Ear Infection Remedies to Consider BEFORE Antibiotics
Posted Jan 25 2011 3:39pm
Dr. Mercola has a great article, “New Study Shows Antibiotics Have Little Impact on Child Ear Infections” that discusses the overuse of antibiotics for ear infections in children and more importantly, alternative remedies to use for ear infections. I have suffered from several ear infections over the past few years, and I can attest to the fact that they hurt! I like to think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain and can only imagine what it must be like for a child. Each time I felt an ear infection coming on, I tried to wait it out and take my vitamins to boost my immune system. However, despite my efforts, I still developed severe inflammation and fluid buildup that caused my ear to protrude. I finally got to the point where I had no choice but to take an antibiotic. Once on antibiotics it still took a couple of days for the swelling to go down, which makes me wonder if the infection simply ran its course versus it actually being treated by the antibiotic.
Dr. Mercola points out in his article that many ear “infections” are actually caused by viruses, rendering antibiotics useless and unnecessary. So it could be that between the time I eventually took the antibiotic (5 days after onset of symptoms) and when my swelling subsided (2-3 days after that) that it was actually a virus that had run its course (7-8 days later).
At any rate, the primary reason I’m sharing Mercola’s article is because he provides some great alternatives to help ease the discomfort of an ear infection and encourage healing without resorting to antibiotic (over)use. Hopefully for me there won’t be a next time to find out if they work (I’m an adult after all – my ear infection days should long be over!), but given the shear number of ear infections I’ve been hearing about, this seems to be good information to share.
What Should You do if Your Child Gets an Ear Infection?
First, watchful waiting is a solid strategy before asking your doctor for a prescription. The majority of kids will get better in 48-72 hours with no antibiotics necessary. During this time, you can try the following solutions, which work remarkably well in treating acute ear infections:
Make garlic ear drops. Ear drops that include extracts of garlic may help reduce the pain of middle-ear infections in children. You can make your own at home by crushing a clove of FRESH raw garlic and dissolving it in some olive oil. Put a few drops of oil in the ear canal, as long as the ear drum is not perforated.
Use breast milk for ear drops. If you have access to breast milk, put a few drops of breast milk in the ear canal every few hours. This usually works to clear up the infection within 24 to 48 hours and is far safer, less expensive and a better solution than putting your child on antibiotics.
Apply a poultice. Application of warmth behind the ear can be used to mobilize the post-auricular lymph chain and vasculature and to draw congestion away from the inflamed area of the middle ear. To do this, heat half of an onion in a toaster oven for a few minutes, until it is warm but not intolerably hot. You could test it by applying to your own ear or inner forearm for several seconds. Next, wrap the onion in cheesecloth or thin dishcloth, and apply the largest side (the cut side, for maximum surface area) to the area just behind the ear.
If your child is not improving or is getting worse after 72 hours, then antibiotics may be required in some severe cases. Make sure you are working with a health care practitioner who is aware of the risks of antibiotic overuse and will work with you to provide alternative options as much as possible.
If your child does take antibiotics, make sure they replenish their supply of beneficial bacteria by taking a high-quality probiotic after the round is complete.
Steps for Prevention
Ear infections are often preventable, and food allergies are one of the number one modifiable causes. Most children will find relief by:
Following the nutrition plan and cutting out grains and sugars (including soda and fruit juice).
Avoiding pasteurized milk. Consumption of dairy products, particularly pasteurized dairy, is a culprit for many children.
Avoid sugars and fruit juices, which will impair your child’s immune response and make them more susceptible to these types of infections.
If your child is consuming any wheat products you might consider eliminating them if they have had recurrent infections, as subclinical gluten intolerance can be a factor contributing to this problem.
Additionally, breastfeeding for at least six months has been linked to fewer ear infections in infants and babies. Exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke also increases the risk of ear infections in children, so make sure your kids are kept away from cigarette smoke.
The bottom line to remember is that if your child gets an ear infection, it doesn’t mean he or she needs an antibiotic.
In fact, in most cases the drugs will only do more harm than good. Before following a knee-jerk response to get a prescription as soon as your child gets an ear infection, work with a health care practitioner who will encourage you to watch the illness and let it take its course before intervening with drugs.
Remember, in the vast majority of cases, ear infections will go away on their own in two to three days with no medications necessary.