So now you are a single parent and while you most likely share custody with your children’s father it is you, the mother, who most likely ends up dealing with most of your children’s health issues (alone). With young children many mothers have had the experience of being awakened by a screaming child who is clearly in pain. You ask your child or touch their ear and realize that it’s probably an ear infection. You try to sooth your child as best as possible until the morning.
Usually you end up sleeping sitting up since being upright as opposed to lying down helps the pressure in your child’s ear. If this is a first occurrence it can be scary and you tend to want to rush to the emergency room. If you are a veteran parent you have learned some lessons along the way. I may be able to give some more pointers.
Ear infections often occur when children are switched from being nursed to drinking cow’s milk or to cow’s milk based formula. Another critical time is when children are teething. The reason for the first scenario is that only 20% of all ear infections are due to bacteria. The other 80% are due to other causes. If your child, like many other children, is allergic to cow’s milk they often get very congested and their mucus membrane in their sinuses and ear canals swell and it can set the stage for an ear infection. The same thing happens when children go through the teething process.
Everything in their mouth, throat and ear canals get swollen and inflamed and ear infections can be a result. Colds, which are caused by viruses can also set the stage for secondary ear infections. Additionally emotional trauma can set off ear infections. While this symptom is more difficult to recognize it can be the easiest to control as long as you remember to keep the disagreements between, or about, you and your Ex to a minimum when your children are present.
Finally, another less known, but very common cause is subluxations (or misalignments) at the upper neck. All of the nerves that control the eyes, ears, nose and throat exit the brainstem between the vertebrae in the upper neck. If there is nerve irritation here, the child can be more prone to developing ear infections.
These misalignments can be caused by birth trauma, falls or other injuries. As chiropractors, we find and gently correct these subluxations in many children with chronic ear infections. I have seen children that have been on 6 courses of antibiotics finally clear up after a few neck adjustments!
So as a parent, think about when the first ear infection started. Was it with the introduction of cow’s milk? If so, you might have a child with an allergy to milk. This can easily be tested by a simple Applied Kinesiology muscle test. If the ear infections occur during teething, massaging the child’s lymph glands to increase the lymph circulation and drainage can be very helpful. We teach parents how to do this at home. A chiropractic exam and some gentle adjustments if needed can make a world of difference.
There are homeopathic remedies that are specific for ear infections. There are drops to take orally and drops to apply to the ear canal for pain. Be cautious not to put drops in your child’s ears without a proper ear exam first, since this is not recommended if there is a rupture of the ear drum.
Antibiotics help if there is a diagnosed bacterial infection, but research has shown that to be only about 20% of all ear infections. The American Pediatric Association’s current recommendations are to not use antibiotics unless the problem has been present for over a week. Antibiotics have been very overused for ear infections and have no effect if the cause is allergies, viruses or spinal misalignments. So next time an ear infection visits your house, you might try the chiropractor first! Or even better, get your child checked before this occurs, to prevent it from happening at all.