Ear infections, especially in kids, are a common problem and cause a lot of discomfort. The good news is that they are usually easy to treat without a trip to the doctor. In fact, mild to moderate ear infections are one of the easiest things to treat naturally.
ANTIBIOTICS ARE RARELY THE SOLUTION- In recent studies, it has been shown that taking antibiotics for mild to moderate ear infections – especially in children – doesn’t seem to work. In fact, the kids that did nothing for their ear infections got well just as quickly as those taking antibiotics. Additionally, it was found that those taking antibiotics typically ended up with ear infections that just kept coming back.
The reason antibiotics don’t seem to work well for ear infections is because the cause of the ear infection is not being addressed. In children, the eustachian tube is not slanted enough for the moisture in the ear to drain, so the inside of the ear becomes like a swamp that breeds bacteria. In addition, dairy consumption in kids that are susceptible is notorious for causing mucus buildup in the ears.
With a double whammy of mucus buildup in the ears of children that do not tolerate dairy well, combined with a eustachian tube that does not drain well, you have a bacteria breeding ground. Antibiotics may set the infection back, but until the “swamp” is dried out there is typically no lasting change.
HOME REMEDIES- First, it would be good to get a home otoscope (a scope to look in the ear of your child). If a doctor diagnoses your child with an ear infection, have him or her show you what it looks like and point out how he knows it is infected. This way you can monitor it at home with your own otoscope so you know if it is getting better or not. This may sound daunting, but it is really pretty easy. Ear infections are just like any other infection – when you see lots of red there is infection.
The first and easiest home remedy, which helps to both kill off the bacteria breeding in the ear and dry out the swamp, is to fill the ear with a mixture of half vinegar and half alcohol. Just mix the two together, in equal amounts, in a little dropper bottle. Have the child lay on his or her side with the bad ear up and fill the ear in the morning and night with the solution. Have them stay that way for five minutes or so to let the mixture really kill things off. After the first few days, it is ok to just put 3-4 drops in the ear morning and night, but filling it is still the best way, especially in the beginning.
For chronic ear infections, you need to make these drops a regular preventative activity, maybe once per day, just before bed. However, there is one other thing that needs to be done…stop feeding your child dairy. When a child is sensitive to dairy, it really congests the inside of the ears. This is such a common part of chronic ear infections that once you see it work over and over you will begin to see the routine use of ear tubes as an archaic, mostly unnecessary practice, on the same level as many medical practices of the 1800’s. It is still a good last resort, just rarely necessary.
WHEN TO GET HELP- First of all, before treating a child for an ear infection, make sure they are actually having an ear infection. Let a doctor look inside the ear to confirm it is infected.
The above solutions work so well for mild to moderate infections it is almost criminal not to know about them. That being said, severe ear infections can spread to the bones of the skull behind the ear and cause major problems that can lead to meningitis. This is very, very rare, but if the ear infection seems severe, or does not respond to home treatment, definitely see your medical doctor and go the antibiotic route. This is a case in which it is absolutely necessary.
Hope this helps,
Dr Matt and Dr Robin
This week’s bit of Useless Information: Gone With the Wind (1939) was the first movie filmed in color to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
This email is courtesy of Matthew Barnes, D.C. and Robin Barnes, D.C. Neither this nor any of our emails are intended to be medical advice and should not be taken as such. They are opinion and are for informational purposes only. None of the nutrients discussed here are meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.