Has your child suddenly begun to tug or pull at his ears? Has he been crying or whining about something you don’t understand?
He might have an ear infection, an inflammation in the middle ear that usually occurs when bacteria and fluids build up in the eardrum.
Anyone can be a victim of an ear infection, but it is most common in babies and children. In fact, it is so common that it’s the bread and butter of many pediatricians. As a general rule, pediatricians treat an ear infection in children with a full course of antibiotics.
In medical terminology, an ear infection that occurs for the first time and doesn’t happen again is called acute otitis media. When not treated properly, it can cause pain and even fever, particularly if the fluid in the eardrum isn’t reduced quickly.
There are several clues that will let you know if your child is suffering from an ear infection. The most obvious is crying and tugging at the ears. Other signs include: trouble sleeping, awkwardness and clumsiness, and not being able to hear or respond to quiet sounds.
Aside from antibiotics, which often have side effects, there are also safe and natural ways to treat an ear infection in children.
Probiotics for ear infections
As we discussed above, this condition is often caused by bad bacteria. It is frequently accompanied by a sore throat, a cold or even an upper respiratory tract infection.
Although most pediatricians treat ear infections with antibiotics, researchers in Italy have found that it is probiotics, rather than antibiotics, which can significantly reduce ear infections, throat infections and tonsillitis among children and adults.
Unlike antibiotics, probiotics don’t cause negative side effects or encourage the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.
In a study published in the International Journal of General Medicine, researchers studied 82 children between 4 and 5 years old, 65 of whom were diagnosed with ear infection and/or throat infection. The researchers gave 45 of the sick children an oral probiotic containing Streptococcus salivarius K12. The control group was not treated.
Each of the 45 children were given these oral probiotics daily for a total of 90 days. 41 out of 45 children completed the 90-day treatment. All 41 children had a 90% reduction in throat infections. There was also a 40% reduction in ear infections.
In a six-month follow-up, during which time the children did not undergo treatment of any kind, the children who took oral probiotics during the 90 day study had a 65% reduction in ear and throat infections.
Lack of Vitamin D is linked to ear infections. Furthermore, recent research has shown that supplementation with Vitamin D helps reduce risk for ear infection in children.
A total of 116 children with a history of recurrent ear infection were given treatment of 1000 IU of Vitamin D for four months. The results of this protocol showed a significant decrease in recurrent ear infections.
Other Vital nutrients for immune support
Vitamin C, zinc and vitamin A are all important for proper immune function. They are needed by the body to fight off bacteria, virus and fungi and to keep the immune system balanced to prevent excess inflammation.
Children who are deficient in these vitamins and minerals are more prone to infections, including ear and throat infections and tonsillitis.
Vitamin C is a very important nutrient for the immune system because it helps produce antibodies and white blood cells that fight infection-causing pathogens.
Although no studies have yet proved that vitamin A can treat ear infection in children, preliminary studies done on animals show that a lack of vitamin A does lead to the condition.
Because it’s so challenging to get children to eat a wide array of vegetables, proteins and fruits, a multivitamin for kids will ensure they receive these important nutrients.
Mullein flowers have been shown to help ear infections because they can soothe inflamed tissue. Oil infused with an extract of mullein flowers can be used as ear drops if the eardrum is intact.
Crushed garlic is also known to help with infections. Warm a bit of garlic oil and put a few drops into the ear canal. You can also saturate a small piece of cotton then use it to form a plug for the ear. It is important to use this garlic treatment only if the eardrum is not punctured.
Echinacea or purple coneflower is a natural immune-booster that can be used for ear infection. Echinacea contains a phytochemical called echinacoside, a natural antibiotic that can fight a variety of microbes. It also has echinacein, another compound that protects the tissues from hyaluronidase, an enzyme in bacteria that dissolves hyaluronic acid that protects the tissues from damage.
Each of these immune boosters can strengthen your child’s overall health, helping them resist future infections and lessening their dependence upon antibiotics.
If you’re not sure where to begin, we recommend starting with powdered probiotics you can sprinkle on food and a basic children’s multivitamin. These two products will greatly improve your child’s odds of resisting bugs and infections.
Because quality varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer, buy the highest quality children’s supplements that you can. Although we are constantly bombarded with television commercials promoting this or that product, these heavily promoted brands might not always be the wisest choice.
Consider buying something a step above the vitamins found at your local grocery store or pharmacy. We recommend professional grade supplements like those offered within this site. This will ensure you’re providing your child with the best vitamins and supplements available.