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Call for Resources - Homeopathic Ear Treatments

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The first of two posts today where I'll be asking for your help.

I've been out of town (down in Houston preparing for our upcoming Search Engine Guide conference) which hasn't left me much time for posting, but I've had a few things come up.

First, we had our appointment yesterday with the ENT specialist for Emmitt. You might remember that he had a killer of an ear infection around Thanksgiving last year. Three rounds of oral antibiotics and two direct injections cleared it up a bit, but due to the intensity of the infection, our Ped referred us to a specialist.

Yesterday was that appointment and I was disappointed to learn Emmitt STILL has fluid in his ears. To make it worse, hat fluid is on its way to getting infected again. The ENT said they generally either look for three bad ear infections over six months OR one really bad infection that resists treatment for three months before they do tubes.

We're more than two months into this current infection.

So, here's the plan.

He gave us another round or oral antibiotics (the strongest of the three we tried last time) to see if we can clear this up. It could be purely an anatomical issue, or it could be an immune issue as in he just can't fight off the infection all the way. We go back in three weeks. If it's cleared up, there will be no push for tubes. If it doesn't clear up, he'll push for tubes.

Now, I'm not a paranoid mother at all. BUT...the idea of general anesthesia terrifies me. Absolutely terrifies me. I'm also not a fan of any surgery that isn't 100% necessary. So, I'm in process of exploring our options. Here's what I've got so far, would love input from anyone with knowledge in this area.

1.) Breast milk. I've still got that 200 oz in the basement. While I assume it's too old to be good, easy enough to find out. I'll be thawing out two bottles today. If it's good, he's going to get it in his sippy the next two weeks.

2.) Cutting out dairy. I know dairy contributes to mucus which contributes to fluid in the ears. We'll be cutting out cow's milk for the next couple weeks for him. (or, at least dramatically reducing it if the breast milk isn't good.)

3.) Chiropractic care. I called my chiro yesterday and he said he often does adjustments on toddlers to help clear sinuses and improve drainage. I'm going to take Emmitt down later today for his first adjustment.

4.) The antibiotics. I'm not a fan of them, but I'm willing to give them a go in conjunction with the rest of this if it lowers the chance of needing tubes.

Anyone else have any thoughts?


  1. Blogger JudyBright | 6:00 AM |  

    As far as immunity, I know Catie and Emmitt are two different kids, but Catie had RSV a couple of weeks ago and I did not want her to get an ear infection for obvious reasons.

    I have this Vitamin C powder that I got from Larry's parents :) that I put in every bottle she got and I sprinkled it on her food.

    The only issue that may come from megadoses of Vitamin C is diarrhea. It's excellent for boosting immunity and even kids can handle a few thousand percent of the RDA for a few days.

    Anyway, she recovered much faster than the doctor thought she would and never got an ear infection.

    I can also help if you need some fresh breastmilk if you're just putting it in his ears. ;)

  2. Blogger Jillian Frank | 6:16 AM |  


    Yes to the breastmilk... also, put a few drops in each of his ears a few times a day.

    And yes to the chiro... I work for a chiro who specializes in pregnant women, infants, and children. You'll be amazed at what regular adjustments can do.


  3. Blogger Maria | 6:27 AM |  

    This is a topic near and dear to my heart. My son NEVER was sick until he started daycare at 8.5 months. At that point, he started with the colds and ear infections, and after back to back to back infections, we could not get his ears cleared. I used Garlic/Mullen drops, which worked some, but just when it was almost clear, more fluid came.

    I went to the ENT pushing for them to wait, but after discussing with my husband and noticing reduced hearing in The Boy, we decided to go ahead with the tubes. I am STILL paranoid about how his ears will heal when the tubes come out.

    The anesthesia they administer is scary, yet minimal. My son just had "gas" and was done in 15 minutes. I was a basketcase the entire time!

    Re: dairy. You can get all of the nutrients and vitamins, etc from other food sources, so even if the BM is not good anymore, you can cut out dairy without sacrificing your son's health. (I don't give my son any dairy and don't plan to.)

    Chiropractic care-- this is one thing that worked for us during his first ear infection exceptionally well. After that, it would work and improve the ears for a few days, but they kept filling back up. However, my aunt had a lot of success with chiropractic care and her children's ears.

    The antibiotic vs tubes issue is one I struggled with. Being on antibiotics for that long is not good for the child. Tubes have long term implications to weigh. It's a tough situation.

    Good luck in your decision making.

  4. Blogger Hot Librarian | 6:37 AM |  

    If the breast milk has turned, you might try giving him soy milk (so as to avoid dairy). My daughter thinks soy milk is delish.

    Good luck!

  5. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:16 AM |  

    Garlic/mullein oil is what helped my son's ear infection. You can get it at a natural foods store. The one I bought was labeled "kid's clear ear oil." That, along with cutting out dairy, making sure he didn't get any refined sugars, and upping foods that contained vitamin C and bioflavanoids. He also went through 2 rounds on antibiotics (and got a wicked yeast infection as a result, which we had to battle for 2 months after) and the natural remedies are what eventually cleared him up. I got suggestions like this from the book "Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child."

  6. Anonymous Jenn | 7:28 AM |  

    I hope the other options work and he doesn't need surgery, but as a kid I had horrible ear infections until I had tubes put in my ears (I was 3, maybe 4) at the time and I wish we had done it earlier. The ear infections were incredible painful and the surgery was easy and cured the problem. But the thought of anesthesia scares me too so I get it.

  7. Anonymous Ewokmama | 8:48 AM |  

    My friend's son had a dairy sensitivity while breastfed and the only symptom was recurring ear infections. Definitely worth cutting out dairy products. (You can replace with goat to make it easier.)

  8. Blogger Anna | 10:24 AM |  

    I agree with the others who suggested putting a few drops of breastmilk in his ear a couple times a day (assuming it hasn't turned).

    Since he's on antibiotics again, you may want to introduce some foods that are good sources of probiotics, since antibiotics kill off the good bacteria along with the bad. Upping vitamin C is a good idea as well.

    Unfortunately, the best sources of natural probiotics are dairy based (natural cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk are the best sources). I believe you can find supplements in health-food stores, but I'm not as familiar with those.

    I completely understand your fear of general anesthetic. Jonny had to have major dental work done when he was 2.5, and holding him while he went under just tore me up. I still get teary just thinking about it.

  9. Blogger Ahmie | 10:32 AM |  

    i had tubes in my ears as a kid and STILL wound up with ear infections every 3-4mo (still get them at age 31). i don't bother treating them anymore, they resolve just as quickly without treatment for me.

    the only time i went longer than 4mo between infections was when i was getting regular chiropractic adjustments, 2x/wk, of my neck. expensive and time consuming and i didn't feel like it wound up being worth the time out of my schedule.

    calms forte for kids has a lot of the same homeopathic ingredients recommended for ear infections, that's what i gave my firstborn when he had an ear infection, no antibiotics have ever gone into him and he's 3.5yrs old.

    be careful with the breastmilk - if it IS a dairy trigger and you weren't dairy-free when it was pumped, it'll still trigger it even if you don't let him have cow milk. if you want to substitute plant milk for animal/human milk to go totally dairy-free with him, and don't want to do the soy milk, i highly recommend diamond brand unsweetened almond milk. i'm drinking it because del seems to be a little dairy sensitive (spits up more if i've had too much dairy). i like it in my cereal and coffee/tea, i've not been one to drink straight milk for a while now so not sure how it tastes straight up. trader joe's sells it for $2/quart, it's $2.79/quart at the other health food stores i've looked for it. my chiropractor friend is going dairy-free because her babe seems to be sensitive, i'm planning to experiment with "ice cream" recipes with it in the coming months. if they turn out well i'll share. i've got several vegan friends and a gluten-free family in my local social network so trying to find something that is yummy for all.

  10. Anonymous Karen | 10:51 AM |  

    There's an outpatient procedure--no general anesthesia--called OtoLAM. It was developed in the late 90's.


    I couldn't find out any current info on who's doing it.

  11. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 11:11 AM |  

    Thanks Karen! I'll check in on that one.

  12. Blogger Ashley Benz | 1:08 PM |  

    Sometimes we use this product in the clinic:


    Basically it clears out the eustachian tubes (which become blocked when a child has an ear infection.) It's an expensive $200 (without insurance) to buy but you may be able to find a clinician with one.

    If it turns out that he needs the surgery, I understand your concern. Anesthesia and kids scares me, too, but the actual surgery is nothing bad.

  13. Anonymous yogamom | 1:36 PM |  

    There are acidophilus supplements available for infants and children (for during the antibiotic use). My naturopath had me put the kids (3 years and 1 year) on it since I'm so yeast sensitive and my DD seems to be following in my footsteps. I found a couple of different brands at Whole Foods Market. My NP recommended Babydophilus, although I didn't see that specific one at WF.

  14. Blogger evil cake lady | 4:09 PM |  

    jennifer, what hellomrzebrans suggested is exactly what i suggest for kids like emmitt. plus, there are plenty of probiotic supplements you can give him without resorting to giving him more dairy--just check the refrigerated section of a natural foods grocery store. i would also suggest avoiding soy as it can be just a phlegm producing as dairy in some cases. almond or rice milk would be safer bets.

    tubes can be definitely be helpful but here's a story of warning: a friend of mine had the tubes when she was kid, and she's got scar tissue in her ears from them. it turns out she's gluten intolerant and that's why she got so many infections as a child. she still gets really bad ear infections to this day (at age 36) if she gets really run down. so she uses her ears as a barometer of her health--when they start to ache she knows its time to slow down and take care of herself.

    hope this helps and all the best to Emmitt--I hope he heals safely and quickly.

  15. Blogger Kristina | 11:14 PM |  

    If you haven't tried highland's homeopathic earache tablets yet, they might be of some help:


  16. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:05 AM |  

    You need to have his ears/ENT system completely flushed. It's not a pleasant experience, and the kid feels like he's drowning for a few seconds, but it's a necessity. My MD friend usually makes the parents leave the room, just so there are no interruptions. There's no other way to clear out his system.

  17. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:24 PM |  

    I have had the ear tube surgery. According to my parents, I had a large number of ear infections as a child, mostly due to allergies.

    All of the infections caused me to be pretty close to deaf. After a series of surgeries (I had tubes put in 6 times) and a lot of testing, my hearing came back.

    I have not had an ear infection in years, either. My hearing is also pretty good. So, for me, the surgery was a positive thing.

  18. Anonymous Holly | 7:08 PM |  

    If you want to give him a probiotic without using dairy, just buy some Culturelle or Florastor Kids. Actually, Florastor Kids would probably be better, since it's made esp. for children. My son takes it every day because he does not eat food and needs it to form normal gut flora. It comes in little packets of powder, and you just empty it into something he's eating or drinking.

  19. Blogger Shay | 10:33 PM |  

    After 15 ear infection, the last one taking 3 scripts to get rid of my son got tubes at just shy of 14 months. We tried Garlic oil,breastmilk in the ear etc but it didn't keep it away, it helped but they just kept coming back.

    My husband has hearing damage as a result of too many ear infections as a kid.

    From the time I handed my son to the nurse to the time the doctor called us back to tell us it was done was 11 minutes. I didn't even have time to drink the cup of tea I'd make myself in the family waiting room. They used gas, it was quick, he was awake in 20 minutes. Nursed got a cookie, we got our release info and left. We were there and home again in about 3 hours.

    I hope it doesn't come to this but it's really not as bad as I built it up to be, being a scared mama.

    Hopefully it works. :)

  20. Blogger sajmom | 11:33 AM |  

    I was just researching this the past couple of days-my 6 year old suddenly has an ear infection in both ears(after only ever having one once before in her life). What apparently help with pain and any swelling if the infection has spread at all is heat. People recommend all kinds of ways to apply heat(heat oil, heat a mix of crushed garlic, hold a hair dryer by the ear, etc.) I used a heating pad for her to lay on, also sucessfully used a cloth with boiling water poured over it and then folded it. She said it felt better. I also squeezed a fresh lemmon, just a few drops into each ear and held them there for a little. She didn't enjoy this but admitted that it did help with the pain, and gave some "popping" in her ears (the wax breaking down, I believe). I wanted to avoid antibiotics if at all possible, they rarely work and do mess with your body, even if you eat lots of yogurt to replace bacteria lost. Lemmon naturally has antinacterial properties(ever notice it burns when you get it on a cut). Garlic does too, which is why it shows up in so many home remedies. Anyway, it's worth looking into natural cures. (PS. Largly they do recommend changes in diet to keep it away permanantly.)

  21. Anonymous Laura C. | 11:59 AM |  

    Hi, ear infections run in our family and I rarely have take my kids in to the doctor for them. As soon as I notice them tugging at their ears I start putting essential oils in them. The mixture I use is Tea Tree, Lavender, and Rosemary oils but you could also use Chamomile or Garlic if thats what you have(though the Tea Tree is the best). I use two to three drops of each oil in 1Tb of carrier oil like Almond or Olive oil. I usually use Olive oil because it's what I have on hand. To administer the drops put three drops in the childs ear about 3-5 times a day. This has worked so well for us and it's so easy. The measurements don't have to be exact and neither does the amount you give them. I can't get my 17mom. old to sit still enough for me to count the drops so I just squirt a good amount in there and let it drain in a little before I let him up. I also love the chiropractic idea especially for fluid in the ears and the breastmilk works well to though I've personally never tried it in ears.

  22. Anonymous beru | 2:47 PM |  

    I work for an ENT. You know the adage, "If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." It's routine for an ENT to put in tubes. It's not something he/she is going to try hard to resist.

    If your son's ears are not actively infected, I wouldn't give him antibiotics. If the doctor told me "it looks like it's going to get infected", I would say "Then I'll make an appointment for 2 days and you can check again". Fluid in the ear that persists after an infection is not a big deal. I would only give antibiotics if my child had a red bulging ear and a fever. 16 out of 17 ear infections heal on their own so the only benefit of the antibiotics in those 16 cases is that it speeds up the process, hence lessening the pain more quickly. If the child has no pain or only a little discomfort, I don't think it is worth it. Also, 10-20% of kids still have fluid in their ears 3 months after an ear infection so I wouldn't get tubes that quickly if the child is not having "painful" infections.

    A lot of people, including doctors, call every inflamation of the ear an "infection" even when there is clear uninfected fluid in there. That fluid is not a problem unless it severely interferes with hearing.

    I don't really have a clear message or advice. I just wanted to share what I know. Most of my info came from a peer-reviewed review of ear infection studies I read when I did a paper about it in college. I can find it if you want. It was written by a doctor Klein who was very easy to read even though it was an academic paper.

  23. Anonymous lovebeingamommy | 1:36 PM |  

    ok. chiro is a good option. my chiro gave my sister (for $7) homeopathic eardrops. she said that although antibiotics do kill the bacteria the dead bacteria is left there for the new bacteria to feed on.

    so the homeopathic eardrops are: Bio/chem Research Ear Drops: with citricidal and tea tree oil
    ingredients listed on back: vegetable glycerine, alcohol, Citricidal brand grapefruit extract 0.5% and tea tree oil. (how natural is that?) the chiro said it works awesome!

    also she and another chiro said that its very important to pull down on the earlobe and wiggle it while youre doing it to keep the inner ear drained (try it on yourself to get the technique down). my chiro likes to go around the edge of the ear from the top down saying "chugga chugga chugga choo-choo" and it actually works.. even though my 9 month old doesnt really know much about trains he likes the sound effects and lets me drain his hears that way. i just did it today in fact because he's sick and after i did it he kept opening his mouth wide like he was trying to get the fluid out himself.

    hope it works for you. i hate the thought of tubes too! (ps love your blog - and i noticed it was a footnote in the newest Mothering Magazine - way cool!)

  24. Blogger Darlene | 5:51 PM |  

    Awww, Jen. Those ear infections are so tough to conquer in some kids.

    My 21 month old grandson just had tubes put in about 3 weeks ago after numerous rounds of ear infections-antibiotics-ear infections. My daughter said it wasn't NEARLY as bad as she feared (she, too, was really skittish about the anesthesia) and the little guy was just sleepy for the rest of the day. Within about 6 hours though, he was up and running around as normal. I had the pleasure of seeing him 2 days later and he was just fine. Apparently, in a year or so, they'll just come out on their own and the ear drum just heals. She's so relieved to know he's not likely to suffer from those infections again.

    I wish you and your liitle one the best and know you'll make the right choices.

  25. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:09 PM |  

    In about 1/3rd of all chronic ear infections, food allergies are the underlying problem. Usually dairy, then wheat or eggs. Not all food allergies are anaphylactic in nature. Some are so "mild" that the only symptom is low-grade, chronic inflammation. One that could make the Eustachian tubes smaller, inhibit proper drainage and thereby give the bacteria that cause ear infections the perfect place to breed and thrive.

    You've received excellent advice on the garlic/mullein drops, probiotics, etc.. Personally, I would look at grapefruit seed extract first (as an ear drop remedy). Hospitals use this extract in their laundry as it completely wipes out bacteria, leaving their linens sterilized. Grapefruit seeds don't decompose well in nature...as no bacteria can survive in or around it.

    Another issue is the antibiotics. They rarely work on ear infections...or rather, they don't work any better than a placebo. Plus, they destroy the beneficial flora in your gut, further suppressing the immune system. That makes a child even more susceptible to recurring ear infections. It's a vicious circle. Probiotics can help support immune function while killing off the bad bacteria. It's a good option.

    Chiros can help as can cranio-sacral therapists.

    I can understand your concern. Why use a sledgehammer to "fix" something when a fly swatter will do? lol!

    I hope you find a route of therapy that not only works, but that you are comfortable with.



  26. Blogger Derek | 8:34 AM |  

    I don't have much to add to the great points people have made thus far.

    I would just like to mention the EarPopper is now available with a prescription at major pharmacies and may be covered by insurance.

    The device has excellent clinical results and is a great alternative to tubes or antibiotics.

    Please visit our website for more information www.earpopper.com.

    Derek Lidbom
    EarPopper Sales

  27. Blogger Walabio | 12:12 AM |  

    Homeopathy is pseudoscience.

  28. Anonymous Walabio | 12:36 AM |  

    I was so taken by homeopathy that I responded without reading all of it. I see that you also believe that chiropractic cures infections. It does not. It also cannot cure cancer. Just remember that newage rhymes with sewage.

  29. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 4:52 AM |  


    Nope, allowing your body the freedom to move as it's supposed to...that couldn't possibly help ANYTHING.

    And those studies? The ones that actually show the many areas in which chiropractic is beneficial to people? Those are all big fakes. Even the peer-reviewed ones published in medical journals. :)

    Chiropractic is not an alternative to true medical treatment, when true medical treatment is needed, but it often works side by side to aid healing.

  30. Anonymous Susan | 9:04 AM |  

    I know you're already getting chiropractic work set up, but if you are interested in something a little more gentle, Craniosacral therapy can be *awesome* for ear problems. It's somewhat of a cross between gentle chiropractic/massage and energy work.

    I had a classmate get a minor adjustment in class because she was having ear problems and within 15 minutes after the treatment she felt her ear drain. I know it's just anecdotal evidence, but it's another option I though I could throw out there.


  31. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:53 AM |  

    Both of my children have had tubes. I just wish I hadn't waited as long as I did with my first. Neither child has had an infection since. I personally think tubes are a much better option than repeating antibiotic after antibiotic. As for the anesthesia, they both received a gas mask - nothing intravenous. The procedure took maybe 10 minutes total.

  32. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:50 AM |  

    Allergies/immunity are obviously linked. I would start with elmimnating dairy but there could be other food allergies.

    Our kids are grown, but a friend's son had tubes in his ears, still had ear infections and was told that he would have to be on maintnance antibiotics (for years). The mom worked with an elimination diet to find out what he was allergic to, put him on a restricted diet for a while and no more ear infections.

    My kids got repeated strep infections; pretty much the same story, except we had additional help from a wholistic MD/allergist/pediatrician.

    It is important to reduce stress for the child and in the household too, as it creates a strain on the immune system.

  33. Anonymous Lisa- Unschooling Mom | 5:53 PM |  

    This is what happened to my now 10 year old. She went on a 2 month course of antibiotics before tubes .. in tubes and ears dig clear up- but her adult teeth were ruined by the drugs. had I known this would be an issue I would have insisted on tubes. The issue was "speech" development and the constant fluid in her ears impairing hearing.
    I don;t know how much that really played a part. I know she has tiny er drums with curve and that was problem.. she has been plagued with problems that she is just now outgrowing.

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