The number one reason for antibiotic prescription is for the treatment of ear infections and while antibiotics can be useful, they are grossly over prescribed and often misused. 84-93% of US children will get an ear infection within the first year of life and the primary course of treatment would be antibiotics.
Kids have a tendency to get way more ear infections than do us adults and the reason is anatomical in nature. The eustachian tube is a pathway that connects the middle ear to the pharynx, that later is the cavity that is just behind your nose and mouth which leads into the esophagus. The function of the eustachian tube is to drain mucous and equalize pressure in the middle ear which is why when there is a problem with this part of the body, we can feel dizzy and disoriented. You’ll notice from the picture above that the eustachian tube in kids is much shorter and also quite horizontal as compared to the that of an adult. When fluid accumulates, it creates an ideal situation for bacteria to breed and you can see from the picture that the shorter and horizontal angle of a child’s ET make fluid accumulation more likely as compared to an adult.
Inflammation in the ET causes fluid to accumulate more readily – here are some contributing risk factors to the development of ear infections in children:
- Food or environmental allergies
- Being breastfed for less than three months
- Use of a pacifier
- Swimming in a public pool
- Cigarette Smoke
Though antibiotics are effective for the treatment of ear infections, the overuse of antibiotic medication doesn’t come without side effects. Aside from eliminating sources of inflammation from the list above, there are natural methods of treating an active ear infection. It’s best to confirm that it is a simple ear infection and nothing more serious before trying any of the following suggestions.
ONION EARMUFFS! I love remedy for its price point and high degree of funkyness. Cut an onion in half and heat it up (saute or bake for 10 minutes) so that it gets hot. Wrap it in a cheesecloth and allow to cool to a temperature that is comfortable when placed on top of the ear (flat side to the ear). The fumes from the onion are antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory and will help break up the infection and get things flowing.
GARLIC OIL DROPS: put a couple of cloves of garlic in a dropper bottle and fill with olive oil and let sit for at a few hours. You can place 5 drops in the infected ear and plug with a cotton ball to make sure that it doesn’t seep out. Garlic is antimicrobial.
CUT THE CRAP. And by crap I mean sugar. Bacteria feeds off of sugar so it’s the last thing you want to your child to ingest during any type of infection. This includes fruit, juice, fruity yogurts, ice cream, sugary cereals, and even peanut butter (which is usually chalked with sugar).
THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)
“Water, air, and cleanliness are the chief articles in my pharmacopoeia.”
– Napoleon I
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