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Ear Infections

Probably the commonest known, most misunderstood, and easiest to actually treat, are children's ear infections. Over the years I have lost count of the discussions I've had about this. Far from being an expert, I do however have considerable experience as a healer in this area, and offer you the following not as a professional, but with total confidence.

To begin with, let me say that the best doctor to diagnose your child's ear problems is you. This can be done with a good flashlight, but in my opinion every parent should own an otoscope, that gadget the doctor uses to look in your ears. They have come in down in price dramatically since being made available to the public. I have found an excellent on-line resource showing actual photos of ears including normal ears, infected ears, damaged ears, and wax. They also sell two models of scope on-line.

Ear Infections are an avoidable and easily treatable condition. There are several things we must do to prevent them:

Make sure your child's ears are not full of wax. Sounds pretty obvious, but clogged ears are great traps for infections. Also it is hard to tell the difference between pain caused by an infection, and that caused by wax. The trick is to press just in front of the ear, if it hurts to press there, chances are it's wax. A doctor, presented with a child with wax clogged ears often cannot even SEE the eardrum to tell if it is infected or not. The lazy ones will then prescribe the drugs "just in case". The correct thing to do in this case is to remove the wax with warm oil (olive oil, mineral oil, or a commercial brand such as Ceramol). If there is no infection the pain will cease immediately. If there is an infection, the eardrum will now be visible and the pain will have been reduced by the warm oil. I'll come back to the oil later.

If your child has recurrent ear infections it's a very good idea to see an allergist. Ear Infections have been positively linked with milk allergies, and possibly others. My sister-in-law's children went from constant ear infections to NONE, simply but changing to a dairy-free diet. Calcium is available from other sources, and yoghurt can still be given, the culture in it makes it behave differently. This is not the solution for everyone, but should always be checked out.

All infections have to begin somewhere. Most Ear Infections are not "caught" but are either complications of a cold, because the extra mucus breeds the little bugs, or simply that the last time it never really went away, just quietened down. This is a classic problem with antibiotics. They only work while you are taking them. Meanwhile they suppress your own immune system so that as soon as the drug is discontinued and the infection starts to reproduce itself again, there is nothing in place to stop it. The body, left to it's own devices, will finish the job. So the secret is to get that immune system right up to scratch. The first thing to do is change the diet. Throw out all the junk food. Sugar supprsess the immune system, so keep sweet stuff to an absolute minimum. In an extreme case, I would almost cut it out completely, even watch natural sugar such as in juice. Offer water (not tap water) instead, or herbal teas. Increase the good things, you know the stuff, veggies, grains, oily fish. Children usually object to this sudden change in diet but they get used to it suprisingly quickly. Moms I know who've gone totally macrobiotic have said that the first week is hell, but after that they find favourites within the new lists, and soon forget their old ways. There is a disadvantage to it, I must warn you about. My kids systems are so used to "heathy" food that junk food makes them feel ill, even throw up. It's a good deterrent of course, no child wants to be ill, but it makes parties etc a little difficult. I tell the hosts that they have food allergies and it saves a lot of awkward questions!!

Use supplements to ensure a perfect nutrition. A child who has had repeated illnesses may be very run down on nutrients, and this lowers his immune system. Then when he becomes ill again he doesn’t eat and a cycle develops. A naturopath can tailor it to your child's individual needs but a good multivitamin is a start. Give alfalfa juice daily, and add alfalfa to salads too. This is a "perfect" food and you can almost live on it. Give a lot of seeds, and whole grains, spinkle it in everything. My kids absolute favourite dish is baked potato with ratatouille on top, sprinkled with seeds. You can make it spicy or plain, depending on tastes. This is packed with nutrition. Peppers, Beans, Squash, Broccolli will all give the immune system a boost in winter.

At the first sign of any illness give echinacea. If it doesn't prevent it entirely it will help shorten it, lessen it, and keep complications away.

Use the oil regularly to keep the ears clean.

Once an ear infection does strike (and if you follow all this above, chances are it won't) don't give up. The ideal thing is to find a doctor who is open to the new ideas (or very old ideas!!) who will monitor your child's condition, rather than medicate. Use a children's painkiller/fever reducer if necessary. Again, nature has the best one, White Willow Bark, which is where they found Aspirin, contains the same ingredient but without having been tampered with. Reduces fever, pain, AND inflammation. It has the advantage of not causing stomach irritation, unlike the chemical version. Have you noticed how once your child takes the antibiotic the infection is gone in 3 days? Well, it will anyway!! Just relieve the pain locally,(I use the same oil to do this), keep the ear warm with a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, keep the fever down, if there is one, and if it gets WORSE instead of better, THEN you can refer back to a doctor, and even THEN if he doesn't think it has spread, you can relieve the symptoms and sit it out.

As I said, we have six children. Because of our ways, we have had out of all of them, 5 ear infections in 18 years, all treated by me as above.

I expect you've heard dramatic stories of eardrums bursting. Well, they heal! The pressure is relieved at the point where the membrane gives way, the pain ceases, the fluid drains, hey presto, nature took it's course. Fact is, this is actually very rare, not what they'd have you believe.

Warning: The one thing to look for with all fevers is febrile convulsions. A very high temperature can bring these on in certain susceptible children. They are often preceeded by "rigors" where the child shakes uncontrollably. Left untreated a convulsion can occur. It will soon pass, but will recur with subsequently lower temperatures. Treatment is to bring down the temperature QUICKLY. Use a cool, not cold, bath, and give a fever reliever immediately. Again, this is rare, and will happen, if it is going to, whether you use an antibiotic or not!!

Nature has its own antibiotic. It is called Golden Seal. This along with garlic in large quantities, helps the despatch infections. Drink Cranberry juice too.

I am constantly being told: I am not "qualified" to state any of the has worked for centuries!