Ear infections and food allergies in children: the surprising link

Ear Infections and Food Allergies In Small Children: A Surprising Link

By: Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N.

How many of you have dealt with ear infections? Whether this was you as a child, your own children, or someone you know, ear infections are one of the most common reasons for visiting the doctor.  There are different types of infections that can occur in both children and adults, however the Eustachian tube is shorter in small children and tends to block up more easily, thus making ear infections more common in the very young.

The Eustachian tube drains fluid from the middle ear to the back of the throat.  If there is a blockage anywhere in this tube, fluid backs up and creates an environment for bacterial and viral growth.  One way the Eustachian tube can get clogged is from food allergies. Consuming foods that we are allergic to can cause the body to produce excess mucus and inflammation.  This can result in irritation in the middle ear resulting in ear infections. Food allergies are common in children less than 3 years of age, which is why we introduce foods to babies one at a time.

The severity of allergic reactions varies across a broad spectrum, but even the slightest bit of irritation can wear the body down.  Research has shown that roughly 80% of children that get recurrent ear infections have food allergies.  The following foods commonly cause reactions:

– Peanuts
– Eggs
– Wheat
– Milk
– Fish
– Soy products

Classic signs and symptoms of an ear infection in young children are irritability, cough, runny nose and fever.  Note – rubbing the ears can sometimes indicate teething and not necessarily an ear infection.

What we eat, come into contact with and breathe affects us in more ways than the obvious. My own precious little girl, Ryen Ann, now two months old, was also having some difficulties with food allergies. Though she had been gaining weight like a champ and seemed full after meals, she was still spitting up more than my first child. Since I breastfeed exclusively, I began to evaluate my diet in relation to her actions and behavior and one common culprit kept coming up: food allergies.  So far, cutting various foods out of my diet has seemed to help her tremendously.

Bottom line: if your child has a history of ear infections, you may want to consider checking for food allergies, especially if there is a family history of sensitivity to certain foods.

If you want to find more ways to understand and connect with your child, join me Saturday May 18th from 1-2 pm at DEFINE: River Oaks as Jessica Pass and I discuss ways to bond with your baby through baby massage!


Lori_frontblogImageDEFINE’s senior instructor and anatomy specialist, Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N. is a doctor in chiropractic and registered nurse. Her love for helping people through education about anatomy and physiology drives her to continue to share her experiences and knowledge with others as they persue their journey towards health and restoration!

More of Lori’s Articles HERE.