Many people reach for antibiotics when their child has an ear infection. I understand why. An ear infection is not only painful for your child, but it robs the whole family of sleep and is close to your child's brain, making it scarier than, say, a leg ache.
We were blessed with some good advice from our (mainstream) pediatrician when Sage was a baby. Her daughter, prone to frequent ear infections, became her antibiotics-for-ear-infections guinea pig. The physician experimented with antibiotics for her child's ear infections: half of the time she gave them to her, half of the time she didn't. The result? She no longer prescribes antibiotics for ear infections. She found no difference in average healing time with our without the meds.
And the use of antibiotics - for anyone, but children in particular - should be done with great care. The implications of every dose of antibiotics is massive. Sage's colic, for example, began one day after we chose to administer antibiotics to our baby when he spiked a fever at 2 weeks old.
Antibiotics don't discriminate with what they kill and your (or your child's) entire system is cleared of the beneficial bacteria that keep us healthy. Antibiotics have their place, but are serious medicine for such small, sensitive systems.
With any ear infection, seek consult from a naturopath, homeopath, or physician who shares your perspective. We called our homeopath/physician and her recommended remedies for his care. It is now 11:00 and Sage has napped and is feeling 90% better.
Our earache remedies follow:
~ Garlic Willow Ear Oil: You can purchase this at your coop or make your own. To make your own, crush three cloves of peeled garlic. Add 1/3 C organic olive oil, and gently warm. Do not simmer. Cover and allow to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain. Place four drops of warm (not hot or cold) garlic ear oil in each of the child's ear. Always treat both ears. If you have access to mullien flowers they are a wonderful addition.
~ Onion Compress: I know. It sounds weird, but works great. Cold or hot onion compresses work beautifully to draw infection from the ear.
Hot Onion Compress - Saute 1/2 of a medium onion in 1 Tb olive oil. Cool slightly. Divide and wrap in cotton flannel and place warm compresses on both ears. Allow to cool before removing. These can be held in place with a washable hat.
Cold Onion Treatment - slice onion into 1/2" pieces. Wrap in gauze and place on both ears. Top with a tight hat and have your child wear as long as they will stand for it, up to two hours.
~ Homeopathic remedies: There are several options available. Your choice will vary by you child's symptoms. We use our favorite homeopathy books (this one and this one), but there are also online resources if you don't have a homeopath in your area.
~ Warm lower back: Chinese medicine connect kidneys and ears. Keeping the kidneys warm with a hot water bottle is comforting.
~ Ginger-Lemon-Honey-Echinacea Tea: Pound a 2" piece of garlic with the butt-end of your knife handle. No need to peel. Place in a pan and cover with 4 C water. Simmer. Add 1/4 C echinacea flowers and remove from heat. Steep for 15 minutes. Strain, add the juice of 2-3 lemons, and sweeten with honey (use maple if you child is too young for honey).