My daughter gets several swimmer's ear infections every year. Can homeopathy help?
JENNIFER JACOBS, M.D., REPLIES: Homeopathy is an excellent treatment for swimmer's ear, a bacterial or fungal infection in the outer ear canal that causes symptoms like pain, inflammation, and crusting in the ear.
Homeopathic remedies are highly diluted plant, mineral, or animal substances that boost your body's healing powers; they can be found in natural food stores and some drugstores. To choose the correct remedy for your daughter, read the following descriptions and pick the one that most closely matches her symptoms. Give her the remedy in the 30C potency twice a day. If you don't notice any improvement in her ear pain or other symptoms within 48 hours, switch to another remedy.
The most commonly used remedy is Hepar sulphuris. It's appropriate if your daughter feels like something sharp is poking or sticking her ear, or if her ear is sensitive to cold but feels better when she holds something warm against it. Other indications include extreme irritability with the pain and a yellowish-green discharge that smells like old cheese.
Try Mercurius vivus if there is yellowish-green discharge, the discomfort is worse at night, her neck glands are swollen, and she alternates between chills and sweating.
Belladonna can be helpful if her pain comes on suddenly and intensely, and her ear is red, hot, and throbbing. She may also have a fever and a flushed face.
Pulsatilla works best if her ear pain is worse at night, she is somewhat weepy and moody, and the pain lessens if she spends time in fresh air.
No matter which remedy you choose, your daughter should stay out of the water until the pain is gone. If her fever lasts longer than 24 hours, or if her symptoms last longer than a week or if they return and don't respond to the same remedy, see a homeopathic physician or a health care practitioner. To find a homeopath in your area, contact the American Institute of Homeopathy (888-445-9988; www.homeopathyusa.org). Encourage your daughter to wear snug-fitting earplugs while swimming to prevent future infections.
To rid your car of musty odors, put 4 drops of vanilla extract onto a cotton ball and place it under the driver's seat or in the console between the front seats, Replace the cotton ball twice a week to keep your car smelling great.--L. V.
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