Oweee! Junior’s tugging on his ear while mastering some amazing high-pitched shrills… No one can sleep, and frustration and exhaustion wrestle with throbbing pain for the top bill in the earache show.
While there’s no denying that ear infections can be particularly challenging for both kids and parents, most of these infections are not dangerous, and usually resolve on their own within a week.
Nevertheless, parents want some solutions, and fast. Here’s what to know and do for ouchy ears, as well as treating ear infections without antibiotics…
Basic Facts About Ear Infections
1 – Earaches can indicate an infection of the external ear canal (swimmer’s ear) or the middle ear, the kind that accompanies colds.
2 – Middle ear infections are more common in children because the Eustachian tube is much shorter in kids than in adults and more likely to get clogged. When healthy, the Eustachian tube’s job is to adjust the pressure in the middle ear and drain fluid from it.
3 – Because the Eustachian tube is short, un-drained fluid can easily travel along it into the middle ear where it collects, producing a sticky substance that prevents the eardrum and middle ear bones from vibrating freely. This may reduce hearing quality until the condition is resolved.
4 – Ear infections can cause mild or severe pain, or there may be no pain at all.
In babies, symptoms often only include fussiness and night waking, runny nose, or fever.
5 – Ear pain tends to worsen at night while lying down.
Most pediatricians will automatically prescribe antibiotics when they see a red ear. A few things to consider before filling that prescription:
- Fifty percent of ear infections are caused by viruses, and antibiotics will do nothing for these.
- There is no way to determine whether a virus or bacteria is causing the infection, and bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics if they are overused.
- Antibiotics have a tendency to weaken the immune system and cause recurrent ear infections.
- Natural treatments and immune system support can relieve pain and effectively solve the ear infection.
Simple Measures for Ear Infections
- Raise the head of the bed or crib to help the tubes drain naturally. Kids complain of ear pain less during the day because they’re upright and distracted and the tubes are draining freely. When they are horizontal at night, the tubes fill, causing pain.
- Offer Fluids. The very action of swallowing helps the tubes to open and drain, and fluids will help fight an infection.
- Sleep is important for the body to recover from any condition. If necessary, use Ibuprofen sparingly and only night or naps so that your child can get the rest she needs.
Choose Natural Treatment for Ear Infections
I’ve talked lots about the benefit of probiotics to restore the natural, healthy flora of bacteria to the digestive system. What does a healthy gut have to do with an earache? Healthy gut=healthy immune system, and a kid with a strong immune system will most likely not suffer from recurring ear infections.
Mullien and Allicin Oils: Mullien, is a plant commonly found on roadsides; The oil is anti-inflammatory. Allicin, one of the active compounds in garlic, works as a anti-microbal and also reduces inflammation. Buy individually or in a combined formula to drop directly into ears.
Echinacea stimulates the body to produce more white blood cells that fight invasion by viruses or bacteria. There are several great non-alcohol glycerin-based preparations for kids. Use for up to 5 days. For babies under one year give 10 drops three times per day, and for children over one year, 20 drops three times per day.
There are several popular multi-remedy homeopathic earache remedies that you can pick up at your local health food store. They are easy to administer (ie. Taste like candy), and can help to resolve ear pain quickly. Many classic homeopaths recommends individual remedies such as these:
Belladonna 30c In the first stage, especially if symptoms have come on quickly and there is fever. The child is usually tired.
Hepar-sulph. 30c The most effective remedy for ear infections, and the best choice for swimmer’s ear. Can be used for any ear ache, especially if the ear seems tender to touch and the child is fussy or irritable.
Pulsatilla. 30c For mild ear infections without severe pain, and for lingering symptoms with thickening nasal discharge. The child is often clingy.
Chinese herbs & acupuncture:
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are extremely effective in speeding the recovery from ear infections and preventing them from coming back by treating both the symptoms and the root cause of the condition. A classic formula called xiao chai hu tang can help support good digestive health while resolving the infection. Speak to your practitioner to discuss at treatment plan.
Prevent recurrent ear infections
- Stop dairy products (cow’s milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese). If you are breastfeeding, then stop dairy in your own diet. Cow’s milk proteins will travel through your breast milk.
- Use Colostrum, one capsule twice a day mixed with food such as applesauce. This is the first pre-milk substance that is secreted in mammals for a few days after birth. It contains immune system stimulants that prevent infections. Cow’s colostrum is freeze dried and packaged in capsules, which can be opened and mixed with food. Be to use choose organic.
- Take Chinese Herbs. Ask your acupuncturist to prescribe a formula to support your child’s general health and constitution so the ear infections don’t become a regular, bothersome event.
Danger signs… call your health provider if there is:
- Persistent high fever greater than 102° for more than 3 days or any fever in babies less than four months old
- Fluid draining from the ear (not orange colored wax which is normal)
- Illness that seems to last longer than a few days
- Extreme lethargy and/or unresponsiveness