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8 great remedies for earaches

As the seasons
change and children go back to school, parents will likely find their children
getting sick more often than during the summer months. Earaches are the most
common reason that American parents seek medical care for their children, amounting
to 30 million visits per year. These visits account for 30% of all visits to
pediatricians and represent a cost of over $3.5 billion.1

Antibiotics often unnecessary
Doctors often prescribe antibiotics for earaches, and yet, numerous studies have
seriously questioned their efficacy. Many earaches are caused by viruses and
allergies, for which antibiotics are not effective. One researcher analyzed 27
studies on the effectiveness of several antibiotics used in the treatment of
otitis media (middle ear infection) and published it in the Journal of the
American Medical Association
.2 He concluded that of every nine
children taking antibiotics for acute otitis media, only one showed improvement.
And of every six patients receiving antibiotic treatment for otitis media with
effusion (fluid in the ear), one improved.
     A leading researcher of childhood ear infections
has asserted, "There is no evidence that antibiotics are effective in treating
acute otitis media or chronic otitis media with effusion. And there is clear
evidence that antibiotics are harmful."3
     Another common treatment for children with chronic
otitis media is the insertion of ear-tubes. However, the Journal of the American
Medical Association
published a large study of 6,611 children under 16 years
of age for whom physicians had recommended ear-tubes. The researchers concluded
that ear-tubes were clearly not warranted for 25% of the children, and for another
30% of them, the risks equaled the benefits.4

When to get help
Parents can often treat their child's earache effectively at home with common
homeopathic medicines. However, professional homeopathic care should be sought:
•     if your child has had recurrent earaches
•     if your child has any other chronic or serious
ailment
•     if the earache is severe
•     if the earache or mild hearing loss has lasted
longer than one or two weeks
•     if there is any sudden, significant decrease
in hearing.
Homeopaths commonly find that children respond well and rapidly to homeopathic
medicines. Generally, the stronger the pain, the more rapidly the correct homeopathic
medicine will heal.

Remedies for earaches
Read about each of the following remedies. Determine which pattern of symptoms
most closely resembles the symptoms that your child is experiencing. These remedies
and their descriptions are not meant to be comprehensive, and you are encouraged
to obtain one or more homeopathic guidebooks to improve the results of your prescribing.
     Aconite. Consider this remedy at the initial
onset of ear symptoms. The external ear is usually hot and painful. These children
feel throbbing pain after exposure to cold, and they are hypersensitive to noise
and music. A fever generally accompanies the ear infection, and they may also
have a dry cough and a congested nose. They tend to have increased thirst.
     Belladonna. This commonly prescribed remedy
for children with ear infection fits a child with noticeably reddened ear, ear
canal, or eardrum, and sometimes a flushed face. There is a sudden onset of symptoms,
sometimes after getting a haircut or after being exposed to a cold draft. Usually
the right ear is affected more than the left. The pains are throbbing, piercing,
shooting, sharp, and sometimes extend to the throat. These pains are worse from
motion and at night, and better when sitting semi-erect and with warm applications.
There may also be stinging in and around the ears. These children may concurrently
have a fever, often a high fever, with a hot and sore throat, and swelling of
the throat glands. The ear pain may extend to the throat. These children can
be agitated, and in extreme cases, they may become delirious and will bite and
scream. Belladonna is not commonly used if the child has had an earache for more
than three days.
     Chamomilla. Children who need this common
remedy for ear infection seem to experience great pain and are extremely irritable
because of it. They demand things but refuse them once they are offered. They
are impatient and cannot be consoled. They are very sensitive to touch, though
temporarily relieved by being rocked or carried. The pains are aggravated by
exposure to cold air, especially cold wind. The ear infection sometimes results
from being exposed to cold. The tearing pains in the ear may cause the child
to cry, usually loudly. The ears feel stuffed up, and there may be buzzing in
them. Infants may experience an ear infection like this when they are teething.
     Ferrum phosphoricum. Like Aconite and Belladonna,
this remedy is appropriate at the first stages of inflammation. Unlike these
other remedies, children who need Ferrum phos have a slower onset of illness
and lower intensity of symptoms. Their earache is most often experienced on the
left side.
     Hepar sulph. This remedy is often used when
there are no other distinguishing symptoms except physical and psychological
hypersensitivity. The ears are extremely sensitive to touch and to cold, and
pain may be relieved by heat and warm applications. The child is also emotionally
touchy, irritable, and tends to throw tantrums. Their ear pain usually feels
sharp, sometimes with splinter-like pains, and the ear discharge is offensive
smelling. The child may concurrently have a dry, perhaps croupy cough.
     Mercurius. This remedy is most common for
children with chronic ear infections, though it is also used for some acute earaches.
There is sometimes much pus and a gluey, burning, and offensive-smelling discharge
that is green or sometimes yellow (a concurrent cold or eye infection may also
have a greenish discharge). The pain and discharge is worse at night and from
the warmth of a bed. There may be ringing or pulsations in the ear, and the ear
pain tends to extend from the throat to the ear. They may concurrently have a
sore throat with swollen glands and bad breath. There may be various kinds of
ear pain: burning, bursting, pinching, pressing, or shooting pain which will
be aggravated from hot or cold applications, warmth of a bed, or stooping, but
relieved by blowing the nose. These children tend to have a stopped-up sensation
in their ear and may also have eruptions behind the ear. Copious salivation may
wet these children's pillows, and profuse perspiration may dampen their sheets.
Two different types of Mercurius are useful if the above description fits, but
the child's earache is decidedly one-sided: use Mercurius iodatus flavus if the
earache is right-sided or Mercurius iodatus ruber if left-sided.
     Pulsatilla. This extremely common remedy
for ear infections may be indicated when the earache starts after the child has
gotten wet or been chilled. The ear problem often comes with or after a cold.
Ear pains are worse at night and when the child is warm in bed, and some relief
is experienced from cool applications. These children do not usually experience
much ear pain in the daytime. If there is a discharge, it is thick and bland,
yellow or greenish. The child may have a stopped-up sensation in the ear, and
a sore throat, cough, or fever may accompany the earache. Although they may not
be thirsty, they may want some cold drinks and be averse to warm drinks. These
children are gentle, mild, and weepy. Although their pain will make them somewhat
irritable, this irritability is more whiney, not angry or rageful. Likewise,
their crying will be more sweet than sobbing. It will be the type that encourages
parents to hug them. Since these children love sympathy and affection, they are
soothed by the attention their parents give them. They also are relieved by being
rocked.
     Mullein oil (Verbascum). This herbal remedy
is applied externally by placing a few drops of the tincture or oil directly
in the ear. It can be used in conjunction with homeopathic remedies if it is
indicated. It is primarily useful when the child experiences pain with a sense
of obstruction. The ear canal is dry and scaly. It should not be given if there
is any ear discharge.

Dose
If you are confident that the homeopathic remedy clearly fits the symptoms of
the child, consider giving a 30C or 30X potency. If you are less confident, give
the 12C, 12X, 6C, or 6X potency. If the symptoms are strong, consider giving
the remedy every two hours. If the symptoms are mild, consider giving it every
four hours at first and then four times a day. Stop once there is an obvious
improvement in the symptoms. It is rarely necessary to take a remedy for earache
for more than three days. If some type of improvement is not observed after 24
hours, consider selecting another remedy or consulting a practitioner.

Check your ears ...
Because conventional medical organizations are now encouraging physicians to
avoid prescribing antibiotics at the first stages of ear infections, it makes
sense to learn about and consider using safer alternatives such as homeopathic
medicines. Considering the safety, the speed of treatment, and the reduced number
of recurrences, you may need to have your own ears checked if you do not hear
the message of this article.

References
1.     A.C. Brooks, "Middle Ear Infections in Children," Science
News
, 146, November 19, 1994, 332-333.
2.     R. Williams, et al., Journal of the American
Medical Association
, 270, September 15, 1993: 1344-1351.
3.     E. Cantekin, The Case Against Aggressive,
Expensive, and Ineffective Treatment of a Benign Disease: Comments on the Clinical
Practice Guidelines on Otitis Media
. Report submitted to the US Congress
and the Department of Health and Human Services. 50, 1994.
4.     Reported in Science News, November 19,
1994. 332.

About the author:
Dana Ullman, MPH, is a leading spokesperson for homeopathic medicine. He has
authored eight books, including Essential Homeopathy, Homeopathy A-Z,
and The Consumer's Guide to Homeopathy. His company, Homeopathic Educational
Services, has published 30+ books on homeopathy. He serves in an advisory and/or
teaching capacity at alternative medicine institutes at Harvard, Columbia, and
University of Arizona schools of medicine. He is an NCH Advisory Board member
and has coordinated the NCH Annual Conference program for 16 years.