Alternative Treatments for Ear Infections

This article was originally published in Natural Awakenings magazine in August 2009.

Ear infections are the most common reason for pediatric visits, with an estimated 24.5 million per year, and the most common reason for antibiotic prescription among children. They are also the most common reason for surgery among children.

Most children one year of age have already received at least one course of antibiotics. This is alarming, particularly given the widely publicized concerns regarding overuse of antibiotics and the long term and converse effects on the health of our children vs. the health of the microbes: the more we ingest, the more resistant the bacteria become and the less resistant our systems become.

Research published in the prestigious Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal suggests homeopathy is effective in providing symptomatic relief in the treatment of acute otitis media (middle ear infection) in children.     In another study, Pediatric Infectious Diseases looked at the effectiveness of homeopathy in treatment of acute ear infections. Symptoms were decreased significantly at 24 and 64 hours after treatment, and there were fewer treatment failures and recurrences at 5 days, 2 weeks and 6 weeks. The author noted four homeopathic remedies used most often for ear infections were: pulsatilla, chamomilla, sulfur, and calcarea carbonica.

While you have a good chance of addressing an ear infection with one of these, please remember that for chronic or recurring episodes it is best to consult a professional. And anyone can learn the basics of homeopathy so that they can treat mild acute problems at home.

The right homeopathic remedy is incredibly effective not only in relieving the symptoms of an acute ear infection, but in minimizing the chances of recurrence. This is in sharp contrast to the merry-go-round experience of alternating ear infections and antibiotics which so many frustrated parents and frantic children have experienced, where infections recur increasingly whenever a child is not on antibiotics.

Other holistic modalities are also helpful for ear infections including chiropractic, herbs, and accupuncture.

For any child with a history of ear infections, please check for food sensitivities; they are almost always the underlying cause.  Eliminating chronic ear infections may be easier than you think!

Here are some additional suggestions for dealing with ear infections.

  • Sing! Did you know that singing exercises all the muscles of the head and neck, providing the pump action which empties the Eustachian tubes? That helps keep children free from middle ear infections. Singing also releases endorphins, the body’s pleasure hormones. So lead a round, or put on some music and sing out!
  • Fish Oil: Annals of Otolaryngology, Rhinology, Laryngology reported that over a season, flavored cod liver oil prevented ear infections in children who were prone to them.
  • Garlic: You can make your own garlic oil by mashing a clove of garlic and covering with 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Let it sit for at least a few hours, then strain.  Apply a few warm drops in the effected ear, and cover with a little bit of cotton ball.
  • Xylitol is a natural sugar replacement from birch that has some amazing therapeutic effects.  Among them is reduction in ear infections, and anti-microbial properties.  Children can use xylitol in the form of gum.  The chewing action itself is beneficial for the ear, and the xylitol makes it anti-microbial. Xylitol has virtually no impact on blood sugar.

Fran Sussman has had a holistic health practice in Orange County for over 17 years.  She resolved her first chronic ear infections homeopathically for her own daughter, 21 years ago.

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