There’s a good chance I’ll look back on the fall of this year and remember it as The Season My Kids Were Sick. (See this post for the story of Conner’s crazy illness that began with a red, watery eye.) It blows my mind to think that Shane, my oldest, didn’t have any kind of illness at all until he was three years old. And although my oldest three children maybe had one or two ear infections apiece throughout their lives, we never really had to deal with chronic ear infections. Until this fall, of course.
In September, my littles–Logan (3) and Theo (1)–both caught a cold. A few days into his runny-nosed state, Logan complained, “Mama! My ear hurts!” Although, as I said, we’d been blessed with children who didn’t suffer from chronic ear infections (at this point, anyway), my hubby and I had a standard protocol for when they occurred. I’d make an appointment with their pediatrician, obtain a diagnosis, wait a painfully long time at our local pharmacy for the prescription, and administer the antibiotics for the prescribed ten-day course. Dosing out the bubble-gum flavored amoxicillin to my three-year-old was a nuisance, but he actually enjoyed the flavor of the medicine and didn’t seem to have any adverse effects. Still, I didn’t love giving my children antibiotics.
A couple of days later, I was up every one-to-two hours at night with Theo who couldn’t sleep due to the pain in his ears. I brought him to see the pediatrician as well, and he was prescribed amoxicillin like his older brother. Unlike his brother, though, poor Theo suffered from stomach pain and had loads of horrible diapers until the antibiotics were out of his system. (This was in spite of the fact that I was frequently giving him probiotics, as the pharmacist recommended.) My husband and I could not wait until the course of antibiotics was completed.
A month later, shortly after Theo’s first birthday, Logan and Theo came down with another set of colds and ear infections. This time, because the amoxicillin had been administered so recently, they were prescribed a stronger version of the antibiotic called Augmentin. Logan didn’t like the flavor as much as he liked the amoxicillin, but, again, he didn’t really seem to suffer any ill effects from the prescription itself. The antibiotics tore through Theo’s system again, and I found myself thinking (at least a hundred times), This is even worse than the double-ear-infections! One night, after being on the Augmentin for several days, Theo woke up screaming inconsolably. There was nothing we could do to comfort him (not even nursing, which always works). Afraid that something else might be wrong with him, we called the on-call nurse, who called the on-call doctor, and we were advised to take Theo to the Emergency Room. Just as we were about to do so, he finally calmed down and went to sleep, so we decided to postpone our trip to the ER to the next time Theo woke up screaming that night. Thankfully, he slept peacefully the rest of the night.
Even though I was certain the antibiotics were making Theo miserable, I took him back to his pediatrician’s office to make sure something else wasn’t wrong with my little buddy. I was hoping to get a milder prescription or, even better, some suggestions for more natural remedies. A friend had brought my attention to an ear oil available on Amazon that she believed really helped her children with their ear infections. I showed my child’s doctor a photo of the ear oil and asked for her opinion on it. The doctor looked at the photo, shook her head, and told me I’d be wasting my money. She explained that the ear infection occurs behind the eardrum, and the oil would not be able to reach this area so it would be ineffective. When she went on to say there wasn’t anything more natural I could try to prevent or treat ear infections, I became a little suspicious. If she had said, “Well, here are some more natural things you could try, but I can’t guarantee the efficacy of them because of reasons a, b, and c”, that would strike me as being more reasonable. But to not be aware of any natural alternatives? Hmmm… When the ten-day course of Augmentin was done, I literally wanted to throw a party.
And then the boys got sick. Again. Naturally, I panicked. Recent experience had taught me that common colds inevitably lead to ear infections, and I could not deal with Theo having to endure another course of antibiotics. Besides, he had only recently finished the Augmentin. What kind of horror awaited him with the next prescription? Determined to prevent ear infections from setting in, I rolled up my sleeves and started researching and implementing natural remedies.
This post got a little lengthy (Ahem!), so I’m breaking it into two parts. I will share all the details about the natural remedies I tried in Part 2. Spoiler: I am ecstatic to report that since I started using these natural remedies, the boys have had several colds with NO EAR INFECTIONS! Check back here in a few days for Part 2!