When I became a mother for the first time in 2001, I completely relied on my child’s pediatrician to guide me on all medical decisions and never thought to question anything. I was a good little rule follower and followed all of his instructions to a T.
However, when my daughter developed her first ear infection at eight months old and he was quick to write that first prescription for an antibiotic, it gave me pause for the first time. She had already been battling yeast overgrowth in the form of fungal diaper rashes and thrush since she was born, and even though I didn’t fully understand what that meant about her immune system at the time, I remember that mom instinct telling me that a dose of antibiotics wasn’t going to stop this train wreck. I now know that instinct was right. Her immune system was already telling me that something wasn’t right. Her body was already showing signs of Candida overgrowth and I now know that should have been addressed before prescribing more antibiotics.
Lily spent much of the next year on one antibiotic or another for continuous ear infections. This is how the dance would go: She would often be prescribed a less potent one initially and would always have to receive at least a second or third round of a stronger one to even put a dent in the infection. Over that time period, her overall development also began to deteriorate. It was scary to witness, and I felt completely helpless because I thought I was doing everything I could to keep her healthy.
Lily was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism at 25 months old. Soon after diagnosis, we were referred to an ENT for PE tubes. They agreed she needed them not only because of recurrent ear infections, but also because of possible eardrum damage due to the chronic infections. We were hopeful that the tubes would not only stop the ear infections, but would also help with her severe language delay. Although they did seem to help her be more aware of sounds initially, they didn’t help improve her speech overall, and her ear infections continued. By the time she was four years old, she had received three sets of PE tubes, which means three outpatient surgeries where she received rounds of local anesthesia. I will never know how much that contributed to the severity of her autism because autism regression is something that can occur after anesthesia in children with underlying mitochondrial conditions.
Antibiotics should be used sparingly
Mainstream medicine has come to realize over the past several years that while antibiotics do have their place, the overuse can be very detrimental to overall health. Antibiotics not only kill off the bad bacteria contributing to the infection, but the good as well. The more good bacteria that is killed, the more susceptibility there is to gut dysbiois which leads to a multitude of health issues and is extremely common in children with autism.
Why are recurrent ear infections (or any infection) a red flag?
I recently asked Mary Coyle, DIHom, HHP, AADP, who is well known for her work in homotoxicology, what it means when our children suffer from recurrent ear infections or infections of any kind. According to Mary:
In natural healing, it’s always wise to support the normal physiology of the body, and the detoxification system is an important part. The drainage of toxins from their place of origin to their place of excretion occurs in various stages. If the toxins are not fully catabolized via these stages, due to the over-taxed primary organs (such as the liver and kidney), this may result in location infection, inflammation or suppuration, such as otitis media, commonly known as an ear infection.
Once again, it seems that everything comes back to our body’s ability to detoxify!
Steps you can take
- Have IgG and IgA testing done: According to Michael Schmidt, author of Childhood Ear Infections, the most common allergens implicated in ear infection are cow’s milk and dairy products, wheat, eggs, chocolate, citrus, corn, soy, peanuts or other nuts, shellfish, sugar, and yeast. Dairy is the number one contributor to childhood ear problems. Since we’ve removed dairy and gluten from Lily’s diet, she hasn’t had one ear infection in seven years. We did this before having IgG and IgA testing done and it has helped her overall health and well being tremendously
- Give probiotics – Especially if your child has been on multiple antibiotics or is currently taking an antibiotic. This will help build up the good bacteria in the gut and in turn build up the immune system to make them less susceptible to infection.
- Reduce sugar and processed food intake – The diet of many children today averages between 16-17% sugar via sugary drinks, snacks and processed foods when it should ideally be under 5%. Sugar feeds candida and bacterial overgrowth which will lead to more viruses and infections in the body.
- Avoid cigarette smoke
- Supplement with Vitamin C
- See an immunologist – They can do extensive testing for overall autoimmune conditions
Alternatives to antibiotics and over-the-counter painkillers
- Garlic oil in the ears – You can make your own formula or buy over the counter in most health food stores.
- Homepathic ear drops
- Essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus (use with a carrier oil on children under the age of seven)
- Warm compresses behind the ears
- There are a number of homeopathic remedies that can be helpful depending upon symptoms. Belladonna and chamomilla tend to be most helpful in acute situations. If the infection recurs, seek the help of a homeopath who may prescribe a constitutional to reverse the tendency toward ear infections.
Of course if the infection is severe, it is always a good idea to take your child to the pediatrician. But know that you have more power than you think in keeping your child healthy. Never ignore that mama bear instinct about what is best for your baby because 99% of the time, your instinct is right.
~ Queen B
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