It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Your child is in pain, and you suspect an infection. Homeopathy approaches illnesses, such as ear aches and sore throat, in children, in a way that encourages and strengthens their own natural immune resistance.
Acute earaches and sore throats can hurt a lot. The younger the child and the more severe the pain, the more upsetting it can be for parents and child. This is also when your nurturing skills will be called upon, when your ability to be calm and reassuring and comforting may be stretched to the limit. More so, at a time when you feel frightened and powerless, especially if this is new to you; this is your baby’s first illness; or, your child is awfully distressed.
Many parents who turn to their doctors for help are prescribed antibiotics for the infection and tylenol for the pain and to bring the fever down. Unfortunately, antibiotics will only ‘work’ for bacterial infections and since so many colds, coughs, earaches and sore throats are viral in origin, this type of treatment is not going to be effective.
Homeopaths are concerned about the effects of repeated courses of antibiotics, especially on a child’s developing immune system. Because, many cases of infection will subside within 24 hours, especially earache (whatever treatment is given) some doctors are now adopting a wait-and-see policy for children with minor, acute infections and are willing to support parents who choose tender loving care (TLC) and alternative medicine over antibiotics. Many parents are choosing to save antibiotics for when they are really needed because of their concern over side-effects: diarrhoea, thrush, loss of appetite and behavioural changes are all common.
We need to approach such illnesses in our children in a way that encourages their own natural immunity.
Stress & Infection
It is helpful to identify the stress or stresses that led up to your child’s illness as you can then prevent future episodes and/or guide you to a good homeopathic remedy. If, for example, your child tends to get earaches after being out in cold wind then you can help to prevent this type of earache by making sure she wears a hat and scarf in the cold.
Notice whether your child falls ill with a change in the weather, during the damp, cold winter months, or after getting wet in the rain. Many children have repeated infections throughout their teething years, some become ill after an accident or injury, others are vulnerable after (or, even before) every single growth spurt.
A poor diet can be a serious physical distress, if important vitamins and minerals are missing from your child’s diet. A diet high in processed foods, sugar, salt, fats and artificial additives — and, correspondingly low in fruit and vegetables — can all make your child more vulnerable to infection.
The cutting out of dairy products can reduce the production of catarrh (in the nose, or ears) for those who are sensitive to lactose, but it is important that you consult your doctor, or ask for a referral to a nutritionist or allergy specialist, if you suspect that food sensitivity or allergy is contributing to your child’s poor health. Do tread carefully, however, because food sensitivities are a symptom of ill health, not a cause, and cutting out an allergen will not deal with the underlying problem.
Emotional stresses can be the cause of illness even in very small children — such as a shock, a parent’s distress, conflict at home, the arrival of a new baby, the absence of a parent, a separation from their mother, including weaning, going to a child minder, especially a new one or starting school. Illness can be seen as constructive in that it may be the only way a small child can signal for help.
An earache is mostly caused by an infection of the middle ear, a tooth abscess, sinusitis, or a sore throat, and it can be accompanied by a cold and/or fever. There is a build-up of catarrh in the middle ear with a middle ear infection, and it is this which causes pain as it presses against the eardrum.
The only symptom of earache in a baby may be fever and inconsolable crying. They sometimes rub one or both ears, or rub or bang their heads, but these are common symptoms in infants who do not have an infection, so there is no need to be concerned unless fever and distress are also present.
It is not the end of the world if the eardrum perforates with a subsequent discharge from the ear. It will give instant relief from pain and provided your child is in a clean environment, the eardrum will heal well in a couple of weeks with no troublesome consequences. In fact, in Europe (notably, in France) a special instrument is used to pierce the eardrum of kids with a painful middle ear infection, to relieve the pain and enable the pus to drain.
Recent studies have shown that antibiotics are not effective for the treatment of earaches — that they will resolve in the same length of time whether they are given or a placebo (dummy pill). Children who have had antibiotic treatment, however, are more likely to ‘develop’ glue ear (a chronic condition in which catarrh builds up in the middle ear causing some hearing loss) and a tendency to repeated earaches.
Children with glue ear may be offered grommets — minute plastic funnels which are inserted into the eardrum so that the fluid can drain. Whilst children with hearing loss and delayed speech can improve dramatically as a result, it does expose them to the risks of a general anaesthetic and a surgical procedure, albeit a minor one. Afterwards, there is a risk of infection from water getting into the middle ear and the need to have them put back in as and when they fall out. In other words, they don’t deal with the underlying problem.
A sore throat with a fever may be tonsillitis, an infection of the tonsils or glands at the base of the tongue. The function of the tonsils is to protect the throat and lungs from infection. It is no longer fashionable to remove them because, even if they are removed, the same ‘bug’ can produce a sore throat in a different place (pharyngitis, instead of tonsillitis). In any case the tonsils reduce in size after about the age of 12, which is why infections are less common after that age.
The glands in the neck and tonsils become swollen when they are dealing with an infection causing difficulty in swallowing and pain.
A sore throat is hard to diagnose in a small baby. They may cry when they try to take either solids or liquids or both, because swallowing is painful, and the cry may have a hoarse ring.
Constitutional Homeopathic Treatment
A child with recurring infections (including earaches and sore throats) is suffering from a chronic condition. Constitutional homeopathic treatment has a marvelous track record in helping children recover their vitality. There is usually an inherited factor which the professional homeopath can take into account when prescribing as well as other serious stresses such as childhood vaccinations which are now thought to be a major factor in increased childhood infections.
Children with glue ear, and who are prone to convulsions with their fevers and kids with any chronic condition, including allergies, should always be taken for constitutional treatment so that the underlying causes can be dealt with.
When The Tonsils and Adenoids Rebel
Homeopathy is extremely useful in tonsillitis — a common disorder. The tonsils are a pair of sacs, made of lymphatic tissue, located at the back of the throat. They form one of the first lines of defence in the body’s immune system and are, thus, susceptible to infection, especially during childhood.
Tonsillitis symptoms often present as sore or painful throat with fever and general malaise. The tonsils may appear bright red at first; they may later be covered with a slimy, whitish coating. The glands in the neck may subsequently get enlarged. Many children also suffer from a condition called sleep apnoea, which causes snoring. Sleep apnoea is a condition with irregular breathing patterns during sleep. It leads to lower blood levels of oxygen. The most common cause of sleep apnoea is enlarged tonsils and adenoiditis (inflammatory disorder of the adenoids), which partly block the airways during sleep.
Adenoids, also known as pharyngeal tonsils or nasopharyngeal tonsils, are located at the back of the throat, above the tonsils. Your professional homeopathic doctor will assess the cause of snoring, mouth breathing and behavioural issues.
Once this is done, a suitable homeopathic remedy based on your child’s unique, particular symptoms is prescribed. Following homeopathic treatment, many children are able to avoid surgical removal of their tonsils and adenoids.
Homeopathy has an impressive clinical record in treating tonsillitis and adenoids. It does not believe in removing the tonsils but in removing the problem and enhancing the body’s own defences to maintain good health. It aims at improving the child’s immunity and enabling the tonsils to do their job most efficiently - without side-effects.
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