I have noticed that childhood illnesses travel in packs. Last month it was a croupy cough. This month’s affliction seems to be ear infections. As a parent, you may be wondering, what’s next?! While childhood illnesses are rarely life threatening, they can be uncomfortable for the children, can lead to sleepless nights for the whole family, and may result in lost work hours. Apart from putting your child in quarantine, here are some ideas to consider:
1) Make sure your child’s hands get washed several times per day.
2) Teach your child how to cough and sneeze into the crook of his/her elbow, which minimizes those germs all over the hands.
3) Feed your child whole foods: steer away from processed foods and make healthy choices for them, such as water instead of sugar-filled juices, fruit, grains, yogurt, and of course, vegetables and lean meats.
4) Supplements: probiotics (acidophilus, etc) are easy to administer, and are a good idea on a regular basis–not just when your child is on antibiotics. My brand of choice is Jarrow. You can buy probiotics that are marketed toward children, or you can open a capsule and pour half of it onto cereal, into yogurt or applesauce. Probiotics have no taste. Just mix them into whatever you choose.
5) Acupuncture, aka Shonishin. I see a lot of children when they are in distress–the ear infection that kept the family awake the night before, or the cough that has lingered for weeks. However, regular, monthly treatments can keep your child from experiencing the worst cold symptoms. For children under about 8 years old a treatment is brief, and involves specific tools such as “rake” and micro needles for pediatric use. I have worked with newborns, toddlers, and kids of all ages, and have found that children respond very quickly to treatment.
Finally, a word on antibiotics for ear infections: in my experience, antibiotics can effectively rid the ear of its infection. However, the fluid and pressure that have built up in the Eustachian tube and behind the eardrum are typically still present. Acupuncture and light massage can help drain the fluid back down the Eustachian tube, thus completing the healing process within your child’s ear.
And, for the adults reading this, have you washed your hands lately?