An All Too Common Scenario
It is midnight, and you are sleeping soundly. You hear a noise and recognize your child’s crying. Stumbling out of bed you make your way to your child’s room. You can tell the cry is “that kind of cry”-the kind that tells you that something is really wrong. You wonder what it could be until you notice that your child is pulling on his ears. Then you feel the dread of knowing that your child’s ear is hurting badly, and that usually means a doctor’s appt., an antibiotic and lots of pain for your child until the infection calms down.
But what if there was a way to help your child become well without resorting to antibiotics? Antibiotics can cause digestion problems, allergies, and set the stage for many serious problems-including reoccurring ear infections.
For many children there is a better way. Antibiotics do have their place-some children do need them. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics antibiotics should be prescribed if the child is age 6 months or younger, or if the acute otitus media (ear infection) seems to have severe symptoms. If the ear infection has less severe symptoms and the child is between 6 months and 12 years than simply waiting is an option. (Source) (I would suggest trying some natural remedies instead of just waiting!)
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that many ear infections go away on their own. Approximately 80 percent of children get better without antibiotics. In one 2000 study of 240 children under the age of 2 only 3% required an antibiotic after 4 days. 97% of the children healed on their own!
(If your child is under the age of 2, has a fever of 102F or higher or has fluid dripping from the ears a doctor’s visit is probably a very good idea. Double ear infections can be a sign that antibiotics are a good idea.)
What Is An Ear Infection Anyway?
An Ear Infection is caused by a bacteria or virus getting into the ear. Often a cold or flu comes on first and fluid has a chance to pool in the middle ear. If the fluids are not encouraged to drain and they become stagnant than bacteria has a chance to build up causing an ear infection. This is an infection of the middle ear (the most common type of ear infection). An infection that is on the outer ear is called swimmer’s ear and is less common.
Ear infections can also be from a virus, and it is often hard to diagnose if an ear infection has a viral component or if it is simply from a build up of bacteria.
How Are Ear Infections Diagnosed?
An ear infection is diagnosed with a medical history and by looking into the ear with an otoscope. The otoscope is a device that allows the doctor to see all the way into the canal and look at the eardrum. If the eardrum is red and swollen usually the doctor will diagnose an ear infection. However, simply having a red eardrum or a slightly bulging tympanic membrane doesn’t necessarily mean that your child has an ear infection. It can simply mean that the fluid is not draining well.
Standard medical treatment usually includes antibiotics. For some children, antibiotics don’t solve the problem and they continue to get ear infections.
What Can I Do To Help My Child Get Well?
There are the 4 things you can do to help your child recover quickly-
1. Encourage Your Child’s Ear to Drain Properly
2. Kill the Virus or Infection in the Ear Directly
3. Strengthen the Immune System so the Body Fights off the Infection
4. Avoid Conventional Pain Medications if Possible (Try other pain relief measures)
How to Encourage the Ear to Drain Properly
Manually “Massage” the Ear-Since stagnant fluid can cause ear infections, we want to encourage the fluid to move. Some chiropractors will teach you how to do this so that you will be able to encourage the ear to drain properly at home. See below for more on chiropractic care.
Elevate the Head of Your Child’s Bed-The ears can drain much better if your child’s head is elevated. I have done this by taking a couch pillow and placing it under the top part of the mattress. (This might not be good for the mattress though). You could also try placing blocks under the front legs of the bed being careful to make sure that the bed is steady. Also, pillows could be arranged to keep the child in a reclining position instead of a laying position. Make sure that the child is reclined and not getting a kink in their neck. This of course wouldn’t be safe for very small children or babies.
See a Chiropractor-Many children with ear infections are helped by seeing a chiropractor. Chiropractic adjustments are especially helpful to children with chronic ear infections. Many chiropractors can also teach you how to properly massage your child’s ear and lymph nodes. Then, you would be able to help your child’s ear drain properly by “massaging” the ear at home. I would make sure that the chiropractor is trained to work on children. Asking others for referrals is also helpful in determining how skilled a chiropractor is.
I will give you more information on how to treat ear infections naturally in Part 2 of this article! Stay tuned. 🙂
You may also be interested in this post on how to strengthen the immune system with food-Foods That Strengthen the Immune System-Protect Yourself from Sickness.
Update: Part 2 is ready! You can read part 2 at this link-Ear Infections Part 2-A Natural Remedy
Disclaimer: This post is not medical advice. You should consult your health practitioner before making changes in your diet or supplements. I am not a doctor or medical professional.
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