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Ear infections in babies and children are one of the most common childhood afflictions parents will come across. It is also the number one reason babies are routinely prescribed antibiotics by their pediatricians. For something as ubiquitous as a runny nose, why are we even giving these strong medications in the first place?

Ask any adult who has gone through the pain of an infected ear drum and they will tell you it is almost unbearable. For parents, especially new parents, watching their normally happy baby scream for no reason is equally unbearable. This begins a phenomenon that is all too common where a child is rushed to their pediatrician with a runny nose or cough and a fever. The doctor then confirms an inner ear infection and routinely prescribes antibiotics. The parent leaves feeling relieved, having a script for meds in hand. Yet they are never told about the “wait and see” period the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. The AAP advises observation alone as the prescribed treatment since 80% of acute ear infections in children resolve naturally in a few days.

Your Pediatricians Office Is Also A Business

I am extremely fortunate to have a next door neighbor who is also a pediatric nurse. I will never forget a conversation we were having one day about ear infections and antibiotics. I was telling her how it just didn’t seem right for a tiny six-month-old baby to be put on antibiotics because of an ear ache and a runny nose. You see we were debating over the issue of how there is no way of knowing whether the infection was viral or bacterial. As much as 50% of the time an ear infection is caused by a virus which would mean antibiotics would not work. She then explained to me how pediatric offices are also a business. Parents demand a product to fix their child and doctors happily supply them. I was stunned. On one end you have working parents who need a quick fix so they can get back to their lives and who don’t even question it because they don’t have the time or energy. One the other side of the spectrum are first time parents, vulnerable and afraid of the unknown and who believe in their pediatrician wholeheartedly. The bottom line is parents aren’t happy unless they leave with a solution in hand.

Antibiotics Have Known Side Effects

For parents who have succumbed to a 10 day course of the pink stuff, they are also inadvertently setting themselves up for a cascade of after effects. This includes but is not limited to:

  • antibiotic-induced diarrhea, the most common
  • fungal diaper rash, the kind that makes a bum crack and bleed
  • oral thrush, which is contagious to nursing moms causing a painful nipple infection
  • vomiting, which often happens after you just gave a dose of meds
  • allergic rashes including hives, an actual allergy to the antibiotics
  • joint damage and swelling, a rare but serious side effect

There Are Several Reasons For Ear Aches

What was surprising to me after having been through many ear aches with my own kids was how often they didn’t have an ear infection. Many times the sinus pressure from a simple cold can build up and cause ear pain. Swimming causes an outer ear infection which can also irritate the ear drum. Last but not least our children are damaging their ear drums at an astounding rate from listening to their screen devices too loudly in a new syndrome called “noise exposure,” or noise induced hearing loss. The number of visits to my pediatricians office for ear checks became so often that I broke down and bought my own otoscope, which I highly recommend. The learning curve is short and I was able to easily spot a perfect eardrum from an angry one.

How To Manage Ear Infections Naturally

After you have made an informed decision not to treat a simple inner ear infection with antibiotics, here is what you can do instead:

  • Treat with ibuprofen for pain – avoid tylenol
  • Use garlic oil for it’s antiseptic properties
  • use this warm salt sock recipe and include essential oils like tea tree or Purification by Young Living
  • breastfeed or give high quality probiotics (anything refrigerated and in the billions)
  • suction out as much snot as you can (for small babies)

You Can Get Through This

Lastly it is so important to know that you will get through this, I promise. Sometimes it helps mentally to have that prescription called in to your pharmacy ready to go. But if you can get through even two days you have a 60% chance that this will clear on its own. My daughter is extremely sensitive and complained of ear pain for three weeks once. After checking her ears more times than we could count and no bulging eardrum we came to the conclusion that she actually had a sinus infection. That will be a post for another day but for now take good care of those sweet babes and good luck.

 

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Vaccines save lives and have helped build up our civilization into the modern world it is today. But with a new vaccine added to the schedule of childhood immunizations every few years, parents are starting to see that there can be too much of a good thing.

Many parents today don’t realize that there are a lot more shots than there used to be when they were a child. Most will take their baby in to all of the “well baby” check-ups and let the nurse give injections without even a thought. They believe immunization is part of their civic duty, to help keep the community healthy. After all, they were vaccinated as a child and turned out just fine. But all of that is starting to change and the new generations of parents are asking questions.

Vaccines: Then and Now

An interesting thing happens when you begin to educate yourself on the matter of vaccines. The most critical pieces of information come not from the science or the medicine or even the diseases themselves. The most valuable information comes from the history. It is by looking to the past that you can begin to understand the complexities of this medical procedure we call vaccination.

Vaccines really started to take off during the 1940’s when doctors recommended the smallpox and the DTP (a combined shot of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccines. After that was the Polio vaccine in the 1950’s and lastly the MMR (a combined shot of measles, mumps and rubella) came along in the 1970’s. Since smallpox was eventually declared eradicated, the remaining shots of polio, DTP and MMR were the only three recommended shots, for decades. A child would never receive more than two shots at one time.

The Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) was added in the 1980’s and hepatitis B in the 1990’s. An official annual vaccination schedule was implemented in 1995 and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Since then, more and more and more shots have been added. The current childhood schedule contains 69 doses of 16 vaccines. To give you an idea of how this breaks down, here is what a two month old baby would receive at one checkup: Diphtheria, Tetanus, a. Pertussis (DTaP), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Pneumococcal conjugate Vaccine (PCV) and Rotavirus (RV). These five shots contain 15 different strains of viruses and bacteria and are all injected into a ten pound baby in a single office visit.

Where Are All the Safety Studies?

With the introduction of each new shot one would assume that there are proper safety studies done to ensure parents that mixing together a combination of so many different diseases is, well, safe. But this is not the case. To date there are no safety studies done on the entire vaccination schedule as a whole. Each vaccine is tested individually. Since vaccines are considered a public health measure they don’t have to go through the same strict testing as a pharmaceutical drug would. Vaccines are tested against other vaccines. There are no double blind studies and no true placebos. Most of the safety studies are epidemiological (recording the effects reported by different populations of people.) No true medical studies have been done measuring blood, urine, bone marrow or other empirical data such as these.

A mother’s intuition is not something that should be taken lightly. If she had observed that her child became extremely lethargic after getting all of the recommended shots, napping hours longer than normal and running a high fever – this is what is called a vaccine reaction. More and more incidents like these are emerging, and scientists are beginning to take notice. Most Americans would be shocked to discover that the U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate out of 34 other industrialized nations.

Schedules in Japan and France

America has the most aggressive vaccination schedule of infants under one. Vaccines are a pharmaceutical product and in the U.S. pharmaceuticals are our biggest industry and our biggest commodity. We are the makers of the vaccines that go out to the rest of the world. The only difference is that in other countries they make their own vaccination schedules. While the U.S. has 26 doses of shots from birth to 12 months, Japan and France recommend 12-15 doses during the first year of life. Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Denmark are the same – though they all have the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.

The Future is in Our Hands

No one wants to look back one day and say that we made a huge mistake. It is up to the parent to ask questions. Luckily, generations X and Y are really good at questioning things. It’s okay to say no to certain shots and go slow with the ones you have decided were important. To be an American is to consume products, but this type of mentality does not serve our future generations. Especially when their blood is concerned. The days of worshiping our doctors and blindly following their advice are over. People are learning to take matters of their health into their own hands. Research. Ask questions. Find what’s right for you and your baby. Across the board health officials can agree on one thing – everything in moderation. From a daily glass of wine to a simple 30 minutes of walking per day. Our children deserve this as well. Their health is not determined by the amount of pharmaceutical products injected into them.

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