Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Protecting Your Child's Hearing

Did you know that "Sixty to 80% of children with Down syndrome have hearing deficits" (Pueschel)?? I was aware of this fact early on and took very important and strategic steps to insure that Jett would be able to hear so that he would be able to learn and speak better. It paid off. Although fluid was detected in Jett's ears very early, once I started proper treatment, his fluid cleared up and he has never had an ear infection. He's now almost five years old! Diet changes, lymph massage, diligently (mercilessly) keeping nasal passages clear and a specific herbal tea worked.

How does hearing effect learning?
According to Jett's Neurodevelopmentalist, Kay Ness, ear infections in the first two years of life are a major cause of learning problems down the road. Hearing a wide variety of sounds is important to establishing the auditory pathways to the brain. Fluid in the middle ear distorts sounds and causes auditory pathways to be laid down in an inconsistent fashion. This distortion can occur because of injury to the auditory pathways to the brain (or any part of the hearing system) or simply because of constant and chronic ear infections.

If your child's ears are clear, Kay explains, exposure to a wide range of high quality information and sounds will help develop superior auditory function. Ear infections interfere with the development of good balance and can also put pressure on the visual system and cause tracking and convergence problems.

How can you detect fluid issues?

Frequent tympanograms should be done to ensure that there is no fluid buildup in your child's ears. Be sure to get one every time you take your child to the pediatrician. Before I learned about the techniques below, the proper way to breast feed, and the necessary diet changes below, Jett had fluid in his ears. He's never had an ear infection so, I'm a believer!

All products mentioned can be found at the DS Day to Day amazon Store.

What I've been using to monitor Jett's ears

"My Ear Doc" also called "Ear Doc"is a specialized vibrator that you place behind the ear on the bone. Through bone conduction of the vibration, the Eustachian tube opens up for some people, clearing the middle ear of fluid.  For more info, go to the Ear Doc website. 
A word of caution, if you have any concern about seizures, such as a history of seizures, current seizure disorder, or if you are uncertain if seizures are happening sub-clinically, please do not use this powerful vibration unless specifically directed by your ND or your doctor. Vibration can trigger seizures for some people.
What I did to clear fluid from Jett's ears
I use Dr. Block's massage technique to keep Jett's ears clear of fluid. Dr Block's video, "Treat Ear and Respiratory Infection WITHOUT Antibiotics Using Osteopathic Principles, Practices and Gentle Massage," demonstrates gentle techniques based on a century-old philosophy of osteopathic medicine. Dr. Block developed the gentle massage treatment and she also taught her massage treatment to medical students when she was an associate professor at the medical school. 
This technique helps to drain ears and upper respiratory tract and boost the immune system without antibiotics. Dr. Block explains, in easy-to-understand terms, what you can do at home to treat and help prevent future infections. 
Here are some videos that show lymph massage to help drain the fluid:

Lymph Drainage for the Ears from Louisville Massage Therapist at        Lymph Drainage For The Ears

Eustachian tube inner ear plugged      Eustachian Tube Inner Ear Plugged (Dr. Holmes)
How to Treat Any Ear Infection Without Antibiotics with Kim Goodman        How To Treat Any Ear Infection Without Antibiotics

Massage for Children With Earaches : Massaging a Child With an Earache: Forehead & Chin      Massage For Children with Earaches

Symptoms of an Ear Infection

According to Dr. Sears, here are the eight main symptoms of an ear infection that you should be watching out for.

Your child may have 2 or more of these symptoms:
  1. Cold symptoms – keep in mind that ear infections are almost always preceded by a cold. Often a clear runny nose will turn yellow or green before an ear infection sets in.
  2. Fussiness during the day or night
  3. Complaining of ear pain or hearing loss
  4. Night-waking more frequently
  5. Unwillingness to lie flat
  6. Fever – usually low grade (101º - 102º); may not have a fever.
  7. Sudden increase in fussiness during a cold
  8. Ear drainage – if you see blood or pus draining out of the ear, then it is probably an infection with a ruptured eardrum. DON'T WORRY! These almost always heal just fine, and once the eardrum ruptures the pain subsides.
Your child is unlikely to have an ear infection if s/he has:
1. No cold symptoms – if your child has some of the above symptoms but does not have a cold, an ear infection is less likely, unless your child has had an ear infection in the past without a cold.
2. Pulling at the ears or batting the ears in infants less than 1 year of age. Infants less than one are unable to precisely localize their ear pain. This means that they cannot tell that the pain is coming from the ear or from structures near the ear. Infants can pull on or bat at their ears for two other common reasons:

  • Teething – Baby thinks the pain from sore gums is coming from the ears
  • Because they like playing with their ears – Infants are fascinated with these strange appendages that are sticking out of the side of their head. They love to explore them, play with them, and especially to stick their finger into that strange hole in the middle.
3. No complaints of ear pain in a child who is old enough to tell you, usually by age two or three.
Important: Allergies & Dietary Solutions

90% of ear fluid is caused from allergies. So watch out for food allergies especially to milk and gluten, which is common with kids with Down syndrome. Consider eliminating them from their diet, especially during these critical developmental years. See for support in going gluten and or casein free. (Also email me for recipes.)

How do ear infections occur?

Anatomy lesson. The ear is divided into three parts: the outer ear canal, the middle ear space where infections occur, and the inner ear where the nerves and balance center are. A thin, membranous eardrum divides the outer and middle ear. The middle ear space is also connected to the back of the nose via the Eustachian tube.

Immature Eustachian tube. In infants and young children this tube is much shorter and is angled. It is therefore much easier for bacteria to migrate from the nose and throat up into the middle ear space. As the child grows this tube becomes more vertical, so germs have to travel "up hill" to reach the middle ear. This is one-reason children "outgrow" ear infections.

Colds. When your child has a cold, the nasal passages get swollen and mucus collects in the back of the nose. This environment is a breeding ground for the bacteria that normally live in the nose and throat to begin to overgrow. Mucus is also secreted within the middle ear space just as it is in the sinuses.

Bacterial invasion. Germs migrate up through the Eustachian tube and into the middle ear space where they multiply within the mucus that is stuck there. Pus begins to form and soon the middle ear space is filled with bacteria, pus and thick mucus. 
Ear pain. This pus causes the eardrum to bulge causing pain. It is this red, bulging pus-colored eardrum that the doctor can see by looking into the ear canal. 
Diminished hearing. The discharge that collects in the middle presses on the eardrum preventing it from vibrating normally. This is what the doctor means by "fluid in the middle ear." Also the fluid plugs the eustachian tube and dampens the sound like the sensation in your ears during air travel.

Keeping Nasal Passages Clear

Another thing I used is AIR tea, it's a Traditional Chinese Medicine concentrated herbal tea blend that cleared Jett's congestion. It takes a couple of months to fully clear everything and he took it twice a day from age 5-12 months old. It tastes great! My pediatrician recommended it. You take it before you get sick.

I used to be up a lot in the night with the nose drops and "mucus suckers" but not at all anymore. I just clean out his nose quickly with a swab in the morning and give him saline nose drops twice a day. Before, Jett was completely congested, up in his sinuses where I couldn't get to it. Now, I can feel the air coming from his nose which I couldn't do before. Jett has never had a cold or sinus infection. I give him 1/5 teaspoon (1 ml) in the morning and before bed with 2ml of water. He loves it!

It's blended by hand in small, organic batches.

You can get this from your local Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM practitioner ($45-65) or amazon ($16). The website is

A I R (Allergy Immune Respiratory) Tea

Formerly (Zhi Sou Bu Zheng Qi Tang)

Stop Cough & Immuno-Support Decoction

Organic Ingredients:

Glycerin (Plant Source), 生薑Sheng Jiang (Fresh Ginger), 桔梗Jie Geng (Platycodon), 車
前子Che Qian Zi (Plantago Seed), 厚朴Hou Po (Magnolia Bark), 補骨脂Bu Gu Zhi
(Psoralea Fruit), 沙參Bei Sha Shen (Glehnia Root), 蒼耳子Cang Er Zi (Xanthium Fruit),
白芷Bai Zhi (Dahurien Angelica), 辛夷花Xin Yi Hua (Magnolia Flower), Distilled Water

Category: Formulas That Regulates Qi and Stops Cough

Traditional Chinese Medicine -- Western equivalent:
Allow Lungs to grasp Qi -- Anti- histamine
Nourishes production of Yin &Yang -- Anti- spasmodic
Resolve Phlegm -- Anti-emetic
Transform Phlegm -- Anti-inflammatory
Eliminate Phlegm -- Functions like Anti-biotic
Open the Nose -- Functions like Anti-viral
Rectifies the Qi -- Stomachic Expectorant

 All types of Asthma
 All types Cough
 Rhinitis
 Sinusitis (including sinus infection)
 Seasonal Allergies (itchy, watery eyes, itchy nose, etc.)
 Certain types of Uticaria (Differential Diagnosis Required)

This formula is designed to eliminate any upper-respiratory and/or sinus conditions. The
formula was originally designed several years ago at the request of a local Holistic
Pediatrician who was looking for something to stop coughs and clear infections that also
tasted good.

I just use saline nose drops, non medicated. I recommend Nose Frida to get the mucous out. Gross concept but it works best. Once the AIR tea gets going and releases all the mucous that's backed up, you won't need to use it everyday any more. (I don't have to use at all now.)

I can't say Jett likes it at all. But when I did use it, I told him what I was doing every time and told him when I was stopping, etc. He seemed to understand that it was a necessary evil. (The battery powered ones didn't work at all for us. He found them kind of relaxing though. He'd even hold it without batting it away.)

Another one that's recommended is The Baby Vac.
And if you just google baby vac, there are some YouTube videos of babies using it on themselves. Be sure to put saline solution in his nose every time before you use this. I understand that it works great for getting the stuff way in the back of the nose that would be difficult to get out with the Nose Frida.


Kay Ness, Neurodevelopmentalist
Dr. Sears
Kris Benson, Mom
Pueschel, Siegfried M., March 1992. I. Published on The Arc website <>.

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1 comment:

Mereya Johnson said...

I just came across this post when looking up natural ways to help our 2 year old with Down Syndrome kiddo with ear fluid...great suggestions thanks! I can't wait to look at the rest of your blogs.