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Monday, May 05, 2014

Alternatives to Ear Tubes (i.e., Myringotomy Surgery)

A couple of months ago Madison's pediatrician recommended that we see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor to determine if Madison should have myringotomy surgery (i.e. ear tubes) for her recurring ear infections.  As you may (or may not) know, children are prone to ear infections when they get sick because their ears aren't fully developed enough to drain properly, which can cause a build-up of fluid.  This fluid tends to get infected due to the sickness which results in an ear infection.  If the fluid was able to drain properly this issue could be avoided.

From the start of daycare in August 2013 to February 2014 Madison has had six ear infections, basically an ear infection every month for six months which should NOT be happening.  The last bout required a three day injection of antibiotics in both of her legs because she, of course, was becoming immune to the antibiotics.  And yes, that's two shots for three days straight in a two year old!  Needless to say, she hates going to the doctor now.

Afterwards, we went to see the ENT with an open mind but it didn't sit well with us.  No matter how minor people tried to make this "minor surgery" seem it would still in fact be a surgery, and one that required anesthesia.  The surgeon would cut holes into her ear drums and place tubes into them to allow fluid to drain properly.  In addition to that she wouldn't be allowed to have water enter her ears for as long as the tubes were in (during baths, swimming this summer, etc.).  Again, none of this sat well with us so I did some research and looked into alternative ways to deal with her infections and settled on the following:
  • Chiropractic adjustments - I've been seeing Dr. Gray since Maddie was in the womb due to severe back pain while pregnant. We'd been taking Maddie to see her weekly at first, but now we go every two weeks for an adjustment in her neck that helps her ears drain as they should.  Go here for more information as to how this works.
  • Eardoc - I'd been complaining about Maddie's ear infections on Twitter and received {this tweet} from Eardoc.  So, I did a little research and decided to give them a try. It's a device that uses small vibrations to "open the clogged Eustachian tube, therefore allowing drainage of accumulated fluids out of the middle ear – relieving pain immediately".  And this thing works! I used it recently at the onset of an ear infection and watched the symptoms (i.e., fever, fussiness) of the infection fade within 24 hrs.
Alternatives to Ear Tubes - Myringotomy Surgery
  • Change of Scenery (i.e. Daycare) - Madison started getting ear infections as soon as she started daycare.  She's been sick NONSTOP since August 2013. And I say that with no exaggeration. She literally has not had a break from being sick since she started. We understand that children get sick when they first start daycare but her level of constant sickness just wasn't normal, in our opinion. So we moved her to a new daycare last month and haven't had any issues since!
Due to all of the above we've been able to avoid myringotomy surgery and use natural alternatives to keep our daughter healthy!  I do my best not to be so quick to follow my pediatrician's advice just because they're a doctor.  Although I respect their opinions it's ultimately our responsibility to make the best possible decision for our child(ren).  We may not always be able to avoid surgery but we're always going to make sure that we've considered all options before putting them "under the knife".  I urge other parents to do the same!

Photo via Unsplash



  1. I agree...I had to learn the hard way to not always jump immediately to listen to what the pediatricians say. They're great and wonderful, but occasionally a mother's intuition is better than their recommendations!

    So glad Maddie is doing so much better. What a relief!!

  2. I had that surgery when I was a kiddo, and it seems like it's insanely common for kids to have it! I definitely think parents should look into all their options. I hope cute Madison is able to avoid future ear infections!

  3. I've been lucky with my 3 so far and none of them have had serious chronic ear infections. It was always a fear of mine. I've heard so many people say "it's a minor surgery" but let's face it, a surgery is a surgery no matter how routine it is. I totally understand why you are trying other alternatives and think I'd probably do the same. Hope all works out and you all can avoid the surgery in the future.

  4. Hi Nicole! Just wanted to share this with you incase you're interested...

    Also, is your daughter taking daily probiotics? I give my daughter probiotics daily as an overall benefit for her health. When I learned about how Autistic children have abnormal gut flora and how our body's healthy gut flora or lack thereof is the main indictor of how the body functions properly, I started researching. Low and behold, there are tons of mamas who give their kids daily probiotics ((((especially)))) after antibiotics that are killing all the bad (and GOOD) bacteria in their bodies. In terms of immunity, my daughter has been sick two times in 18 months and bounced back the very next day.
    Incase you are interested, we buy Jarro Dophilus brand at Whole Foods (in the refrigerated area of the whole body section)...its a live bacteria powder that I put into her yogurt or almond milk. Not all probiotics are created equally, if you are going to buy one (if you haven't already), make sure it is a high grade probiotic.


    The McGuire Family

  5. I'm so glad y'all decided against the surgery AND that the alternatives are working! Those ear infections don't sound like they're any fun at all!! Is there a certain age when they're out of the clear for these infections??

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