Image by Bruce Eric
Thursday night, we got all the kids to bed and I sighed and sat down. “It’s been a long week, and I hope we get some sleep tonight,” I said. The boys were quiet, so my husband and I set out to clean the kitchen and playroom quickly before watching some TV and going to bed. But as we were finishing up, I heard my 4-year-old screaming upstairs.
She complained she was sick and she couldn’t explain what was wrong, other than “my cold is bothering me.” (She’d had one for a few days already.) We offered all the usual helps (essential oils, honey — which she refused, more drinks of water, etc.) and resettled her. But she continued to cry…every 15 or 20 minutes. By 11:30 (three hours later) we knew she was not going to settle down. She had started complaining that her ear hurt. I tried eucalyptus oil in her ears (diluted) but she didn’t like that. And so I suspected we had our very first ear infection.
My husband slept in her bed so we could all get through the night. She came to lay with me at 5:30 when he got up for work, and we were up for the day by 6. And thus started our ‘escapades’ with ear infections…. I thought you might all like to know what ultimately helped.
There are some ways to ease the pain of ear infections at home. If your child wakes up in the middle of the night screaming like mine did, you can try any of these that they will allow:
- Essential oil: 4 drops of eucalyptus essential oil mixed with 1 tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil. Place it in the ear for 5 – 10 minutes, then drain.
- Garlic oil: Cut a garlic clove into large chunks and let it sit in oil for 10 – 15 minutes. Do not heat. Remove garlic (do not leave any pieces) and place some drops of the oil in the ears for 10 – 15 min.
- Breastmilk: Place breastmilk in the ear and allow to sit for 5 – 10 minutes.
- Collodial silver: Place 2 – 3 drops in the ears and allow to sit for 10 – 15 min.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Place a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in the ears and allow it to sit until it stops bubbling.
- Pulsatilla: This is a homeopathic remedy that is probably the right choice for most in this situation (it won’t hurt if it’s wrong, but it won’t help either).
- Belladonna: This is another homeopathic remedy to try, especially if fever is involved.
- Pillows: Prop the person up on pillows to sleep at an incline. This reduces the pressure on the ears and allows downward drainage.
- Spanish Black Radish: This is an herbal supplement that encourages drainage.
- Fenugreek and Slippery Elm: Make a tea from both of these (about 1/2 tsp. each per cup of water), sweeten with honey, and offer it to drink. It helps to clear mucus from the body.
- “Special Lemonade:” Let the child sip this (recipe below)
These things can help ease the pain. They can also help to clear the infection in many cases.
Since these things alone did not work, our most important line of defense was the chiropractor. We took her in in the morning and he checked her ears — definitely noted an infection — and adjusted her ears and spine near her ears to encourage drainage. Ear infections happen because the tubes leading from the ears into the throat become blocked or swollen and won’t drain, and then the fluid inside gets infected.
Within hours after her adjustment, she was able to sleep. She didn’t complain about her ears hurting anymore.
Seek the help of a qualified chiropractor, preferably one who has experience working with children. In many cases a simple adjustment can help to clear the infection. It can also make the above suggestions more effective.
We also called her pediatrician and an NRT (Nutritional Response Testing) doctor. I know — we probably overreacted. But it was her first ear infection and it was a Friday, so if we didn’t address it we’d have to wait through the weekend. The pediatrician couldn’t see her but said as long as she wasn’t in severe pain and didn’t have a fever she was fine to just wait it out. He gave the following suggestions:
- 1000 – 1500 mg of vitamin C, every few hours
- 25 mg zinc, every few hours
- FCLO, double dose (he said vit A but I always give FCLO)
The NRT doctor said the infection was actually bacterial and gave her some herbal drops to be used both in her ears and internally. Even though she was feeling better, we offered them to her for a few days. Since they are herbal and not antibiotics, there is no chance of “resistance” developing if she doesn’t finish a course or take them as directed, so although she’s still taking them, she isn’t taking them as frequently as she was at first.
All of this relieved her pain so that she could sleep, and she hasn’t complained about her ears again.
This is a very fun little recipe that can help with any cold or ear issue. Or any sinus issue at all, really. It’s not especially fun to drink, but there are also worse things.
- 3 – 4 slices of fresh ginger
- 2 c. water
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 – 3 tbsp. raw honey
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne
Boil the ginger in water for 10 – 15 min. Strain. Add lemon juice and let it cool a bit. Add the raw honey to taste and cayenne pepper (the hotter, the better). Sip the tea as needed. The spiciness of the ginger and cayenne pepper should help clear the blocked sinuses.
Upon hearing that the infection was, according to the NRT doctor, bacterial, my dad asked why we didn’t use antibiotics. Isn’t that what they’re for?
There are times to use antibiotics, but it’s a very important decision, one to be very cautious about. In my daughter’s case, her pediatrician didn’t even feel that her symptoms warranted evaluation, much less antibiotics.
Here is what we would have looked for before considering them:
- High fever, lasting more than a few hours (he said 2 – 3 days)
- Severe pain
- Any sign of pus/discharge from the ears
- Inconsolable crying/inability to sleep
- Other remedies not working after a reasonable amount of time (4 – 6 hours)
These signs would indicate that the infection was serious and that immediate intervention was required. Had we chosen to go this route, we would have given probiotics in between doses, put her on a sugar/grain-free diet during the course and for a few weeks after, and offered plenty of FCLO, bone broth, and other healthy foods to support her body during healing (the same as we are now, although we’re not as strict about it — she still has grains and some natural sugars).
Antibiotics should not, in my opinion, be used as a matter of course just because something is bacterial. There should be a clear indication that the infection is severe and will not clear up on its own, indicating a need for intervention.
**This post has been entered in Frugal Days and Sustainable Ways.**