Treating Adenoids in Children - Natural Approaches
I am usually a strong advocate of using natural health methods in conjunction with traditional medicine, but what happened recently gave me a shiver down the spine. It seems impossible to me that in this day and age an attitude of contempt towards the wisdom of the body should exist, but there you go. This is what happened.
Most parents face in their life deep joys and some worries: there is nothing more upsetting for a parent than discovering that there might be something wrong with their child’s health, especially if the child looks generally happy and full of energy.
This was a nightmare: not only did my daughter have enlarged adenoids, I was faced with a medical report by an ENT surgeon, who recommended surgery.
My point was, ok, she had enlarged adenoids, but my daughter didn’t suffer from otitis, sinusitis, could breathe through her nose, and her sleep was not disturbed although she sometimes snored: why apply surgery in a case like this? Isn’t surgery the very last resort for extreme cases, where the child has a runny nose and repeated infections? Apparently not.
I opened the ENT medical report which had been sent to me, jumping form one word to the other.
There was no mention of her having suffered from eczema, nor the fact that she had just had a cold. I hadn’t taken my daughter to this particular ENT surgeon so I wasn’t sure of what information he had been given.
I could not be angry with the surgeon, but I was a bit surprised that he had not picked up on the fact that I suffered from allergic asthma, which he had been told apparently. Common sense says that it is likely that there might be an allergic cause, which could be hereditary of course: the latter being nearly certain, given that my daughter had suffered from eczema.
Furthermore, the ‘heavy snoring’ in the report consisted of some snoring especially in the Winter months and near the hay fever season. She snored as soon as she fell asleep, but the snoring normalized itself during the course of the night.
In no way was her sleep disturbed, and she was a very lively, happy and thriving child in every sense. I simply could not understand how one would want to apply surgery in a case like this, but then I was reminded of what happened to me as a child.
I myself suffered an entirely allopathic childhood where there was no room for healing herbs and alternative methods, with the result that my tonsils and adenoids were removed and I consequently suffered from severe allergic asthma until I was 16, when my mother took me, in desperation, to a ‘witch doctor’, “to see if at least this works.”
The ‘witch doctor’ was an internationally renowned Homeopath, who promptly threw my mother out of the consultation room (she was answering all the questions for me), asked me some very weird things indeed (Do you prefer hot or cold? Do you prefer sweet or sour? Etc.), and armed me with three remedies to take three times a day. This proved my salvation: six months later my asthma had gone completely, albeit leaving a really bad eruption on my skin, which went away in time.
Now the spectre of my lost childhood was confronting me again. I read the report again: it was late at night and to reassure myself I put on some water for herbal tea: I wanted to cry. Why was this happening to me?
My several years as a Therapist and Healer have taught me that there is always a logical explanation.
So I sprung into action. My first concern was to ascertain what was the cause of the enlarged adenoids. To me, as there were no other symptoms or anomalies, the enlarged adenoids were simply signalling a problem that was occurring somewhere else. Removing the adenoids without addressing the cause would simply shift the problem somewhere else, possibly causing symptoms such as infections or asthma. Given that Natalie has suffered from eczema my first stop was allergy testing (Eczema: please see Positive Health Nov 2007, My Fight Against Eczema). I also tested her brother, Thomas, for good measure. Not surprisingly, both children had a high number of intolerances and a few severe ones, mainly environmental (dust, cat, dog and hamster hair, grass, various types of pollen) but also gluten and milk.
I then involved my GP who visited Natalie and reassuringly, given the very mild symptoms and her general good health, advised me not to take the route of adenoidectomy.
“From a glandular point of view she is totally fine,” the GP said, while testing the areas under the jaw and behind the ears. “So if all that is happening is that she snores occasionally, well, just leave it.” She went on to explain that adenoidectomy is in fact quite intrusive and there might also be post-operative problems in the sinus area.
I discovered that there is also some exhaustive literature on the subject, and all at ‘fingertip’s length’: the internet has a wealth of medical sites that address adenoids and tonsils, and although of course each specific case would need to be considered individually, the information provided is simply invaluable for a parent.
I discovered, for example, that adenoids normally start shrinking at about the age of five to seven, and that the absolute indications for adenoidectomy are somehow severe, such as chronic otitis and sinusitis and recurring infections. Armed with this information I then contacted another ENT surgeon to seek a second opinion.
his is what really sends a shiver down my spine. My point about allergy was nearly dismissed as ‘mother’s anxieties’; the surgeon referred to the previous medical report and stated that he agreed that removing was the best way forward, in full knowledge that she is generally very healthy, there is no otitis and sinusitis, she has allergies and that the snoring started when we got a cat (coincidentally).
In fact, it seemed to me that he was not telling me anything new, and that he was giving me no solutions either, except removal, and all of this for a sum of money which could provide water for a small village in Africa.
While in the waiting room, which was dusty and needed new air, there was a baby with us who must have been between six to eight months old. I thought with sadness if this one was also a prime candidate for surgery, according to the very qualified doctor.
As my research continued, I noticed that although there was quite a lot of factual information available, amazingly there was very little literature on how to address such a common problem (enlarged adenoids) with alternative medicine.
The Alternative Route
I am fortunate that I have worked in the complementary field, so I started asking a few colleagues, what in their opinion, could help, and it came down to Naturopathy and Homeopathy. I promptly booked a Homeopath in my local area for a first opinion and consulted various homeopathy books.
The local Homeopath advised Pulsatilla for common cold and China as a remedy for Natalie’s constitution.
I read that Calc. Phos. is generally used for enlarged adenoids; however, you have to be very careful with administering homeopathic remedies as they are very powerful and very individual. The Homeopath told me that Calc. Phos. was too strong for Natalie, who is very sensitive.
Although helpful, I wasn’t too convinced with the local Homeopath’s diagnosis, and this goes to show that you always have to be careful anyway: she didn’t have expertise in adenoids and she should have told me. Before starting any course, I did some more research and finally contacted the Hale Clinic and was directed to Dr Gruenwald, who has treated enlarged adenoids before.
A GP of Anthroposophic Medicine and Homeopathy, he has about 20 years experience in the field. I really liked the sound of mixing Allopathic medicine, Anthroposophy and Homeopathy, and ended up booking a 9am in two weeks (first appointment available!).
He prescribed two different remedies to strengthen my daughter’s system in preparation for Calc. Phos, which he actually believed was the appropriate remedy, but to be taken at a later date.
I only have one thing to say that sums it all. After only 15 days of taking the remedies my daughter wasn’t snoring any more at all. I am very confident that her problem will be history by the end of the year.
One side-effect I have noticed to the medicine prescribed is that since starting the course Natalie has become more confident. I don’t know if this is due to other factors, but I have definitely noticed a positive shift in her personality, in the fact that she seems to have become more able to cope with her sensitivity, and is also more gung-ho, if it makes sense.
One of the pillars of Anthroposophy is that the human being is a holistic being, where the psyche and the body are basically interconnected, which to me makes perfect sense, so a change in physical health will have an effect on the psyche too.
I do understand why some mainstream doctors rubbish Homeopathy incessantly: it is so simple and effective that it has become the biggest threat to people who have lines and lines of titles after their names and think they can play God with the human body, at pleasure, and charging about £200.00 for a 20-minutes visit.
What sadly is very clear to me, is the fact that you need to be very alert as an individual to safeguard your health, as it seems very easy indeed to obtain surgery. In fact, you nearly feel like you have to justify yourself if you don’t believe in surgery as the first port of call.
But is it really surprising, with a thriving cosmetic surgery industry in place, where you can have new breasts/liposuction/tummy tucks/ nose jobs, no questions asked, if you have the hard cash?
I find this mentality totally wrong.
I am satisfied that in my daughter’s case natural medicine was the best course of action, as she is not an extreme case, but I do accept that surgery is a very good thing if not applied lightly, and possibly the solution in cases where the individual is affected severely.
It is also true that not all ENT specialists work on the basis I described above, as I am certain that there are quite a few out there who have a more holistic approach: the one I contacted was quite clearly ‘old school’. Still, it is quite disturbing.
In extreme cases, it is arguable though if any other action should have been taken before things become so extreme, and that’s where the allopathic approach fails in my opinion: a few pills to relieve the symptoms don’t help, they actually make the symptoms worse over time, as the cause is not addressed.
One has to address primarily the root cause of the illness, and that is always found in an imbalance that might occur somewhere else in the body.
It seems so simple, but sadly it is still rocket science in certain quarters. I am, however, hopeful that the majority of people are waking up to the inner wisdom of their bodies.