Dr. Taz MD’s Weekly Q&A, December 16th, 2013

Q: My baby girl is 9 months and is overall healthy, except she was diagnosed with reflux and has been taking Prevacid since 2 months, and she keeps getting ear infections. She has just recovered from her 5th ear infection with help from antibiotics. She has taken antibiotics all 5 times, and of course she has had side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, fungus, etc. Our pediatrician sent us to see an ENT specialist but I am afraid that the only option for treatment will be going under general anesthesia to get tubes installed inside her ears. I would like to know if there is anything else we could do to treat and minimize this ear problem.

A: In Chinese medicine, frequent ear infections are the result of weak spleen qi or digestive energy. Although it sounds crazy, looking carefully at your child’s diet and gut function may be the keys to preventing future ear infections and the link to reflux. I would recommend a detailed food intolerance evaluation and assessment of gut function as a beginning step. Children, however, that have had more than 4-6 ear infections in a given year often need ear tubes due to the risks of delayed speech and language development.