Kids that Scream in the Night: Homeopathic Treatment for Ear Infections
By Todd A. Hoover, MD, DHt
Otitis Media or ear infections are one of the most common reasons a child will need to see the Doctor this winter. The most common treatment is to use antibiotics, but some recent studies in Holland and the US have shown that this may not be the best course. In fact, these studies have suggested that children who do not get antibiotics actually develop fewer recurrences of infections compared to those who were treated. However, it is well known that certain children with untreated infections may go on to develop more severe infections including mastoiditis and meningitis.
Because of this data, many physicians are adopting a "watchful waiting" approach to ear infections---choosing to treat only those children who do not spontaneously recover or who show signs of worsening. With the tools of Homeopathy, we can take that approach one very important step further. Appropriately chosen homeopathic remedies can make a dramatic difference for children with otitis. Let me give you a few examples of children I have seen recently.
A 7 month old boy presents with extreme irritability, fever, pulling at his right ear, and loose stools for the past day. Mom is distraught because he would not sleep last night. He wanted to be held, walked, rocked; yet still he cried in discomfort. Nothing would please him. He would nurse, then pull away. He has been teething for the past month with some minor discomfort periodically, but this is much worse. In the office he is screaming one minute and quiet the next. He squirms and cannot settle down. His cheeks are red and his right ear exam shows an infection. Homeopathic Chamomilla 30c was given to the child with an obvious improvement in disposition within five minutes. He required another dose that night, and the ear infection subsequently cleared nicely.
A 2 year old girl comes into the office for persistent runny nose for the past week. The nasal discharge has been white and yellow, worse in the morning. Today, her left eye was goopy when she woke up. Last night she was very restless in her sleep, and needed to spend the majority of the night with her parents which helped her sleep. She has a low-grade fever and complains of left ear pain. In the office, she sits in her mother's lap with her head burrowed into mom's chest. Occasionally, she glances out to me but then quickly hides again. During the exam, she is weepy, but not combative. I feel sympathetic for her and hope I can help her feel better. Her left ear is infected on exam. Pulsatilla nigricans 30c is prescribed. The mother reports that her daughter slept better that night, and the next day only a slight nasal discharge remained. Within 2 days she was back to her cheerful self.
A 5 year old boy has a long history of ear infections in the past. Now he has developed a high fever within the last day. He has a sore throat, headache and severe pains in his right ear. He has been tired and mostly resting on the couch with the fever as high as 104. He does not want to eat or drink. He has been flushed, but no sweats or chills. On exam, he has a red face as if it were full of blood. He is tired and a bit irritable. The throat is bright red and his right ear is infected. A Strep test of the throat is negative. Belladonna 30c is prescribed. His fever, ear pain and sore throat responded promptly.
As you can see, each child had the exact same diagnosis (ear infection) yet presented in very different ways. Therefore, a different Homeopathic treatment was prescribed for each according to the entire picture of the symptoms, rather than the diagnosis. Other remedies that have frequently been used in the treatment of ear infections include the following.
Mercurius vivus or solubilis for the patient with fever, sweats, thick nasal discharge, sore throat, and sometimes drooling. The child frequently appears quite ill and can be very irritable. The sweats can be foul smelling and do not relieve the fever.
Aconitum Napellus is useful at the onset of the infection for the patient who becomes suddenly ill. Sudden onset of chills, followed by intense fever. The patient can be very restless and anxious. If they have ear pain, it tends to be sharp, piercing and intense.
Hepar Sulphuris Calcarea is given for infections associated with tendency toward pus. Nasal discharges that are cloudy, fluid behind the eardrum, and fever. The child is very irritable, especially when touched, looked at, or when exposed to cold air. He may strike out in anger. Frequently these children will have croupy cough as well.
In Homeopathy, there are literally hundreds of remedies to choose from for any given problem. Do not dismay! The six remedies listed above are the most frequently used for acute ear infections. For acute problems, give remedies in a 6c or 30c potency as needed according to the symptoms. Generally, 30c may be given 1 to 3 times per day for ear infections. Some children respond very well and may need only one dose. My experience is that approximately 90% of ear infections can be treated successfully with homeopathic medicines. However, care should be coordinated with your doctor; and if your child is becoming progressively more ill, seek immediate medical attention for their safety.
Previously Published: Homeopathy Today
Additional information on Homeopathic Medicine and Optimal Wellness
available from Todd A. Hoover, MD, DHt 610 667-2138