Can you think of anything more irritating than itching ears? We often take our ears for granted, but deafness is another aging issue we want to avoid. So let’s talk about our ears a bit. Common maladies are ear infections, ringing in the ears, wax buildup, and hearing loss. We’ll touch on each one.
Ear infections are common, but they seem to be even more common for children and there’s a reason for that. A child’s Eustachian tubes (the tubes that drain the ears into our waste disposal systems) don’t turn downward until about age 5. So what gravity does for adults often doesn’t happen to our youngest children. Without drainage, those fluids become breeding grounds for bacteria and virus causing infection. Many studies show that the longer a mother nurses her child, the less likely he will be to have ear infections, particularly if mom is using an anti-inflammatory while nursing. There are massage and manipulation techniques to help keep the Eustachian tubes open, and it is possible to help release the pressure in the lymphatic ducts with some simple arm rotations.
And, of course, simply taking some anti-inflammatory supplements like elderberry, fenugreek, thyme, and Echinacea may prove helpful. I always keep some homemade eardrops on hand to help with occasional ear aches. You can get the formula on our website. It contains common ingredients like olive oil, garlic oil, tea tree oil, mullein and a product called “CBG” which contains a combination of herbal extracts.
Kids don’t think much about playing their music at a body-jolting decibel level, and I’ve seen cars going down the road literally shaking from the loud radio and stereo speakers they contain. For me, it was flying military C-130s in Vietnam without wearing proper ear protection. Whatever the source, too much loud noise for an extended period of time damages the components of the inner ear causing a persistent ringing or other sound. The auditory nerve sends sound signals to the brain even when there is no sound. Some medications such as aspirin may increase the problem. And while there is no known “cure”, I have found that a homeopathic combination called “Ring Stop” helps some people cope with it. And it is noteworthy that some people see some success using an extract of the herb ginkgo biloba which directs more oxygen into the head.
Some people also produce more wax in their ears than others. Getting “stuff” like wax, dirt, or outdoor trash in the ears can also damage the tender tissues of the ears. When this happens I like to use what are called “ear candles” to remove the foreign matter. I have a friend in this business that says that scientifically this just cannot work, but I have dozens of clients and family members that testify to great relief from ear clogging with their use. Drop by the store and we’ll show them to you and you can pick up directions for their use and develop your own opinion. And also, trained professionals may use water sprays to remove the trash. Be sure they are trained as too much pressure in the ear may permanently damage fragile ear drums.
And finally, a word about hearing loss. As with all our body systems, prevention is the best medicine. Vitamins associated with better hearing are vitamin A to increase your resistance to infection, vitamin B reduces ear pressure, vitamin C helps prevent infection, and vitamin E increases circulation. Minerals include magnesium with prevents damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, potassium aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, and a deficiency of manganese has been linked to ear disorders. Other nutrients like N-acetylcysteine helps remove excess fluids from the ear canal, and Coenzyme Q10 is crucial to circulation to the ears.
If you notice some decrease in your hearing – or a family member tells you it’s obvious! – take action. Reduce your contact with loud noises. Use ear plugs and good, quality ear protection. And if necessary get some good hearing aids. Hear what’s happening around you!
- For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com.