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  • Stephen Macallan

The commonalities of Ear-ache

These few thoughts are drawn entirely from experience with patients. Ear-ache seems to be a surprisingly common problem, in adults it is usually low grade, self-limiting and not regarded as much of a problem. Pain-killers and patience has been the usual treatment. For some people it is more serious, escalating to serious pain and trips to the doctor, which almost invariably results in antibiotics, usually systemic, occasionally topical, sometimes followed up with a syringe wash-out, which can then progress to an annual dose of Earex or similar and another syringe wash-out.

In children the problem is taken more seriously, partly because a scare has been put about that untreated ear infections can lead to menigitis, and partly because parents are unhappy that their child is in pain and want it resolved quickly. A trip to the doctor results in antibiotics, and if the problem escalates into glue ear the usual treatment is surgical implantation of grommets to drain the pus. One of the complicating factors in children is the fact the immature skull has a more radically angled eustachian tube, which impairs natural drainage a tad.

I have an impression that regular bouts of ear-ache/ear infections tends to lead to an impairment of hearing in later years, whether this is a consequence of the problem or a consequence of the treatment (antibiotics, grommets, earex etc, syringeing) I know not.

What causes earache? Too much gunge, I love that word... gunge.. so expressive, too much gunge where there should only be a little. Gunge can be either side of the eardrum, too much gunge inside the eardrum, especially if it gets infected can result in a perforated eardrum, so this problem can not be taken lightly and must be resolved. Gunge outside the ear drum is less serious but still cannot be ignored.

The ear is a very delicate organ, the canal is lined with little hairs and it produces a modest amount of gunge naturally, these two things serve in part as a protective measure, protecting the ear from irritants. But too many irritants results in increased production of gunge, hence fingers, q-tips, matchsticks, hair-clips etc are all a bad idea, and so are syringe washouts. Earex and other natural oils are okay, but nothing else.

Where does this excessive wax come from? Firstly there are external irritantants as above, but there are also internal irritants, and these are because of the connection between the ENT area and the digestive system. Eating or drinking those things to which a person is allergic and/or eating/drinking mucus-producing substances combined with insufficient water intake leads to too much gunge in the ears and possibly in the sinuses as well.

There are several ways of dealing with an earache:

1. Topical applicarion of a few drops of Oil of Mullein with Oil of Garlic, will bring instant relief from the pain in all but the most severe of cases. Continued application will also clear any infection. Oil of Mullein alone works well but clears the infection slightly less quickly, and Oil of Garlic clears the infection but doesn't relieve the pain very quickly. Any herbalist should be able to supply these oils.

2. Generous doses of Echinacea, Astragalus, or other immune boosting herb taken systemically, a warm compress to the ear and a few drops of olive oil topically. Add a few drops of garlic juice to a few drops of olive oil (50/50 mix) for extra effect.

3. Fasting on fruit and vegetable juices and water is a great way of boosting the immune sytem to help deal with an ear infection oir indeed any infection.

4. Acupuncture has not been particularly effective in my experience.

HOWEVER, bearing in mind the too much gunge issue, further action to consider is as follows:

1. The mucus-producing foods par excellence are, dairy produce, sugar, wheat, peanuts and bananas. So if these foods are in the diet, then reduce or eliminate temporarily their intake, whilst recovering from a bout of earache and longterm in order to avoid further episodes.

2. Have an allergy test, any food to which a person is allergic often results in the production of mucus, if consumed.

3. Increase intake of fruits and veggies to WHO recommendation of 10 servings daily, and increase intake of water to 2 litres daily. Adjust these amounts pro rate for size for children. This will give a body its full complement of nutrients and enable optimum regulation of mucus levels.

4. Consider the mucusless diet for a while - consult a good natural healing practitioner for guidance on this.

5. Ensure that there are at least 2 bowel motions daily to eliminate toxin build-up which can be a cause of too much mucus.

6. If the sufferer is a breast-feeding infant then mum should pay attention to 1 and 2 above. Mum should be dairy-free anyway, according to DoH guidelines stating that infants should not be given cows milk or cows milk products until they are twelve months old.

7. Last, but not least and maybe should be first, consult your practitioner. But whatever you do, do not allow the problem to deteriorate indefinately, there is a small but real risk of complications.


Ear Anatomy

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