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Glue Ear

Can my daughter's Glue Ear be cured?

Question

My daughter, now 12, was diagnosed with glue ear at three, after a toddlerhood of delayed speech, lick of comprehension and deafness. Two grommets were inserted in her bad ear, but didn't deliver the promised miracles. The doctors say the eardrum has been perforated and scarred by the grommets. We have tried all kinds of diets and complementary therapies in our attempts to cure this constantly bunged-up ear. She is prone to sinus congestion and often can’t breathe through her mouth properly. I've refused another surgical procedure to stitch up the perforation. She is behind at school and is miserable. What is your advice?

Answer

To answer this, I need to explain the anatomy of the ear. It has three sections. The external ear consists of the tunnel of the ear lobe, which leads to the eardrum. The middle ear is a sac full of air, in which three small bones are suspended: these are attached to the eardrum on one side and the opening of the inner ear on the other. The middle ear sac is connected to the throat via the eustachian tube at the base. The inner ear is like a fat spiral tube filled with liquid, with numerous nerve endings on its surface.

Sound waves enter the ear tunnel and vibrate on the eardrum. These vibrations are magnified by the little bones in the middle ear, which pass them to the inner ear. So the sound waves outside the ear are converted to vibrations inside. These cause the liquid in the inner ear to vibrate, and the nerve endings to trigger electrical impulses. These then travel to the brain via the auditory (hearing) nerve, which 'interprets' the impulses as sound.

In order to hear properly, the eardrum has to be intact and flexible. If it is perforated and/or has scar tissue, as you mention, it can't vibrate with sound waves. Also the bones in the middle ear should be able to move and vibrate. For this to happen the bones must be suspended in the sac and the pressure here is very important. Think of what happens to your ears in an aeroplane. When the air pressure changes at take-off and landing, you need to 'pop’ your ears to get hearing back. If the middle sac is filled with fluid or pus due to infection, it, prevents the bones magnifying and transmitting vibrations. The infected fluid can also perforate the eardrum and come out as a smelly discharge. Thirdly, if there has been trauma or tumour affecting the nerve endings in the inner ear, hearing will be impaired.

I suspect that the reason the grommets were put in originally was due to a blocked Eustachian tube. The bacteria that thrive in the middle ear and cause infection are killed by oxygen. Usually air enters naturally through the Eustachian tube and dries up the infected fluid. Grommets are inserted to allow in air if the tube is blocked. Now it seems that neither the tube nor the grommets are functioning, plus your daughter has ended up with a weak immune system - thus her frequent ear infections.
We have to ensure that the perforation heals and the Eustachian tube is kept open so that the air sac in the middle ear is clear to conduct sound.

The following suggestions give nature one last chance. If they don't work, surgery is the best option:

    To boost the immune system

  • Make sure your daughter's diet is good and balanced. Use fresh, preferably organic, food, with no canned or preserved ingredients. Give her plenty of non-citrus fruit as snacks and fresh vegetables with every meal. Avoid yeast products and citrus fruits, because they slow the healing process.
  • Make a nourishing chicken stock and give her a cup to drink (warm) one hour before supper, three to four times a week. Joint a baby chicken (poussin), bash the bones with a hammer to release the nutrients and boil in a pot with ginger and garlic for about 90 minutes; strain and keep in the fridge.
  • Give her one teaspoon of Bioprash with New Zealand manuka honey after break fast, for two months, to help the body heal more quickly.
  • For the ear

  • Put one to two drops of mullein oil (available from homoeopathic pharmacies) in the affected ear each morning to help healing.
  • Put two drops of Sinus Oil in each nostril at bedtime and twice during the day. Let your child sniff it in, wait two minutes, then try to .pop' the ears by closing the nostrils and blowing air into the ears. If the tube is not permanently blocked, it should open within a few days.
  • Get your child to flatten the palm of her hand against the ear to close it tightly. Then pump air into the eardrum by repeatedly cupping, then flattening the palm again. This will massage the eardrum.
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