one day and not experience symptoms from that food for 48 hours. Eggs, pasteurized cow’s milk products (e.g. pasteurized cheese, yogurt, milk derived from cows) wheat, and shellfish are among the most common foods that cause reactions in the body. These food allergies can cause or aggravate asthma symptoms, susceptibility to colds and the flu, mood disorders including depression, anxiety, and Attention Deficit Disorder, and chronic conditions including Autism Spectrum Disorder, arthritis, joint pain, chronic fatigue syndrome and eczema.
There are several ways to determine if you have a food allergy. The first way is a little complicated but involves an elimination diet where you remove all traces of the most common food allergens from your diet. Then, over time, you reintroduce one of those foods at a time and note if you experience symptoms. I highly recommend working with a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor if you are interested in treating yourself or your child for food allergies.
I test the blood for food allergies and find that this is an accurate, more specific, and simpler way to know what foods to avoid.
So why are food allergies on the rise? One reason is that we are living in a more sterile environment then ever before. The overuse of disinfectants, the overuse of antibiotics when they are not really necessary, and the tendency to work and study indoors in rather sterile environments where there is limited exposure to sunlight (a natural disinfectant) are some of the reasons why children’s immune systems are not up to par. Food allergies tend to be caused by an imbalance in immune function.
Some natural ways to balance out immune function are to get tested for food allergies and avoid them for 3-6 months, get your blood tested for vitamin A and vitamin D3 and supplement these nutrients if necessary, and take a high quality probiotic on a regular basis to keep the healthy bacteria present in your gut. Other options to consider that I often use in practice to boost immune function include Oregacillin, Allimed, and Berry Well Immune Support. I also like the Candida Cleanse Pack which treats candida but also serves as a powerful immune supportive protocol, and for optimal foundational support for our children I recommend the Children’s Foundation Pack.
There is a lot more talk out there these days about the dangers of gluten. Some people have full blown celiac disease, where their body can be severely damaged by ingesting gluten. Others have a mild, moderate or severe intolerance to gluten and gliadin in their diet. At LTP Natural Medical Center I test patients for gluten intolerance through an IgG blood test that looks for specific foods that the body mounts an immune response to. When those foods are eliminated from the diet, patients feel better. And gluten is often on the list. So while some skeptics will say that gluten-free is just a fad, I do not agree. This is a very real condition, even for patients not diagnosed with celiac disease. Going deeper, however, I find that if we focus on testing for, and repairing the integrity of the digestive tract, these food intolerance’s fall away. So if we want to go to the root cause, I would say compromised digestion is the place to look.