Natural Remedies for Ear Infections AND Everything You Need to Know about Ear Infections, Part 2
Welcome to the second part of a two-post series on natural remedies for ear infections, with everything you need to know about ear infections that most likely your doctor won’t tell you. In the first post, you learned that 80% of children will get an ear infection before their 3rd birthday (at least one, many kids have several). That scary statistic comes to us from the National Institutes of Health, a branch of the US Department of Health & Human Services.
In last week’s post, we talked about ear infection facts, myths and prevention. You learned why ear infections are often misdiagnosed, and that your child’s pillow might be contributing to the problem. We covered dietary changes and more exposure to sunshine as natural ways to prevention infections of the ear.
Today we’ll cover 8 antibiotic-free ways to manage an ear infection once it’s already popped up. No drugs, no medicine with side-effects, just natural healing. Ready to get started?
The American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendation that Bears Repeating:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) tells us that 80% of children whose ear infections are not treated immediately with antibiotics heal on their own. Their recommendation (although very few physicians follow it) is to first watch and wait.
Even so, most physicians just whip out their prescription pads and start the suffering child on a series of antibiotics. If the child has symptoms of an ear infection (earaches, pain, nausea, dizziness, loss of hearing, fever), doctors prescribe antibiotics that are in many cases unneeded … and unsuccessful.
Look at those symptoms.
Many of them show up because of any number of conditions, not just an ear infection. Checking a cultured swab is the only foolproof way to spot an ear infection, but too many doctors ignore this step in the diagnosis process.
What can you do as a concerned parent looking for the safest, quickest relief? Take these steps.
- Trust your intuition. If you can’t get away from the thought that your child should see her primary care provider, by all means make an appointment.
- Tell your child’s doctor you want the affected ear swabbed and cultured. It may sound like I’m beating a dead horse here, but this is the only way to accurately diagnose an ear infection. Don’t just let your doctor take a peek in the ear and then make a diagnosis.
- Your doctor is likely going to suggest an antibiotics prescription. Let her know you are aware of the AAP “watch and wait” recommendation. A well-informed, reliable doctor will agree with you that it is okay to wait a day or two before filling a prescription.
- Doctors often make prescription recommendations because they are used to parents that want a quick fix. Make it clear that you prefer to avoid drugs and pills if at all possible, and ask about any recommended options.
- You should consider seeking the advice of another physician if your doctor doesn’t provide several treatment options. In this case, consult a naturopath, an integrative family physician, or some other alternative practitioner.
8 Antibiotic-Free Ways to Manage an Ear Infection
- Chiropractic Adjustments
Most parents don’t think of chiropractic as a treatment for ear infections. Actually, this is a very effective way to reduce pressure and pain, and bring down a fever. It improves lymphatic flow, boosts the overall system, and helps ear infections heal faster.
Here’s how it works.
The bones in the top of your child’s neck may become restricted due to a birth complication, or any other type of physical stress in the area. The muscles there (which correspond directly with the lymph nodes and ear canal) cannot contract and work properly.
A chiropractic adjustment gently loosens the muscles and allows them to contract. This lets the surrounding lymph nodes flush out fluid and congestion that collects in the area.
For more research on how chiropractic helps ear infections Click Here.
- Massage and CranioSacral Therapy
Massage helps move stagnant fluid out of the ears and lymph nodes. If your child has been restless or is unable to fall asleep, ear massage also provides a nice interlude to healing sleep.
Begin by making sure the child is warm and comfortable. A hot water bottle placed until the neck is incredibly soothing, and can help the whole process along.
Start massaging the prominent bony part (mastoid process) behind the child’s ear. Work your way down the front and sides of the neck with long, gentle, tender strokes.
If you feel a swollen lymph node, stay in that area and massage in light, tiny circles. If it is painful for the child, reduce pressure or increase distance from the location of the swelling.
Continue for 5 to 10 minutes or until you feel it’s time to stop. Trust your parental intuition here. And remember, you can’t overdo it as long as you’re gentle.
For children and babies use very light pressure, only enough to leave an indentation on the skin. This is a great time to use a therapeutic essential oil with a carrier oil mix. Some of my favorite essential oils include lavender, frankincense, copaiba, rosemary, lemongrass.
- Light Therapy
Light therapy can improve circulation and thereby give a boost to the immune system. The US National Library of Medicine has reported low-level laser light therapy prevents the accumulation of waste materials in cells and reduces inflammation. Those properties are perfect for treating ear infections.
- Moist Heat
This ancient at-home natural remedy for so many health problems has been used by mothers for centuries, as it increases circulation to the targeted area.
Here’s what to do:
Wet a soft cloth or tea towel with warm water and place it on the affected ear and neck area. Squeeze out most of the wate; you don’t want it dripping wet. You can also add one of the essential oils I mentioned above.
Be sure to cover the ear and the side of the neck to help drain the lymph nodes in the sides and front of the neck. A little moist heat applied before and after massage will really help relax the child and drain excess fluid.
- Garlic Oil
We mentioned garlic oil drops last week as a preventive measure. It’s also an essential home remedy when ear infections strike. If your child can stand to eat it, (mixing with some raw honey helps) that works as well.
You can buy garlic oil from a health food store or online, but it’s so easy and affordable to make yourself. Here is the recipe we promised last week.
Homemade Garlic Oil for Earaches
You’ll need a small glass container (preferably glass) with a lid. You can also use a small plastic container if that’s all you have on hand.
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Warm the oil lightly in a pan on the stove over low heat (you don’t want it hot, just warm to the touch).
- Place the oil and garlic in the container and cover securely with the lid.
- It is best to let the oil and garlic infuse at room temperature overnight before using. If you need to apply earlier, you can apply some of the oil within 2 to 3 hours.
- Wash and dry your hands. Use a clean finger to rub the oil around the outside of the ear and on the infected area.
- You may use your finger to rub some at the entrance to the ear. A drop or two can also be placed inside the ear canal, or on a cotton ball inserted into the ear.
Bonus tip: This is really neat: The oil can also be rubbed on the feet before sleep to help speed healing and further boost immunity.
- Plain, Old, Warm Olive Oil
Heat oil gently until it is body temperature and place a couple of drops in the irritated ear using a dropper or saturated cotton ball (preferably extra virgin olive oil).
Though this doesn’t have the same antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects of garlic oil, it does help soothe the ear and reduce swelling without that telltale garlic odor.
- Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver (a natural, liquid mineral supplement found in health food stores or online) is dripped directly into the ear canal. This helps kill bacteria, reduce swelling, and minimize pain.
- Rock Salt
This is another time-tested ear infection home remedy many of us have forgotten, or never used.
Place some rock salt (found in any grocery store) in the bottom of a sock. Either microwave or bake the sock until it’s nice and warm. Not too hot but not lukewarm either.
Place the sock over the infected ear to soothe pain, improve circulation, and pull excess fluid from the canal.
Now you’re armed with the facts about ear infections that can help you heal them naturally (including how to talk to your doctor). You know how to prevent and manage them without always resorting to drugs or invasive procedures.
I would love to hear your feedback. How do you help your child manage the discomfort of an ear infection? Is there a home remedy or family secret you’d like to share?
Help us boost our children’s defenses and overcome our country’s dependence on antibiotics by sharing your wisdom with us below. And if you would like simple steps to improve your family’s health then be sure to download my FREE Guide on 12-Steps to Bio-Hack Your Family’s Health.
Wishing you well,
Hi! I'm Dr. Jessica
I’m Dr. Jessica Payne, Medical Intuitive, Doctor of Natural Medicine, and your go-to guide for living your life naturally…More
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