3 Ways to Tackle Ear Infections Naturally
Well, we are in the full swing of cold and flu season! I wanted to bring up a controversial subject. Ear infections and how we tackle them. Ear aches are the #1 reason for visits to the pediatrician’s office, and the most common reason that antibiotics are prescribed. However, not all ear infections need antibiotics.
This could be a normal scenario you might experience: Your child gets a cold, then the runny nose and congestion arrive. A day or so later they wake up in the middle of the night tugging on their ear crying in pain. Most parents at this point would go ahead and make an appointment with their pediatrician and expect to get a 10-day prescription of amoxicillin. However, the latest guidelines suggest parents/patients focus on pain management and use what is called a “watch period” for 2-3 days to see if the ear infection goes away on its own. This is because most ear infections are caused by a viral infection. As with any virus it has to run its course and will resolve on its own.
Ear infections due to a virus and in some cases even a bacterial ear infection can go away on their own. Antibiotics will not help the ear infection just like an antibiotic will not help when you have a viral infection. Antibiotics are also not always necessary when you have a bacterial ear infection and other approaches can be taken before jumping to the antibiotic route. Antibiotics not only kill bad bacteria they also kill good bacteria. The overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant infections while also destroying ALL bacteria, good and bad, including that of the gut. Don’t get me wrong here! I am a firm believer in modern medicine! Modern medicine and holistic medicine have their places, however when there is a holistic approach to be taken, I believe it should be considered first in most cases.
Ok, so you’re saying “my child is in so much pain! I want to make it go away!” I’m a parent myself and I completely understand this! Our daughter has had 3 ear infections, the latest being a double ear infection, and we have not had to go in for antibiotics. I am not saying be complacent about ear infections! They can become very serious, and in some cases lead to hearing loss and other serious problems. I am actually saying the complete opposite of being complacent. Be very proactive and in this case reactive to the symptoms. So what kind of approach do we take when we think she has an ear infection? Confirmation, fever monitoring, garlic ear drops, chiropractic adjustments and D-Hist Jr.!
First and foremost, we get it looked at/I look at it because I can. Acute Otitis Media (AOM) is diagnosed by a sudden onset of symptoms with fluid in the middle ear and inflammation in the ear. Normally by the way she is acting my wife and I both know she has an ear infection, but I want to make sure there is no puss or anything alarming in her ear. Don’t just assume your child has AOM. You never know what could be in there or how serious it could be! Make an appointment with your chiropractor, naturopath, or pediatrician to confirm it is an ear infection.
I could and should write a whole blog post just on fever monitoring. Most fevers are not bad. They are a part of your body’s natural response to fight off infection! Letting a child’s fever run its course is important and can lessen the longevity of the illness. This takes a lot more time (monitoring) and effort than just giving your child Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I personally feel the benefits outweigh the risks, and allowing the body react naturally and fight infection is the best answer (read here for more information on fever). Am I completely against Ibuprofen? No! While monitoring a fever, if it’s too high, or your child is in too much pain YOU get to decide what is best for you and your child! If you are feeling like they need it, do it! How do we keep the pain down though without using Tylenol or Ibuprofen? Read on!
Garlic has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, immune boosting, and pain-relieving properties. We use both garlic ear drops and add an extra boost of garlic to our food when Eve, our daughter, has an ear infection. Garlic drops do not cure a viral infection (because again, viruses have to run their course), but will help keep the inflammation down and help with the pain accompanied by the ear infection. Most holistic ear drops have added lavender and calendula as well to help with inflammation and ear pain. You can get holistic ear drops from most grocery stores or if you are feeling crunchy you can make your own! Scratch Mommy has a great recipe and additional information for you on garlic and its medicinal properties.
You may be wondering; how can an adjustment help with ear infections? Or better yet, is it even safe for kids to be adjusted? The answer is, YES! The premise of the adjustment is to restore movement and function to the joint and thus remove interference on the nerves. So, how does this help with ear infections? The eustachian tubes are held open by two small muscles, tensor veli palatine and levator veli palatine, to assist in equalizing pressure. The innervation to these muscles comes from nerves that exit around the upper cervical vertebrae. So, to recap, when the first 2 vertebrae are restricted this can lead to decreased muscle tone due to lack of innervation and thus a collapse of the eustachian tube. This in turn, with an increase in mucus production due to a cold, creates a perfect breeding ground for a middle ear infection (Otitis media).
D-Hist Jr. (natural decongestant)
D-Hist Jr. was first prescribed to us from our family chiropractor back in Kansas City when Eve had her first cold/ear infection duo. It is a small chewable pill and is a staple in our medicine cabinet now! D-Hist Jr. says it is for “seasonal support” but can be used as a decongestant like we use it. It’s also best to have this prescribed to you by a doctor rather than ordering off of Amazon.
Here’s a quick overview of its benefits:
- Supports Immune Balance in Hypersensitive Individuals
- Supports Sinus and Respiratory Health
- Promotes Normal Viscosity of Mucus
- Clears Nasal Passages
Being a parent is hard! My hope through writing this is for us parents to take control of our children’s health. Not only their ear infections, but their overall health through holistic practices.
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
~ Thomas Edison
Do you have questions or do something different when your children have ear infections? Post a comment!