Common Remedies to Consider for Ear infections

Anyone can get an earache, but children tend to get them much more often than adults. In the U.S., it’s reported that five out of six children will have at least one earache by their third birthday. In fact, ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor.

How can you tell a little one is struggling with an ear problem? Any of these behaviors or symptoms may be an indication:
• Tugging or pulling at the ear(s)
• Fussiness and crying
• Trouble sleeping
• Fever (especially in infants and younger children)
• Fluid draining from the ear
• Clumsiness or problems with balance
• Trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds
It is not uncommon for pediatricians to recommend a course of antibiotics and OTC pain medications like acetaminophen for children with this problem.
Luckily, homeopathy is an awesome option that can bring effective, speedy relief – without the risk of unwanted side effects.

Here six commonly indicated homeopathic remedies:

Belladonna: This homeopathic remedy is a great one to think of when your child’s ear problem develops suddenly and he or she is quite red and hot, especially in the face. There will often be a fever that almost burns the hand when touching the face (the body can at times feel cool despite this red, hot face). The child may be very sensitive to noises – with noise making the ear pain worse. Slightly jarring the child will often make the child very uncomfortable. Dullness, drowsiness and lethargy are common in a child needing this remedy. Sleep may be restless and the child may scream or jerk violently in sleep, waking in a delirious, or “out of it” state. Right-sided ear pain may be present (though not always). They may also be quite thirsty for cold water.

Chamomilla: A child needing this homeopathic remedy is easy to spot – their mental/emotional symptoms give them away. They are restless, extremely irritable, whiny, and demanding and will often ask for a toy or a bottle – only to toss it aside as soon as you give it to them. Another key for this remedy – the child cries incessantly and is only quieted when being carried about the room… at other times they may object strongly to being touched – particularly near the painful ear. The ear pains are sharp, stitching and often sudden in nature. The ears may be quite sensitive to fresh or cold air. While some redness in the face is not uncommon, at times, a parent may notice that one cheek is bright red while the other cheek is pale. The child is often worse at night and from warmth. Consider this remedy when teething is likely present at the same time.

Ferrum phosphoricum: This homeopathic remedy can be called for at the beginning of a problem. The picture the child presents is similar to that for Belladonna – but not as intense (less heat, pain, redness, lethargy). Again – the ear pain may be on the right side. I have found the best clue to this remedy is that the child will seem overall well – good appetite, good mood, playing as usual– though they might have quite a high fever and a big problem brewing in both ears! Think of it generally in the first stage of a problem.

Hepar sulphur: This homeopathic remedy is often helpful for a child that is extremely sensitive to their environment – particularly cold air, touch, and noise. Ear problems might actually begin after exposure to dry, cold air. They may ask to be covered even in a warm room. They may also sweat more easily than normal – and the sweat may have a strong, somewhat offensive odor. A child needing Hepar will often show no interest in playing, be easily angered, and prefer to be left alone. Often you can find the ear pain accompanied by a very congested nose (yellow mucus) and loose or barky cough. If there is a discharge from the ear, it will have an offensive odor and a thick, creamy consistency.

Mercurius: The clues for needing this remedy are usually a right-sided ear infection which is worse during the night. And the pain can be quite severe – causing the child to hold their head with their hands. The child may complain that the ear feels clogged or they may have some difficulty hearing low volume sounds. There will often be great restlessness, sleeplessness and much thirst (even though the mouth appears to be quite moist). The warmth of the bed at night often makes the child feel worse. In addition, you will often find a thirst for cold drinks, a tendency to drool, bad odor from the mouth and a general sweatiness about the child.

Pulsatilla: This homeopathic remedy is often called for after your child experiences a cold with yellowish-greenish discharge from the nose first. The ear pain may cause little concern during the day, though as evening sets in, pains variable and of increasing severity (sometimes violent in nature) develop and continue through the night. There can be a profuse, thick, yellowish or yellowish-green discharge from the ear that is typically bland and inoffensive smelling. The ear(s) may also feel as though they are plugged resulting in some difficulty hearing low volume sounds. The child needing this remedy is often weepy, whiny and clingy and is better from affection (i.e., a sweet or even pathetic child rather than a cross and irritable “Chamomilla” child). Symptoms are often better in cold air and from cold applications and from being gently carried. The child is often thirstless as well.

For babies, teething is often a trigger for ear infections. The stress on the system to cut the teeth often makes babies’ immune systems weaker, and less able to fight the germs they are exposed to. Swimming in summer can also result in ear infections, as water sometimes collects behind the tympanic membrane, causing pain.

In addition to homeopathy, other measures to consider are: higher doses of Vitamin D – consider 1-3,000 iu per day, depending on the age of the child. Also, a warm “ear drop oil” made with garlic, mullein, oregano, etc., applied by drops into the ears can help fight the infection locally. If you are still breast feeding, mix some breast milk into the oil. Unless the baby or child is in extreme pain or has a fever over 40*, consider avoiding acetaminophen (or any medication used specifically to break the fever). Fever is the body’s defense as bacteria and virus die off at higher heat. If you rob the body of its defenses, the fight will be prolonged. If you are uncertain about what is going on, its always best to have the ears checked by a health professional!

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Lisa Samet, Naturopath
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Outremont (Québec) Canada
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