Cleft affected children are prone to ear infections due to their anatomy and has been a battle for our family since our son was approximately 2 months old.
Now, I will let you know what worked for us and what continues to work for us with regards to our son and preventing ear infections in the first place. We still put in silicone ear plugs and a neoprene headband by Ear Bandit Medium Blue EAR BAND-IT® Physician Developed Swimming Headband that we use when he bathes, showers or swims. This keeps his ears dry and prevents bacteria from thriving in that wet environment.
So that is first and foremost in our offensive approach so far. Another really important factor was that I knew his immune system was weak and that I needed to get his gut properly balanced from all of those first initial years of going through rounds of antibiotics. We took to Whole Foods and Sprouts and after a great deal of research I purchased an array of probiotics that I wanted to try and felt would be helpful in strengthening his gut and thereby reinforcing his immune system.
1. Bio-K Plus Bio-K + Probiotic Strawberry 3.5 oz. (Pack of 3)
This is a probiotic rich drink that comes in several flavors. We have only tried strawberry and my son likes it so we have not attempted to venture beyond that. It is simply reminiscent of a yogurt drink. We bought a pack of it and would have our son drink half of it in the morning and the remainder before bedtime. He loves it. He would tell me that his stomach didn’t hurt anymore and actually asks for it if his stomach gets upset. The sales clerk I spoke with at Whole Foods informed me that it is recommended to drink for approximately 2 weeks after one has finished a round of antibiotics to help restore the friendly flora in our gut. So I decided that we would do this for at least 2 weeks minimum. I know you can’t reverse the previous years of antibiotic usage in just a few weeks and with just one product, so diversify I shall, but 2 weeks at a minimum was my plan for the Bio-K.
2. Nature’s Plus Animal Parade Inner Ear Support Cherry – 90 Chewable Tablets
This is a chewable vitamin that is refrigerated. It touts providing inner ear and throat support with K-12 probiotics known to be specific to the ear, nose and throat area. It also has chamomile and mullein extracts known to soothe and calm the inner area and used in homeopathy for ear infections specifically. I began having our son take one of these vitamins daily to provide yet another layer of assistance and protection for our son’s immune system.
3. Nature’s Plus Animal Parade AcidophikidzChews-90 Chewables
This is another great product that we purchased to begin using daily once our son finished his Bio-K. I wanted to continue providing him with a probiotic rich source that kept his immune system strong and helped him to combat daily stressors and give him an edge (I hoped) in his fight against ear infections.
4. Inner Eco Wild Berry Coconut Water Kefir, 15 Ounce — 6 per case.
I decided to purchase this in the Berry Flavor and it is something our entire family drinks. We have a shotglass we use to measure out a portion for each person and is something we take at bedtime. Each serving provides approximately 100 billion active probiotic cultures and enzymes. It does need to be refrigerated and tastes a bit like vinegar, but is something each of does not mind taking a bit of each day for our health. This was yet another layer we were adding to our regimen to assist in building all of our immune systems.
5. NOW Foods Lavender Oil, 2 ounce ; NOW Foods – Basil Oil 1 Oz
A lot of research went into this area and what we found that works for us is the Lavender and Holy Basil essential oils combined. We take a cotton ball and put one drop of each oil and then swipe the cotton ball on the cartilidge of his affected ear and then all around the back of his ear and down his neck. The lavender is a calming oil which helps to fight inflammation and the holy basil works in tandem with the lavender as an antibacterial. Both oils smell good and seem to provide a calming support for both of us when using. (DO NOT pour essential oils into ear canal. It will work by swiping the outer portion of the ear and behind the ear)
6. Xlear Sinus Care Nasal Spray, 1.5 Fl Oz
This nasal spray is gentle enough to use every day to assist with keeping the nasal passages clear and free of pathogens. It helps to clear congestion and keep things moving, so to speak, and with a little one prone to ear infections we wanted to make sure we were helping all of his upper facial area to be as healthy and strong as possible.
7. Warm Compress
We use a soft sock and fill it with rice. I also put a few drops of lavender and holy basil essential oil on the sock to again assist with the inflammation. Warm the rice sock in the microwave for a few minutes until fairly warm. You don’t want it to be hot. I usually take one of our son’s old diaper cloths and put that over his affected ear and then lay the warm rice sock on top of that just to be sure he doesn’t get too hot and the heat is not directly on his skin should the rice sock be a little warmer at first. Warmth brings circulation to the ear area providing relief fairly quickly. Our son asks for his rice sock whenever he feels like his ears are not quite right and we know to look at this ears and really start treating at this point. So a warm compress is definitely something you want handy. Buy a fuzzy fun sock or let your child pick out the sock to use for the compress so that they know it is theirs. The rice sock works really well because it forms easily to lay on the ear and if you use a larger sock like we do we lay it across his affected ear and then up and over his sinuses. This makes him feel better right away and again if there is anything happening in the sinuses the heat helps to drain that area as well. By now you know that the sinuses are draining into the ears so clearing out all areas is important.
8. Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier with Auto Shut-Off
Every parent has one of these in the house and having a little one prone to ear infections and congestion in the sinuses means you are probably quite used to using this. We make sure to clean it with vinegar every few days to prevent mineral build up and to destroy any bacteria in the holding tank. When going to bed we turn it on and put about 20 drops of NOW Foods Eucalyptus Oil, 4 ounce in the little holding space ours has on top for the liquid vapors it calls for. We put it on the lower setting and his room fills with warm moist air and the eucalyptus oil which helps to scrub the air clean in his room while assisting with the drainage of mucous and helping once again to keep his nasal passages clear and free flowing.
9. Tropical Traditions Organic Virgin Coconut Oil – Gold Label
Now this really is a gem that we found that is the most important thing in keeping him and his ears healthy. Coconut oil is an antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic and antifungal oil. We began keeping a small jar of it with a dropper in his room. After a bath for approximately two months (which is what I read is the length of time to properly clear an infection) we would warm the oil up under hot water and then put one drop in each ear. The warm oil was soothing for our son and became part of his bedtime ritual. The wax in his ears cleared up and he didn’t mind having the warm oil drops versus the cold burning of his antibiotic ear drops. Whenever he begins to experience his ears starting to feel “not right mama” we go ahead and put one warm drop in that ear along with using the warm rice sock. We initially used for the two months nightly because I wanted to make sure we were giving his ears enough time to really heal once and for all. Now we use only as needed.
Now I know this sounds out of the ordinary but I assure you it is not. We were fortunate enough to be brought to a wonderful woman who has really touched our lives with her care and approach. She is AMAZING and has helped our family tremendously with her healing hands. I will share with you in another post about our story with her but for here you will want to know that this is an alternative method that can be added in your plan to help your cleft palate child in their journey to overall health and wellness where their ears are concerned. Whenever our son feels like his ears and neck are hurting we make an appointment and see her. She does not crack him or put him in any strange positions that are scary and frightening to watch or put your child through. She uses stretching and his own body weight to put himself back into alignment and we have found that due to his anatomy from the cleft his upper neck muscles are not as strong as those of another child without these challenges. His neck vertebrae become displaced pinching his Eustachian tube, which does not allow for proper drainage of fluid and when fluid sits it begins to grow bacteria and we end up with an infection. She undoes this for him and the redness and inflammation begin to disappear within 24 hours of visiting her. He is less agitated after visiting her and feels immediate relief. I have seen it and he has felt it so she is part of our approach and care with him.
11. Organic Nighty Night Tea for Children – Organic Tea to Help Kids Sleep
Chamomile is known to sooth and calm, which is one of the reasons it is used to help treat an ear infection. We keep this tea in the house at all times and I will brew him a cup with a bit of honey to sweeten (remember no honey until after the year of age 1). The act of drinking something warm is soothing to my little one and the tea helps to make him feel better, less fussy, less irritable and all this makes for a better boy. Not to mention a better mama…