Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Looking Back into the Fog

I guess that I feel it's necessary to explain the thing that threw me so off track so I'm going to start there. This is going to be a long informational post. However, if you have children (especially children that have had chronic ear infections) I urge you to read it. I wish I had gotten a hold of this information sooner.

On Chloe's first birthday (August 30) she came down with a nasty cold. Btw, I have only one picture from her birthday. I pulled one picture of her off of my memory card and after that, it was somehow damaged and I haven't been able to retrieve those pictures. If anyone has any ideas about that, I would love you forever. Anyway, she came down with a cold and was feeling really yucky. I began to wean her as I did Emma at one year and so naturally, I thought part of her fussiness was due to that. Her seemingly need to still nurse was too overwhelming and I gave in to both mine and her desires to continue what I see as a wonderful part of babyhood. I saved the weaning for a later time and we continued on with a persistent runny nose. About two weeks later, Emma woke screaming one night saying that her ear was hurting. The next morning, I loaded all three children in the car (including Maggie, the baby that I babysit) and headed off to the doctor. I figured while we were there, I could have the doctor check out Chloe also. Sure enough, Emma had an ear infection and to my surprise, Chloe had a double ear infection. Doses of antibiotics for both and at the recheck Emma's ears were clear but Chloe's still infected. Maggie had an ear infection around this time also so my thinking was that maybe there was a strong bacteria that needed an antibiotic.

Now, I'm a firm believer in letting my children "cry it out" unless they are sick or hurting. I also believe that antibiotics are overused and that when we dose our children over and over, not only are we hindering our children's ability to naturally fight infection, we are also feeding immunities to the bacteria which in turn will result in more and more sickness for everyone. However, I was desperate to ease her pain and frantic because my child had something that I could not get rid of. And, since I didn't have a solution myself, I followed the doctor's orders and gave her more antibiotics. So, three antibiotics later, the ear infection was still there and I had an appointment with an ENT and two months of no sleep. I have such a high respect for mothers that have dealt with an on-going or terminal illness with a child. I know that in the grand scheme of things, an ear infection is not that big of a deal but to me, not being able to make my child better made me feel like I couldn't do my job as a mother. I can not imagine the desperation a mother must feel when they have a child suffering from something worse.

It seemed suspicious to me that Chloe had never had an ear infection and then at 13 months, she got one that we couldn't get rid off so, I did a little or maybe lot of internet research. I found a lot of mother's saying that dairy was the culprit of their children's ear infections. Now I know that there is a lot of crazy information out there on the internet but I also know that some of the best advice that I've gotten has been from mothers who have actually experienced things and aren't trying to make their children fit a text book description. And since it was also around her first birthday that I introduced milk, I figured it couldn't hurt to take dairy out for a week and see what happened. A week later, we headed off to visit the ENT to find out that her ear infection was gone. They checked her hearing and found out that some "temporary" hearing loss had occurred and though the ear infection was gone, her inner ears were packed with fluid. The ENT insisted that the fluid would not go away on it's own though he admitted that many children did have a strong sensitivity to milk and that he thought that sensitivity did often cause ear infections. He told me that if I didn't put tubes in her ears, that her ears would continue to get re-infected and her speech would not develop correctly. And he said that even though it might be due to a milk allergy, putting tubes in would take care of it and I wouldn't have to worry about her diet. I kindly thanked him for his time but told him that I was going to give her two months with no dairy to see if the fluid would go away on it's own and that she had her 15 month checkup coming up and I would have the doctor look at them then. I came home and purchased an otoscope off of the internet. I was able to keep a check on her ears to make sure that they weren't getting infected but I wasn't really sure how to tell about the fluid. On December the 10th, we went in for her 15th month check up. I went in equipped with my defense (charts of where I had kept up with her protein, calcium, and iron intake) and fully ready to change doctors if he was not supportive of my decision to take her off of dairy. This is how that visit went:

He came in, checked her out as doctor normally does at a check up and then looked in her ears and said nothing.. So this is how the conversation went:
me: so how to her ears look?
doctor: great
me: you mean there is no fluid?
doctor: no, they look perfect
me: you know you sent me to an ENT don't you.
doctor: looks through her chart. Yeah, I see that I did.

I then explained to him what I had done and then very defensively told him that I was keeping her off dairy and that I had been charting her nutrient intake and that I knew that she was getting the nutrients that she needed.

And to my surprise, he responded by saying that many children did have a sensitivity to milk and that he had several patients that ate a dairy free diet and that they were just as healthy as his other patients and that he didn't even think that cow's milk was the best nutrition for a child and that if I did decide to try milk again, goats milk might be the way to go because goats milk was made for an animal more the size of a child while cows milk was made for an animal the size of a cow. INFORMATION THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HELPFUL THREE MONTHS AGO!
He also told me that it wasn't necessary to chart her nutrient intake because she would take what she needed from the food she ate (which I don't totally buy). But anyway, he was more supportive than I expected. Since then, I have read in many different places that researches believe that at least 50% of children have some sort of sensitivity to dairy products. I wish I had figured this out before I put her on three unnecessary antibiotics. But, here we are many months later: tube free, dairy free, and ear infection free, at least for now. And, we moved on to other illnesses like stomach viruses which made for an interesting Disney World trip! But that'll have to wait until later. Chloe is sitting beside me repeatedly calling momma and telling me what she wants with precise clarity.. Speech seems fine to me.



Anonymous said...

do you give her yogurt?? I know it's dairy but the probiotics are supposed to help when someone is taking antibiotics, but I don't know if it would give her ear infections... Rider had reflux the whole first year and when I would give him milk after he was one he still spit it up but yogurt was fine... just wondering..

Jennifer Acosta

hyperactive lu said...

So proud of you for doing research and not going with the norm and getting unnecessary tubes! Way to go! So VERY thankful that her ears are good!

Holly said...

Good info to file away in my Mommy files. Thanks for sharing! Take care.

Dana said...

I actually think the yogurt was probably some of the problem. Every time they put her on antibiotics, I started stuffing her with yogurt trying to keep her from getting a yeast infection (a little girl problem you'll find if you have one). So I may have actually been making it worse. I did give her the yogurt during the stomach virus because I thought she needed to have the probiotics. Which, that was the point that she finally stopped throwing up. Her ears did get a little red but cleared up after a few days of not having it. I'm thinking that dairy products would probably be fine if she doesn't have a cold but dairy equals mucus and mucus equals infection so, I think at least until spring, I'm going to stay away from all of it and then gradually add stuff back to see what she can handle. She has had cheese a few times and has been fine.

becky said...

way to go detective mama!! and i totally didn't get back to you on mommy tips. but here is another...when seth couldn't use a spoon very well, meaning he would turn it over before putting it into him mouth, when he would eat applesauce, to save me some energy and to actually get it into him, i cut a straw in thirds and let him slurp it up that way. he got it all and i didn't have to clean!

Kate said...

I'm glad you got something figured out for her. I feel your pain, we did the ear infection thing with Josie. 8 ear infections in 6 months. I'm not big on antiobiotics either, but we tried everything and nothing worked. Finally we got tubes (which I'm not big on either), but I will say, no infections since we got them in. I'll keep the dairy thing in mind if we run into that with Kenna. Hopefully you'll be able to add dairy back into Chloe's diet without a problem. A lot of the time kids will outgrow sensitivities if they aren't true allergies.

Michael and Hannah said...

Good grief... glad you're getting to the bottom of this!

Anonymous said...

My child also had sensitivity to milk. He had an ear infection for 7 months after starting taking milk before we figured out the problem. Pediatrician was not supportive. For ice cream we used frozen cool whip in a cone. It wasn't until he was five before he realized it really wasn't ice cream. The cool whip is nondairy and never caused a problem. was great to use at birthdays to have with cake. Around the age of twelve he was able to use dairy products again without having a problem. Glad ya'll are doing better.

Alexis M. said...

THIS is why I'm vegan and why my children will be raised vegan. I had so many health problems growing up and I am positive it had to do with this. As an adult, when I cut those things out of my diet my parents even noticed how I got sick a lot less often and how much my painful skin problems cleared up! Did you know humans are the only creatures that drink another creatures milk for no good reason? And every adult has some sort allergic reaction to dairy? Whether it's a skin issue or digestion related?

I'm so glad you were able to help your kids naturally, it will be so much better in the long run! :)

Melissa said...

My nephew had congestion problems constantly to the point that the doc had him on breathing treatments every night. A friend told my SIL about taking their child off cows milk so she tried it with my nephew. Cleared him right up. Just gets a common cold that we all get from time to time. He's been on soy milk ever since. He's now 7 and they are slowly starting to give him cows milk again and he's doing fine.