My son has been suffering from ear infections since birth at this point and each year his body would force his PE tubes out and another ear infection would set in. We would go through the motions of making yet another appointment with his pediatrician, and get a prescription for antibiotics that initially would work. As the years went by though he continued to need a stronger antibiotic each time. The last time his ear infection became so bad they ended up giving him a shot of antibiotics along with the oral antibiotics and we ended up taking care of not only a child in pain but one that could not stop vomiting and experiencing diarrhea…all at the same time. It was a miserable time for everyone involved.
We felt helpless as his parents because we knew his ears were in pain and now his body was was not functioning properly. So what now? All of this was happening while his ENT was working to schedule a myringotomy at the hospital. It got to the point where his ENT decided to do the surgery in his office because he simply could not book an O.R. for earlier than two weeks out. Our miserable little guy was not going to make it another two weeks on shots of antibiotics, vomiting and diarrhea, throbbing ear pain and no sleep. I was feeding him Motrin like it was candy and I just felt like I was not doing all I could be doing for him as his mother.
We went through yet another operation with PE tubes inserted and seeing my son go under anesthesia again was heartbreaking . Going through the recovery was worse. Each time he wakes up from surgery he is disoriented, his pupils are enlarged and he is violent. He hits me and my husband, bucks his body and cries this awful whaling cry that just screams fear and anxiety. It is the longest half hour and even though the nurses are nearby patting us on the back and telling us this is “normal” behavior for someone coming out of anesthesia it does nothing to comfort us.
The ENT tells us his ears are draining and he vacuumed them out so the redness is already clearing up. This is good news. We get a bottle of antibiotic ear drops with a corticosteroid in it that has to be put in for a few days after surgery and you can imagine how fun that is with a little one. Wrangling them into position and then forcing ear drops down both ears is yet another horrifying experience that simply becomes routine after this many years of ear infections, surgeries and then recovery.
Our little guy was 4 at this last bout of fun. Around age 5.5 his PE tubes began once again to start forcing their way out. We were bracing ourselves for another round of fun with the impending ear infection that was sure to rear its ugly head. I was not interested in watching my son suffer or go under anesthesia so I hit the internet for any information I could find.
There was such an influx of information that I felt as if there was a ray of hope and I set out on a new path so help my son get through these ear infections without the use of antibiotics. I was, however, not unrealistic in my expectations and should none of these alternative routes work I knew I could always fall back to antibiotics and surgery so that was at least a safety net of sorts. In no way did I want my son to suffer. I decided that the best approach would be an offensive one so that I could prevent the infection from first setting in.
Everything I had read stated that ear infections in no way needed to be treated with antibiotics and that antibiotics only treat the bacterial infection anyway. They wreak havoc on the digestive system because they kill all bacteria both good and bad, which is why the vomiting and diarrhea are a side effect due to the friendly flora being imbalanced. I also discovered that ear infections can take up to two months to truly clear and that more than just the middle ear needs to be addressed. You have the sinuses, which if not treated simply drain into the ears causing another flare up so I knew I needed a multi-approach here.
Research became my middle name and through trial and error with our little one we have a plan that my husband, daughter and even our son knows works and what to do at the first sign of infection.