Middle ear infection, or otitis media, is one of the most common childhood infections, affecting up to 90 percent of children at least once before the age of 10. In most cases, ear infections go away easily on their own and have few long-term consequences.
However, in some children, the infections become chronic, which can describe an ear infection that does not heal or recurrent ear infections in a short period of time. This can cause temporary hearing loss, which is also a potential risk for speech development.
It is this latter concern that is often prompted by physicians to recommend ventilation tubes for the child, but research on its effectiveness suggests that the long-term benefits of this surgery may be negligible or even non-existent.
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What is ear infection
If your child has pain, redness, or pus in the ear, along with a fever, these are signs of an acute ear infection, which can be caused by bacteria or viruses. In some cases, antibiotics can be helpful in treating these infections, but not always.
A second type of ear infection is called otitis media with effusion (OME), and it is this type, in which ventilation tubes are often recommended. Unlike acute ear infections, otitis media with effusion is usually painless; its main symptom is the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear.
OME is often caused by viral upper respiratory infections, such as colds. Just like your child catches a runny nose, the middle ear can fill with fluid, but it can’t be easily drained like it does from the nose. The fluid can become infected and can remain in the middle ear for a month or more, leading to hearing problems.
While OME typically clears up on its own, concern has grown that the temporary hearing loss it causes could pose a risk to young children’s speech, causing developmental delays.
This is why doctors may advise a surgical procedure to place tubes in the child’s ears to help drain the fluid. New research suggests, however, that this may have little impact on speech in the long term, raising questions about its benefits.
Can ear infections be prevented?
The infections of the ear often can be prevented, and allergies to foods are the number one of the modifiable causes, especially if your child has a chronic infection . Many children will find relief through:
- Following a nutrition plan and eliminating grains and sugars(including soft drinks and fruit juices) from the diet.
- Avoid pasteurized milk. Consuming dairy products, particularly pasteurized dairy products, is a culprit for many children.
- Avoid sugars and commercial fruit juices, which will impair your child’s immune response and make them more susceptible to these types of infections.
- If your child is consuming wheat products, you might consider eliminating them if they have had recurring infections, subclinical gluten intolerance may be a contributing factor to this problem. Wheat and gluten are especially troublesome for most children, and removing them often miraculously cures the problem.
Additionally, breastfeeding for at least six months has been linked to fewer ear infections in children and infants. Exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke also increases the risk of ear infections in children, so make sure your children stay away from cigarette smoke. Also, if you bottle feed your baby, do it only in an upright position. Bottle feeding while lying down is associated with an increased risk of ear infections.
Natural options for treating ear infection
The following natural options work very well in treating acute ear infections:
Making garlic ear drops
Ear drops that include garlic extracts can help reduce pain from middle ear infections in children. You can make your own home remedy by crushing a fresh raw garlic clove and dissolving it in a little olive oil, let it rest for 24 to 48 hours. After this time strain the mixture very well. Use a bottle of ear drops, put a few drops of oil in the painful ear and hold for 5-10 minutes. Repeat the procedure at least 3 times a day.
Use breast milk for ear drops
If you have access to breast milk, put a few drops of breast milk in the ear canal every few hours. This generally works to clear the infection within 24 to 48 hours and is much safer, less expensive, and a better solution than putting your child on antibiotics.
Use coconut oil ear drops
The coconut oil has anti – microbial and anti-viral properties that are ideal to counteract ear infections. Put a couple of drops of coconut oil in each ear canal. If the coconut oil has solidified, it can easily be melted by placing a small amount in a glass or other small container and placing it in a cup of hot water.
Many, but not all chiropractors are trained in adjustments that can actually open the Eustachian tube and allow it to drain properly. This relieves pressure build-up and pain, and allows the conditions causing the ear infection to dissipate. Something similar to draining a swamp and the mosquito epidemic disappears.
Apply an onion poultice
The application of heat behind the ear can be used to mobilize the post auricular lymphatic chain and vasculature and to move congestion away from the inflamed area of the middle ear. To do this, heat half an onion in a toaster oven for a few minutes until hot but not unbearably hot.
You could try applying to your own ear or inner forearm for several seconds. Next, wrap the onion in gauze or thin cloth, and apply the longest side (the side of the cut, for the maximum surface area) to the area behind the ear.