Ear infections (aka otitis media, acute otitis media, or AOM for short) can be common in children – and when they become chronic it affects the whole family. By the age of three, it’s reported that 71% of children have had one or more ear infection – and 33% of these children have had three or more episodes. An ear infection is the most common reason why children under six are prescribed antibiotics.
In young children, the anatomy of the Eustachian tube (the small canal that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat) increases ear infection risk: it is shorter, narrower and does not drain as readily as in older children and adults.
However, for some children, dietary irritants may also contribute to repeat ear infections by causing swelling of the nasal passages and Eustachian tubes, blocking the tubes, and trapping germs.
Who is at Risk for Recurrent Ear Infections?
Ear infections tend to be more common in children with eczema, asthma, and hayfever, conditions that have been linked to food allergy or sensitivity. Specific foods, such as cow milk, egg, soy and wheat have been reported as triggers.
Identifying and removing of a potential food trigger, such as cow milk, from the maternal diet (if the baby is breastfed), and/or changing formula is considered an important first-line therapy.
Addressing the Root Cause of Recurrent Ear Infections
There are many factors that may increase the risk of developing recurrent ear infections. If you suspect that your child’s symptoms stem from food sensitivity, trading out a common dietary irritant to stop the inflammatory cascade, such as cow milk, for an easier digest option, such as goat milk, may reduce ear infection risk. It’s a small change that can make a big difference for the whole family.