Natural Treatments for Earaches in Kids

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September 11, 2017
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Generally known as acute otitis media, middle ear infections are quite common in young children because of their ear’s anatomy and their immune system. Adults have ear canals (known as Eustachian tubes) that slant down towards the nose and mouth, promoting proper drainage of fluid. Children, on the other hand, have horizontal ear canals making drainage challenging. Ear fluid then has the ability to collect and create a blockage. As they continue to grow and develop, the ear canal eventually slopes downwards to resemble that of adults.

Because children have immature immune systems until they’re about 7 years old, they’re more likely to get sick every time they encounter a bug. Once their immune system encounters a bug, it will get activated and cause increased fluid production in the ear, leading to inflammation and swelling of the ear, nose and throat.  Ear infections can be also be triggered by cigarette smoke, pacifier use, and drinking while lying down.

What are the symptoms to look for?

Ear infections can accompany upper respiratory tract infections, so symptoms like coughs and runny noses may be seen. Typically though, you may see a child tugging at their ear, notice a change in their hearing, and some children may verbally tell you that their ear hurts. Other symptoms can include: insomnia, decreased playfulness, irritability, fever, vomiting, and lack of appetite.  

Conventional and natural treatments

Children are commonly given antibiotics when they present with an ear infection, however since most infections are caused by viruses – antibiotics may be of minimal benefit. Oftentimes, the best practice for an infection is to ‘watch and wait.’

Nevertheless, when it comes to ear infections, reducing inflammation and pain within the ear and combat infections are desired! Here are a couple of ways to achieve those goals:

  • Hydration: Ensure that your child is well hydrated, including continuing to breastfeed or offering your child water, herbal teas, and warm soup.
  • Eliminating dairy: Dairy can cause thickening of mucus thus preventing drainage of the Eustachian tube.
  • Lymphatic massage: Using castor oil, and following the chain of cervical lymph nodes from behind the ear down the neck, a massage will help promote drainage of the Eustachian tube.
  • Probiotics: As children are often given antibiotics to kill any causes of infection, taking a probiotic helps re-establish gut bacteria and immune health.
  • Vitamin C: A great anti-inflammatory, Vitamin C will help decrease inflammation present within the ear canal.
  • Botanicals: Echinacea and goldenseal are potent antimicrobial herbs that can rid a child’s body of unwanted bugs. Speak with a Naturopathic Doctor or herbalist before incorporating them into your child’s routine.
  • Garlic infused ear oil: Another antimicrobial, garlic-infused ear oil can help directly at the site of pain.

If your child’s tympanic membrane has perforated (where clear liquid or blood is noticeable from the ear), has a high fever (over 39C) that has persisted for a few days, or is in an incredible amount of pain, it is recommended to seek treatment from a medical doctor.  Moreover, be on the lookout for a severe headache, stiff neck, and lethargy as those are common indicators of meningitis, and need medical attention right away.

For more information on how to stop the cycle of chronic ear infections (I experienced over 20) and your child’s reliance on antibiotics, book an appointment with me!

This article originally appeared on EcoParent

Natural Treatments for Headaches in Kids

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August 21, 2017
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Headaches are an unwelcome symptom that many of us experience, including kids. Not only can they be triggered by different causes, there are also many types of headaches: tension, cluster, sinus, and migraine. It’s important to determine the type of headache you or your child may be experiencing, because therapies will differ depending on the cause.

How to identify the different types of headaches

In order to differentiate between the types, take note of the pain your child is experiencing:

  • the specific location
  • characteristic of pain (sharp, dull, achy, electric, pressing) 
  • when it began
  • how long does it last
  • what makes it better or worse

Some children may not be able to articulate all these answers and instead will simply point to where the headache is located and may require parental coaching to describe the type of pain.

Some of the most common causes of headaches include: allergies, environmental triggers, fever, high blood pressure, illness and infections, injuries and trauma, low blood sugar, side effects of medications, and stress. They may also experience associated symptoms such as aggravation by smell, light, and sounds, disturbances in vision and nausea and vomiting (which are all typically associated with migraines).

Tension headaches typically feel like there is a band around the head and is described as throbbing pain. These headaches can occur throughout the day (around school time), and remit around bedtime. In contrast, migraines may occur for a few days, be associated with key symptoms, and are not relieved by sleep.

Treatment considerations 

Conventional treatment involves the use of pain relievers such as ibruprofen and acetaminophen. These treatments should be used judiciously and under the supervision of a doctor, and certain illnesses need to be ruled out prior to usage.

Interested in more natural headache relief options? We got ’em!

Natural treatments for headaches include:

  • Eliminate allergens: whether they are food or environmental allergens, removing any potential offenders from your child’s daily routine can be beneficial. Food allergens may include dairy, gluten, and additives. Chocolate and MSGs are known offenders.
  • Protein: Foods high in sugar cause blood sugar levels to spike then crash, leading to increased feelings of hunger. Limit sugary foods, and be sure to incorporate protein at every meal and snack as it can stabilize blood sugar.
  • Nutrient support: Calcium and magnesium help blood vessels relax, and can relieve symptoms of migraines. Fish oil are natural anti-inflammatories, and can help decrease inflammation throughout the body.
  • Botanicals: Chamomile will act as a relaxant to the nervous system, while feverfew, ginger and peppermint behave as anti-inflammatories. These herbs can be consumed as teas, but should be done under the supervision of a herbalist or naturopathic doctor. You can also consider adding the teas of these herbs into your child’s bath. 
  • Homeopathics: this gentle therapy works based on the unique symptoms associated with a headache, and should be dispensed by a homeopath or naturopathic doctor.
  • Acupressure: applying pressure to Li 4, a point on the large intestine meridian that is part of the four gates, will help relieve pain. A doctor of traditional chinese medicine or naturopathic doctor can teach you this easy technique.
  • Relaxation: If your child is experiencing a headache, have them lie down in a dark and quiet room. Moreover, your child may need to talk about any fears or anxieties that he or she may be experiencing.

If your child is experiencing frequent and chronic headaches that are progressing in severity or frequency, be sure to visit a doctor to determine the cause of the headache. Headaches that are associated with high fever, stiff neck, confusion, disorientation, and vomiting may indicate meningitis or encephalitis and require a visit to the emergency room.

For more information, book an appointment with me! Together, we’ll figure out the cause of why your child’s headaches are happening and have your family relying less on pain relievers!

This article originally appeared on EcoParent

Natural Treatments for Constipation in Kids

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June 26, 2017
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Constipation is a common issue that many children experience as they grow. It’s defined as infrequent bowel movements or a difficult passage of stool which may include pain. Starting from birth, the bowel movements of babies are quite different than those of a healthy adult. Within 48 hours of birth, babies will pass meconium — substances ingested during the time spent in the uterus. Around the first week of birth, babies will normally have a soft bowel movement after each feeding. Babies younger than three months will continue to have movements a few times a day or go up to one week without having a movement. Children who are breastfed may experience less frequent bowel movements compared to their formula-fed counterparts. This is because breast milk is rich with nutrients and often there is little waste left over. By the age of two, one bowel movement per day is expected.

When bowel movements occur 3 times a week or less it is defined as constipation. Usually, constipation is caused by a low fibre diet or not enough fluids in the body, but it can also be caused by introduction of food, stress, lack of exercise, and rectal fissures.

To determine if your child may be experiencing constipation:

  • Assess their comfort level when they are having a bowel movement
  • Look at the stool (does it appear formed and soft? does it appear loose and in crumbly pieces? does it appear dry, cracked, or comes out in small “rabbit pellets”?)
  • Feel your child’s abdomen — is it firm and tender to touch?

If your child is dealing with constipation, there are many natural treatments to help improve bowel movements, and help children re-establish normal habits!

  1. Water: Since dehydration is one of the main causes of constipation, it’s not a surprise that increasing water intake will help soften the stool to allow for smooth passage. Be sure to cut out pop, energy drinks, or even caffeinated beverages as they can be dehydrating (and full of unnecessary ingredients!).
  2. Fibre: Fibre adds bulk to the stool and ensures that all the ‘waste’ from your meals gets out of your body. Before you pick up a fibre supplement – turn to dietary sources. Vegetables and fruit are a wonderful source of fibre so to be sure to include them at every meal and snack! Moreover, leafy greens contain magnesium which has a laxative effect and can help soften stools.
  3. Food sensitivities: Introducing new foods into your child’s diet may cause unwanted symptoms such as constipation. Common sensitivities that have been linked to constipation are: dairy, gluten, banana, corn, eggs, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, etc.) and yeast. When introducing these foods to your child, be sure to document any negative reactions they experience as you may want to eliminate those foods from their diet.  
  4. Probiotics: These good bacteria can increase bowel movements and help soften stool. Because probiotics can come in many strains, it’s best to speak with your medical or naturopathic doctor before choosing the best probiotic for your child.
  5. Massage: This technique may help get things moving. When massaging the abdomen, start at the lower right corner, moving up towards the ribs, across to the left, down to the lower left side, and back to the lower right corner. Massaging with castor oil can certainly help as it has a natural laxative effect when used topically.

Addressing stress and increasing physical activity are also great ways to treat the cause of constipation. If you notice that there is blood in your child’s stool, if he is experiencing severe pain, if a tear is present, or a fever (along with constipation) is beginning – please consult your family doctor.

For more information, book an appointment with me to help get your child’s bowels moving regularly again – without relying on PEG (or something similar) for life!

This article originally appeared on EcoParent