Food allergy/Ear infections

My daughter is 8 1/2 months old. I am wondering if she may have a food allergy. I first though of this after reading extensively about middle ear infections. In her 8 1/2 months of life, she has had 9 ear infections beginning at 6 weeks old. In addition, she has dark purple rings under her eyes, is frequently congested, gets a flushed face (especially around her eyes and nose) and spits up about an ounce of formula after every feeding. She does not, however, have frequent diarrhea or actual vomiting. Any ideas what could be causing these symptoms?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Wendy,

It is very possible that the ear infections are being caused by an allergy. Much recent research is showing that allergies can be the culprit in middle ear infections. This is because food allergies can cause nasal congestion and also congestion in the eustachian tubes that connect the nose and ear. This allows fluid to collect in the middle ear which can lead to infections. Most pediatricians treat ear infections with antibiotics or drainage tubes, which doesn't get to the cause of the problem.

If other treatments have failed with your daughter, then talk to your pediatrician about allergy testing. It may be as simple as eliminating milk from her diet for a short period to see if the problem abates. My guess is if it is an allergy, it is an allergy to milk because she has been experiencing the problem from 6 weeks, when milk was her only food. Milk and wheat are the most common foods causing the problem in children. The flushed face may be caused by the difficulty in breathing she experiences from the congestion as she tries to drink from a bottle. The spitting up may be caused by the drainage of mucous into her stomach as a result of the allergy.

Eliminating milk from a child's diet should be done very carefully to be sure that the calcium, vitamins and protein that they get from the milk is found in an appropriate replacement food. If you should find that milk was the cause of your daughter's problem, than you will have to be sure to include foods like calcium fortified soy milk, tofu, canned salmon, dark green leafy vegetables, and eggs in her daily menu.

You may have already done some web searching and come across the great resource for food allergies: www.foodallergy.org (The Food Allergy Network). They can provide you with great literature, recipes, and important information on how to deal with food allergies.

Thank you for writing.

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