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
For more by Queen B, click here.
Thank you for this article!!! When my son was a baby-the doctor said he had an ear infection. He had no symptoms-so I did not fill the antibiotic. Both of my children only had antibiotics a couple of times over twenty years-I think the decrease in ear infections is not only vaccines, decrease in smoking, and breastfeeding-but parents and doctors NOT using antibiotics and NOT putting tubes in their babies ears. It is a virus usually after all-Thanks again!
Great Article! Chiropractors are also a big help in helping those ears to drain! When we took my son off dairy and started seeing a chiropractor his ear infections went away. Before that, we did treat most of them naturally and avoided getting tubes. Glad I trusted my instincts.
Thank you for this article. I am wondering about the safety of getting ear tubes. My 19 month old son has fluid constantly in his ears that has not drained for months (plus a winter of back-to-back colds). He still breastfeeds, eats very little dairy, if any, and limited gluten. The doctors have recommended tubes, and we are seeing a chiropractor in the hopes alignment will help reduce inflammation and allow his ears to drain. It’s affecting his hearing, which is why we’re considering the surgery. But I can’t seem to wonder if there isn’t more I can do naturally before we resort to the surgery? I’d love any advice. Thank you!
It breaks my heart when I hear of kids with ear infections because I know that too many kids are “floxed” by ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin or moxifloxacin ear drops. Even though the pills for these dangerous drugs are contraindicated for children, because they cause cartilage lesions and tendon ruptures, the topical applications are given to kids all the time. These drugs, in the fluoroquinolone class, are topoisomerase interrupters. This means that they disrupt the DNA and RNA replication process for bacteria and mitochondria, and that they are chemo drugs masquerading as antibiotics. They’re not amoxicillin – not even close. Truly – they’re chemo drugs.
Here’s a post that I wrote about a couple of studies that have connected topoisomerase interrupting drugs to autism – http://floxiehope.com/2015/04/27/studies-link-topoisomerase-interrupting-drugs-to-autism/
Interestingly, thimerosol is also a topoisomerase interrupter.
Lisa, thanks for your diligence on this topic. I have an article you sent us that I will be contacting you about soon. Apologies that I haven’t gotten to it sooner. I’m really interested in the subject, but haven’t gotten into it enough yet to understand the issues because of the craziness of life lately.
My son had numerous ear infections as well and had surgery to put the tubes in his ears. Shortly thereafter he had another ear infection!
It starts to make me wonder how much PE tubes actually help at all! Thanks for sharing your experience!
I feel the same frustration, but PE tubes are not to prevent ear infections. They just make it so fluid can drain and an ear infection can be treated with drops instead of an antibiotic. I was surprised to learn that they don’t really prevent ear infections when my daughter had them inserted at 8 months.
I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for publishing this article here. I stumbled upon it on a lark, scrolling through my Facebook news feed. My son is approaching 3 with a severe speech delay. He has had many ear infections -there is fluid in his middle ear. We are waiting 8 weeks to see if it drains naturally otherwise his Otologist will recommend ear tubes. I had no idea Mitochondrial Dysfunction existed. As my son may have Autism (displays some signs and we are not ruling it out yet) I am so grateful to have stumbled upon this wealth of knowledge. Thank you for so bravely sharing your story. I have followed the link that leads to the PDF at mitoaction that has the list of suggested testing. You very well may have saved my son from permanent regression or from losing his life. I love my beautiful little boy the way he his. I can’t imagine a life robbed of his laughter and personality. I will look into all of your suggestions.
This response brought tears to my eyes. I really hope that you find the answers you need to keep you children healthy! Please let me know if you have any questions and I will help the best I can.
Excellent article. This observation is very relevant to recent research into autism, and the overuse of antibiotics could have been a causal factor, by destroying gut bacteria. Here is a link to one article, but there are many more, if you just google bacteria and autism. I heard a researcher speak on this recently. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/germs-gut-may-affect-autism-study-finds-n107451
I thought this was a great article. Love reading about mother’s who are realizing the importance of listening to their instincts and who promote research instead of blindly following their doctors and society.
My son was also constantly dealing with ear infections and would have to have a second and third rounds of antibiotics just to get rid of them. It wasn’t until much later that I found out I have a MTHFR gene mutation. With this mutation our bodies have a difficult time detoxifying (among many other things). I may very well have passed this gene on to him and thus the reason for so many infections. As a child I constantly had ear infections and also strep throat. If I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now I would have made many different choices reguarding my family’s health. The one test I would encourage to add would be MTHFR. There are easy ways to get this test done. You can do DNA testing (all you need is saliva) through any place like Ancestry, 23&me etc and then run the raw data you receive through a program like livewello. You will learn all your mutations which can be important because of the way some mutations interact with others.
I’m starting to think we should get kickbacks from 23andme, we recommend it so often around here.
This information is right on. Great advice.
Great article. I would add to be careful seeing an immunologist as some of them use vaccines to test for immunity. My son has PANS and one immunologist we saw wanted to repeatedly give my son Pneumovax shots (and then do titers) to “test” how his treatments would work.
Obviously, we said no.
Good point! How whacked is that?
I wish I had known this 5 years ago! My sweet boy has diagnosed with ear infections and went from weaker to stronger antibiotics as it would not clear up, and I listened to the doctors. He took Tylenol as well, as recommended by the doctor for fever and pain. He got his first vax (12 months) at this time, too. He had a bad reaction and was diagnosed with autism less than a year later. Boy have I cried a lot at my ignorance since then…
I love Thinking Mom’s! You all have a wealth of information, and I thank you for sharing it. My heart truly aches for what has happened to your children, and is happening to the children of this country. In my mind you all are the Rockstars. Thank you for all you do.