Ear infections are one of the most common childhood ailments and after colds, account for the most number of GP visits for babies and young children. So are ear infections just an inevitable part of childhood that must be endured, or can they be avoided or the number of occurrences reduced?
It is natural to want to ease a child’s pain and fever when suffering an ear infection, and so we generally expect to receive a prescription for antibiotics and to be told to give our child paracetamol for pain or fever. However, researchers have now concluded that most ear infections take approximately four days to clear up, with or without prescribing antibiotics. To avoid risk of side effects and a child developing resistance, antibiotics should no longer routinely be given, although in practice they often still are, especially in for children under 2 years of age.
What’s the Alternative to Antibiotics for Ear Infections?
Whilst ‘killing off’ the bacteria causing ear infections, antibiotics do the same to the healthy beneficial bacteria we need, not only in our digestive systems, but also lining the ear nose and throat area. Think of these healthy bacteria as our ‘foot soldiers,’ which together with our immune system, help fight off infections, without the need for drugs. If repeated courses of antibiotics are given, the levels of healthy bacteria are lowered and a child becomes more prone to future ear and other infections. It is possible to restore a child’s health and increase their resistance to infection, through adjustments to their diet and with carefully tailored supplements. Advice varies depending on individual medical history, number of antibiotics taken, how well they eat (and whether they have any nutritional deficiencies), possible food intolerances and any other symptoms present.
I would suggest the following:
A good quality probiotic placed under the tongue at night
Boosting the immune system by increasing foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, D, A and E, zinc and selenium and Essential Fats
Consider reducing or eliminating dairy intake for a time, but ensure calcium intake from other sources
Allow fever (up to 38°C) to run without medication to help fight infection.
Hold off antibiotics for four days to allow the body time to heal itself
A good quality multivitamin and children’s fish oil
The body is an amazing machine, and with the right support will often ‘fix’ itself, so let it have the chance if you can!