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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Why Homeopathy? The treatment of Earache, Otitis Media, Glue Ear

Otitis Media, commonly known as glue ear, is the inflammation of the middle ear, causing earache, and often fever, especially in young children. The condition usually clears itself within 2-3 days, but during this time the pain and discomfort can be intense, and deeply distressing.

The Conventional Medical Treatment of Earache
The NHS Choices website recommends that no treatment is necessary within 72 hours of earache starting as most cases will clear up within 72 hours. It says that you can “relieve the child’s symptoms of earache and high temperature by painkillers, such as Ibuprofen and Paracetamol” (but not aspirin for children under 16 years). Click on the highlighted links to see some of the serious harm these painkillers are now known to cause.

Antibiotics are the only other drugs mentioned, but not, it would seem, with any confidence in their effectiveness. The website states that the “use of antibiotics to treat ear infection is not recommended because:
  • there is no evidence they speed up the healing process
  • many middle ear infections are caused by viral infections so antibiotics are often ineffective
  • every time you use antibiotics to treat a non-serious infection it increases the likelihood of bacteria becoming resistant to it, meaning more serious infections could become untreatable
Indeed, it says that Antibiotics are only recommended “if your child has a serious health condition that makes them more vulnerable to infection, if the child is under the age of three months, your child’s symptoms show no signs of improvement after four days”.

The website goes on to describe the “common side effects” of Amoxicillin, the antibiotic normally used.
+ skin rash
+ feeling sick
+ diarrhoea

Additional conventional treatment described on the website is: 
the fitting of Grommets, tiny tubes inserted through the eardrum to help drain the fluid, putting in place by an operation requiring general anaesthetic.
Myringotomy, a surgical procedure where the surgeon makes a tiny cut into the eardrum to relieve pressure on the middle ear, and allows the surgeon to drain away excess fluid inside the middle ear.

The Homeopathic Treatment of Earache
There are a number of remedies that can be used to treat ear-pain. The advantage of homeopathy is that the remedies can be safely used at an early stage of earache without the need for the use of painkiller, and can can continue to be used right through to resolution.

These descriptions of the main remedies used in earache, or otitis media, have been taken from the Homeopathy: The Amazing Medicine website.

ACONITUM is prescribed for earaches that start suddenly, often after exposure to wind or cold and are accompanied by high fever, agitation and restlessness. The child´s face is red, hot and flushed and expresses anxiety.

BELLADONNA is recommended for ear infections in which the pain varies rapidly in severity but is usually worse on the right side and is accompanied by fever, facial flushing, nightmares, and sensitivity to light

CHAMOMILLA is one of the great remedies for otitis media in young children in which there is terrible pain; the child has one cheek red and the other pale, is very irritable, shrieks in pain and can only be comforted if she is cradled in the arms .

MERCURIUS is a remedy for acute and recurrent otitis with greenish or yellowish discharge in the ear. It usually affects right ear, and is accompanied by discharge and hearing loss. The child feels worse at night, and also usually has strep throat, sinusitis or bronchitis.

PULSATILLA is the remedy most often used both in cases of acute and chronic otitis media. The otitis is usually preceded by a cold. The left ear is commonly affected, and the pain is felt as if the ear is going to explode. The patient feels worse in a warm room and better outdoors. The child is very clingy and tearful.

One useful source of information on Otitis Media, and earache generally, can be found at 

Randomised Controlled Tests (RCTs)
There have been several RCTs and comparative trials on the use of homeopathic remedies in the treatment of earache.

This study suggested that homeopathic ear drops were moderately effective in treating otalgia in children with AOM (acute Otitis Media) and may be most effective in the early period after a diagnosis of AOM. Pediatricians and other primary health care providers should consider homeopathic ear drops a useful adjunct to standard therapy.

Further research comparing homoeopathy to standard care is warranted. Assuming recovery rates of 50 and 30% in homoeopathy and standard care groups respectively, 270 patients would be needed for a definitive trial.

By measuring the duration of pain, the duration of fever, and the number of recurrences after one year, the homeopathy group was found to be superior in all three areas.