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How My 5 Year-Old Son Cured His Own Ear Infection…In Less than 24 Hours

How My 5 Year-Old Son Cured His Own Ear Infection…In Less than 24 Hours

Its difficult to live in a different country, I’m not going to tell you it isn’t. Maybe the difficulties are part of the fun of it for me – turning everyday routines into grand adventures. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my blog for Grocery Geeks.) There’s really a natural high involved in taking a city that I don’t know very well and learning its nuances, and even, maybe, possibly, finding a niche there.

Some of it however, feels less like a natural high and more like a natural disaster. Less in the category of bungee-jumping type adventure and more in the category of dental surgery type adventure, is when my son wakes up in a foreign country with an ear ache.

… Rewind to 3 nights ago to get the full effect…

My son has always been prone to ear infections. His ear infections inspired the Mommy’s ER series, and from that perspective I am grateful for them. I’m also familiar with them, and what to do for them – although he really had not had one in many years now. Still, at 3am on a pre-dawn paris weekend morning when he woke up with an earache, I was TERRIFIED. I had done my due-diligence, I knew the names of some English-speaking doctors here, but at 3am? The first thing I could think of was to rush him to some clinic, any clinic (even a veterinary clinic!) to inject him up with something to take the pain away. So much for natural remedies, I needed help, and fast.

It was my son, in his pain, that reminded me that, perhaps, I knew a little bit more about what to do in this situation than my 3am culture-shocked brain cared to remember. He didn’t care to give me the space for my panic attack. He wanted an even quicker, simpler solution. ‘Mommy, press!’ He stuck out his hands and feet for some acupressure to take the pain away (check out the segment on earaches for a visual of the points I used), and all of the remedies I suggest during the daylight came back to me. Here is what, with a little prodding, I ultimately remembered to do:

1. start with the easiest, least invasive solution. In this case, massaging points at his feet and near his ring finger put him back to sleep in under 10 minutes. I also had garlic in the kitchen and olive oil. 1-2 cloves, heated in the oil then cooled to near room temperature provided us with topical relief – 2 drops in the affected ear did the trick, and had the antimicrobial properties to potentially kill unwanted bacteria. We propped him up with an extra pillow to relieve pressure in the ears and encourage drainage. The points around his ear were too tender to touch, but a warm compress could have also have been included. (Because my son had fallen back asleep, we did not proceed to an ER, although I never discourage this idea, particularly if it provides relief and peace of mind – word to the wise, map the route to a 24 hour clinic BEFORE you find a need for it ☺. Also remember, the severity of an ear infection is not necessarily measurable by the amount of pain it is causing – and I’m reminding myself of this, as much as you. )

2. the next morning, all pain was gone, so we pro-actively addressed his immune system and possible tissue inflammation in the ear. We used protease enzymes on his empty stomach to reduce inflammation and break down mucous, a probiotic with acidophilus to support his system’s ‘good’ bacteria (the good can control the growth of any ‘bad’ bacteria and also supports strong immune function). We also continued with his daily DHA (in the form of Nordic Naturals children’s fish oil supplement) as part of his morning routine. DHA helps to regulate inflammatory response.

3. We used a non-medicated saline spray in his nostrils to thin any mucous (we had seen some drippage the day before – perhaps from a less-than-exemplary pastry indulgence?). This might be his least favorite part, but after watching mommy do it to herself, he was game.

4. We eliminated dairy products and white sugars (dairy can encourage mucous production, particularly in children sensitive to it like my son, and sugar reduces immune function). In other words, no more pastry. At least, not for now.

5. And finally, my son even remembered to ask for it, lymph massage, to drain mucous from the area of the ear. (Check out the earache section for how-to’s or Dadlabs segment on Summer Remedies, where an unsuspecting Daddy Brad gets his own lymph massage).

We continued this routine, giving him protease enzymes 3x/day on an empty stomach for the next 3 days, just as a precaution. His body had let us know something was out of balance, and we continued to heed that message. We also increased his consumption of carrots – the beta-carotene benefits the ears (along with the eyes and liver). I had brought the enzymes as part of my travel kit (check out the blog of me frantically putting my natural kids health travel kit together), but the rest of the solutions involved my hands, my kitchen, and the market across the street.

While we have since found an ear doctor (at a more civilized hour of day), no intervention was necessary. It looked like the tail-end of a possible infection, but no need for antibiotics or other treatment beyond what we had been doing already. It had ‘cured itself’, with a nudge here and there from some kitchen and travel kit standbys. Recent studies on children’s ear infections have been yielding interesting results showing that in many cases, ‘watchful waiting’ proves equally effective to a course of antibiotics, especially in children over 2 years old. I’m grateful for antibiotics when necessary, but am grateful too when we can save them for a day when he REALLY needs them, (and won’t be resistant to them already), a day that I hope never arrives.

Now that the pain of the earache is gone, never to return, I can reflect on the process a bit, so please indulge me. The whole experience has given me a new kinship with the natural remedies at my disposal, because they were still right there at my fingertips at 3am, and they made me feel like I had some power to help. And while I have to be very careful with the language I use to describe their effects (I cannot legally claim that nutritional remedies or acupressure ‘cures’), maybe this is the right way to language it anyway, because with natural kids health, the kid has to do the work – we just show their little bodies the way, nudging their immune systems bit by bit. Aidan cured his own ear infection, just by reminding me to do what I do best, and by letting his own body do the rest. He had faith in his body, and maybe in me, even when I had none.

More important than the natural remedies we used, was, as always, the lesson. (don’t you hate it when the universe is smarter than you are?) This is what all the mommys and daddys like you are contending with at your respective 3 o’clock in the morning wake up calls. And while I hope you are able to keep your cool better than I, I’m guessing you don’t always. (right?) If this put me back in touch again with all the other parents out there, if this restamps my membership into the under-appreciated but incredibly elite club known as fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, do-your-best-on-the-fly parenting, then this earache was worth it. Just don’t tell my son that.


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