Thirteen months after I published this article, I am thrilled to issue this update. My son did set a record (care to challenge it?) of enduring an astonishing 17 ear infections but he has been clear for most of 2009. On the advice of Jack’s chiropractor, pediatrician and a naturopath, we removed dairy and wheat from his and my diets with miraculous results. The only ear infections he had after that point came after I found him on the kitchen floor with a box of cereal, or one of his brother’s sippies, or when a substitute church nursery teacher fed him a handful of goldfish. Other than that we were in the clear.
I attribute the lion’s share of his recovery with dietary changes. I think the chiropractic helped and home remedies helped us suffer through but I think I must be the world’s leading un-medical ear infection authority and had some room to dish out a little advice to those suffering the same fate. (Be sure your child’s pediatrician is in the loop on anything you attempt at home.)
1. Your kid doesn’t have to get tubes! In fact, Jack’s pediatrician never even recommended them, telling us that many kids keep getting infections even after the procedure. We worked out a plan where he (or our naturopath) would check his ears when I noticed the first sign of the fussies, I had him adjusted at the chiropractor, rubbed his tubes clear behind his ears with a special homeopathic ointment and, voila, the ears drained.
2. There is probably a reason your kid is constantly congested. For us it turned out to be a food sensitivity. Most of the time these clear up in the first 18 months of your child’s life but they can wreak havoc if left undiagnosed and unaddressed. Try removing categories of foods (under a physician’s guidance) from your child’s diet and see if anything changes. No? Discuss potential reasons for chronic snottiness with your ped.
3. Don’t over-antibioticize! We did antibiotics with the first three rounds of infections with my baby and ended up fighting a 6-month battle with thrush. SO not worth it! Usually, antibiotics are not necessary and once we expressed our desire to avoid them, our pediatrician was more than happy to work with us on other methods of treatment, saying that he’d recommend them only when absolutely necessary.
4. Breastfeed! The sucking motion of breastfeeding works wonders at alleviating ear pain and pressure. Jack’s ear troubles didn’t start until he was six months old so I was awfully glad we were still nursing at that point. On bad nights he could nurse through the night unrestricted which saved us all some grief and lost sleep.
5. Expand your health care horizons. There is more than one way to get the job done. Naturopaths specialize in finding and eradicating the root of the problem, usually through dietary changes and other natural means. Many parents swear by chiropractic or accupuncture for treating ear infections. If you can’t bring yourself to stray from the strictest form of western medicine, a little bit of research can still go a long way when discussing your options with your doctor.