Homeopathy for Ear Infections in Children
Every year, more than 10 million children in the United States, mostly between the ages of six months and three years, are treated for ear infections. Conventional medicine treats ear infections with bacteria-killing antibiotics. Antibiotics can be ineffective for treating most ear infections, however, because they are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics will also bring down a fever, which delays the body’s ability to fight off the infection.
While some children do not experience complications after an ear infection, others end up with repeated cases that do not respond to conventional treatment. This is because these treatments fail to change the underlying cause of the ear infections, and antibiotics do nothing to strengthen the body’s immune system. Homeopathic treatments for ear infections can do both. According to homeopathic theory, homeopathy strengthens the body’s resilience so it can better fight off infections and inflammatory conditions. Research conducted on homeopathy demonstrated that the treatments were at least as effective as conventional medical care, and more effective than placebos.
Homeopathic Remedies for Ear Infections
A homeopath will use the child’s symptoms as a guide to select the best remedy. Symptoms and their remedies are listed below, and the remedies should work within a short amount of time. If the pain is not resolved within 24 hours, call the child’s physician to prevent the possible risk of permanent hearing loss.
- When an earache produces intense pain, fever close to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, a beet-red face, a bright red outer ear, dilated pupils, hot and moist skin except at the extremities, or pain extending down the neck, Belladonna is used. Infections usually occur in the right ear at either 3 p.m. or 3 a.m.
- During the winter, when a child has been exposed to a dry, cold wind, feels fine when going to bed but wakes up around midnight screaming with pain, with a fever up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, Fulminant might bring relief. The child will appear restless, thirsty and hot all over with violent, burning pain and an extreme sensitivity to touch.
- If pain appears severe and gets worse when bending over, and the child is angry, irritable, obstinate and whiny, the skin is hot and moist and there is a clear nasal discharge, Chamomilla is prescribed. The child might have a red face and a fever below 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Chamomilla also helps when the earache occurs with teething.
- To soothe the inflammation and pain of an ear infection when symptoms first appear, use Ferrum phosphoricum. The child will appear pink and flushed; there is a fever and a feeling of weariness; and the outer ear, usually on the left side, is warm and pink. Ferrum phosphoricum should prevent the formation of pus.
- If pain is sharp and severe, discharge from the ears and nose is thick or colored, and the child is irritable and desires warmth, a good choice is Hepar sulphuris calcareum.
- For swollen glands and nasal congestion in a child with a blocked Eustachian tube, use Kali muriaticum.
- For advanced ear infections with pus forming in the middle ear, shooting pain and roaring in the ear, pain that is worse in warmth and during the night, drooling and sweating while sleeping, puffiness of the tongue and bad breath, a homeopath might prescribe Mercurius solubilis.
- When an ear infection occurs after a child comes down with a cold, or it comes on gradually and includes a moderate fever, the child might get better with Pulsatilla. Generally, the ear is hot and swollen, a yellow-to-green thick discharge comes from the nose and ears, and pain is worse at night and when exposed to warmth. The ear infections usually appear on the right side, the temperature is less than 103 degrees Fahrenheit, the child has no thirst and does better with a cold compress. A child needing this remedy craves affection and is tearful and clingy.
- The final stages of an earache might be characterized by chills, pain behind the ear, sweating from the head, hands or feet, and physical weakness. This is the time to use Silica.
- Following ear surgery, provide the child with Arnica to reduce inflammation surrounding the tube and help the body adjust to the new tube.
With a variety of homeopathic remedies available for treating ear infections, a practitioner might suggest one type, and if it doesn’t create a response in the body after the first dose, the practitioner will select another. Because treatments are so highly individualized, each person will respond differently and within different periods of time.
A homeopathic practitioner will gather a wide variety of information about a child with a pattern of ear infections. The homeopath will examine the body as a whole for underlying causes of ear infection, and will explore the child’s emotional mindset and constitution. All of this information is considered when a homeopathic doctor chooses a remedy.
Symptoms of Ear Infections
Babies and toddlers will pull, rub or hit on their ears or get fussy and cry when they have ear infections. Sometimes, though, a child might simply become irritable and run a high fever. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that recurring ear infections that impede hearing may slow speech and learning development.
Causes of Ear Infections
Ear infections often result from colds or upper respiratory infections, and ear infections sometimes are accompanied by runny nose, sore throat and coughing. The ear has three parts: the outer, middle and inner ears. The middle ear is connected to the throat and nasal cavity through a tube that allows excess secretions to drain out of the ear. If the tube is not draining properly, secretions build up in the middle ear, putting pressure in the ear, which often becomes infected. In infants and young children, the tube is horizontal rather than vertical, so less drainage occurs. Fluids can collect, creating an environment for bacterial growth. As a child grows, the tube begins to curve downward, allowing fluids to drain more easily.
If the child does not improve within 24 hours, call a pediatrician.
A variety of studies on homeopathic treatments for ear infections.
Riley D, Fischer M, Singh B, Haidvogl M, Heger M., "Homeopathy and conventional medicine: an outcomes study comparing effectiveness in a primary care setting" J Altern Complement Med. 2001 Apr;7(2):123-5.
"Childhood Ear Infections" by Janet Zand, L.Ac., O.M.D.