Oliver wearing his hatOliver wearing his hat, protecting his ears.*

My otherwise healthy little toddler suffered from chronic ear infections (otherwise known as Glue Ear) from June last year until December but has seemed to have knocked them on the head (for the longest time) anyway in the last couple of months.

It has been about 10 weeks now, infection free. That’s a big deal for us. He would literally present signs for one infection as another brewed beneath meaning disturbed, distressed sleep by night and hurried visits back and forth to the Specialist most weeks.

I wanted to share what has helped us to help Oliver. As you know I’m not a Dr (despite often convincing myself that I am), so any problems, please see yours.

1. Grommets in, adenoids out. Click on the NHS link for full definition and explanation.

Oliver underwent this operation after many doses of antibiotics failed him. It was a last resort. Nobody wants their child to go under general anesthetic and having it done before 3 is not that common. Oliver was about 22 months at the time. It is not a miracle cure and grommets often need to be inserted again as they are naturally released between 9-15 months. Oliver still got infections post op but after a while they really helped.  **The grommet in his left ear released after 9 months but as the drum remained perforated thus able to drain fluid from the ear, a further op was not needed (as yet). We also decided to do the following:

2. Give him a short break from nursery if you can (as advised by our consultant)

I know this is not possible for everyone and I am very lucky that having a freelance career means I can share childcare with my parents. I had read about other parents taking their children out of nursery for various durations to assist in reducing common colds which lead to ear infections and feeling desperate, we decided had to give it a go. Since leaving, he has only had one cold that lasted a few days as opposed to several, constant colds which led to infections.

Thankfully his vocabulary is extensive and the consultant had said he was actually ahead for his age with his speech which is not always the case with children with ear problems who often cannot hear as well as their peers preventing them from speaking as well. (He has since returned to nursery after a 6 month break and has only had further infections quarterly-a huge improvement).

3. Osteopathy

I took Oliver to an amazing Cranial Osteopath Doug who works with babies and children (as well as adults) at the Goodhealth Centre in Leeds. As the Eustation tube in the ear is shorter than in adults, infections are easier to contract.  My Osteopath helped the Eustachian tube do a better job of draining the middle ear of fluid (the grommets also help with this of course) and also assisted in relaxing Oliver helping him to sleep through for the first time, in a very long time.

4.  Vitamins and Active Manuka Honey

Oliver has always had an incredibly healthy and varied diet. Being the daughter of award winning restaurateurs helps and we try to reduce sugar in his diet.  We decided despite this we would add vitamins to his diet and and give him a child’s dose (we like Seven Seas Haliborange Baby and Todder Multivitamin Liquid) as it can go into a drink if necessary.

Additionally, the miracle honey that is manuka is now given to Oliver as a 5ml dose daily in milk. After the age of 1, children are allowed honey and this one has antibacterial properties used for many ailments.  It can be expensive but I found 10+ (strong antibacterial level) of Manuka Honey in Aldi’s for approx £5 as opposed to £10 in most supermarkets (this price is subject to change).

5. Cutting down on dairy

I have read varied reports on dairy but the ones that said their children’s infections had improved were very persuasive. We decided it wouldn’t hurt to try and at least limit dairy in Oliver’s diet especially as he eats so well. We substituted cow’s milk with dairy free alternatives and used oils over dairy based spread. I am not sure if this has helped but was part of this five pronged approach we took so I wanted to share. I know some doctors who say it is purely hearsay and perhaps it is, but others do feel it helps reduce mucus and infection.

The above remedies have helped my child. Oliver was born 3 weeks early so this could have contributed to his infections.

Please do take advice from your doctor before implementing any of the above.

*Photo inserted at later date Nov 2012. ©Peter Broadbent.

** Post updated May 2013.

Update: Oliver was infection free for 7 months until Dec 2013. The grommets seem to be doing their job. One popped out but the eardrum was perforated so still drained the ear. Re-occurrence of infection over winter is likely so we are hoping it was a one off.

(Last updated 15th Jan 2013).

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19 Responses

  1. Lucy Gibson

    It was interesting that you pointed out that limiting dairy in some children could help reduce infections in the ear. My sister’s son has been sick a lot and she’s worried that he may have an ear infection. I think at this point she’d be better off visiting a doctor who specializes in this sort of thing. I’ll also talk to her about maybe limiting dairy to see if that could help.

  2. Emma

    Thank you for pointing me in this direction, was interesting to read. You just never know if your own kids can suffer the same so it’s great to educate yourself in things like ear infections. I wish I knew what Febrile convulsions were before Oli went and experienced one! The last bit about breastfeeding made me smile, I hope this year of boobie juice that Dylan has had has helped to build his immune system. The milk definitely came handy when it came to help him with conjunctivitis 🙂

    • honestmum

      @Emma thanks, wow hope Oli is OK-I’ve found blogs and online info really helpful and of course the consultant. Breast milk is clever stuff.

  3. Blog of a Mom

    Really helpful post – I used to get loads as a child so good to be prepared if my kids are the same.

    Once got one whilst on holiday in Cyprus due to water in my ear and the doctor stuck about a 4 inch long metal rod with a bit of cotton wool on the end down my ear to drain it – the worst pain in my life it makes me sweat to think about it!!

    L x

  4. John Roberts

    Two of my children have recently had grommet surgery. I found the above site helpful in purchasing the much need earplugs and ear band. Cheers John

    • honestmum

      @John thanks for your comment and useful link. Oliver won’t even have cotton wool in his ears or wear a hat but hopefully when he’s older we can look at that. Thanks again. Hope your children make a quick recovery.

  5. mother.wife.me

    Really interesting post, thanks for writing it and glad to hear Oliver is much better now. My daughter started nursery for a few hours a week in January and since then she’s had one cold or cough after another, her sleep is all over the place and it is really starting to get us all down! I shall take heed of your tips!

    • honestmum

      @mother.wife.me it’s a hard one isn’t it as they get so much from nursery-the positives, socialising, learning so much etc but the downside are the bugs. See how she gets on. Oliver’s infections were so bad and lasted for so long (literally months on end), we had no other choice but to remove him and it really did help.

  6. icklebabe

    really helpful post, Milly started Nursery at the beginning of Feb and she’s currently off with her 4th cold and bad chest, its a hard call to make isnt it? so glad Oliver is better X

    • honestmum

      @icklebabe so sorry to hear Milly is unwell. It is a balancing act isn’t it. Nursery can help build up their immunity and gives them a lot of benefits too (and you)-with Oliver his weak spot were his ears and he was suffering for too long so we made the decision to take him out. It worked out for us and it’s not forever. Perhaps a year or so. Hope she gets well soon xx

  7. SAHMlovingit

    This is a really helpful post. Touch wood, my daughter is almost 3 and never had an ear infection but I suffered dreadfully when I was a child, right into my teens. In fact I ended up in hospital for a week when I was 19 – it was awful 🙁

    • honestmum

      @SAHMloving it Thanks for your comment. Poor you with your ears in your teens, not nice. I had very bad tonsilitis which runs in my family (as do ear problems) up until I was early 20’s and the episodes were horrific. So glad your daughter’s not suffered.

    • honestmum

      @Cat Perkins I remember you saying you always give the kids Manuka so thank you! Not a Costco member nor is anyone I know but Aldi seem to have good deals on it. Cheers.

      • Alana

        Hi! Loved reading this knowing someone is in the same boat as me! My boy is 16months and has has plenty ear infections and plenty sleepless nights due to it! Great advice here and I’ve just started the manuka honey in his bedtime drink so fingers crossed for some well needed sleep for us all! A wee question did you ever use a humidifier heard from a few that it may help with the infection? X

      • honestmum

        @Alana sorry to hear that, awful when they are ill. Having grommets put in helped a lot and only washing hair once a week, with ear plugs in (if he will let you). We are under a specialist who recommends specific eye drops for ears rather than oral antibiotics but do ask your doctor for his thoughts. Limiting dairy, adding a multi-vit to his diet and including manuka honey did seem to help too. Good luck!

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