I've been dreading this day for over 7 months. I knew it would come. Would I know what to do? Would I be ready? Would I even know?
L spiked her first temperature. I thought her forehead felt warm so I asked my co-workers if they thought so. By the time her little hands were hot I knew we had a problem. I rushed her home and took her temp three ways. Forehead, oral, and rectal. All different. I called me best mommy friends and asked what to do. They gave me advice and told me to call the doctor because her temperature was over 100 degrees. The pediatrician told me to bring her in. She looked in her right ear, which looked fine, then looked in her left ear to find the culprit. An ear infection. Uh oh. The pediatrician prescribed bright pink amoxicillin and told me to swing by whole foods to pick up a probiotic because the antibiotics would wipe out the offending bacteria as well as the bacteria that is beneficial to her little body. Was it the bath water, or something I did? I was reassured that ear infections like hers come from the inside out.
Each year over 10 million children in the U.S are treated for ear infections, which occur most commonly between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. Young children are more prone to ear infections because their still-developing eustachian tube is more horizontally oriented than vertically, making it easy for fluids to gather and bacteria to grow. A common cold or respiratory infection, propping the bottle instead of holding it, or lying flat while drinking can all cause an ear infection. While older children can tell their mothers that their ear hurts, younger children will pull at their ear, and infants may just act irritable and run a fever.
Most pediatricians will prescribe an antibiotic such as Amoxicillin. In addition to killing the infectious bacteria, antibiotics kill the good bacteria in the intestinal tract. You can replace the friendly bacteria with any number of probiotics that are available for children. Our pediatrician recommended a powder that contained L. Reuteri, but there are other options including acidophilus, or lactobacillus bifidus.
Alternative homeopathic remedies are worth a second look, especially for children with persistent ear infections. Belladonna, Chamomilla, Ferrum Phosphoricum, Kali muriaticum, Pulsatilla, Mercurius dulcis, and Arnica are all used as homeopathic ear infection treatments, and each treat specific symptoms. Talk to your pediatrician before you give your child anything.
You can help prevent your child's ear infections with a few simple steps.
- Do not expose your child to cigarrette smoke.
- Do not give your baby a bottle while they are lying flat on their back. (OOPS!)
- Use an elimination diet to determine if food allergies are contributing to the problem.
- Avoid allergens such as dander, down, and dust.
- Minor bupleurum (Chinese herbal formula) can be given, under a strict regimen, to increase resistance to ear infections.
- Anas barbariae (available as Oscillococcinum) can be used once a week, during the month or two when baby is most susceptible, to increase immunity.