Generally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of messing with ear infections in kids. . .it's a legit going-to-a-doctor situation for me. There was an incident in my past that left me emotionally traumatized. . .involving a cousin, tubes, infections, intense pain, lasting damage. . .it was a mess. I think I'm scarred for life.
But I don't mind trying to find natural ways to ease the pain and discomfort and help speed healing along while antibiotics do their thing too. Simultaneous treatment works for me!
Prevention, however, is better still. And I'm a BIG fan of it. Considering I have four kids, from 17 down to 7, who have had a COMBINED total of 5 ear infections over the years, I'd say it works pretty well, too.
So, to honor my friend, here is a collection of various ear-infection related suggestions:
As always, however, please remember that I'm not a doctor, nor should any suggestion here be substituted for proper medical advice. If you see a suggestion you are interested in, do your own research, then seek professional medical advice as to whether it is safe or appropriate for you or your family.
~ Garlic Oil
Garlic oil (natural, organic, of course) can be found at your local health food store and sometimes in the health food aisle of your regular supermarket or drugstore. It comes either in a bottle or in capsules. If you can, stick with the bottle, as it's cheaper and easier to use. Plus, it tends to go a little further.
Putting two drops in each ear every week or so during 'ear infection season' should keep infections at bay. Plug each ear with a little cotton for a few minutes after you insert the drops so the oil has time to get where it needs to go.
(Some people use this as a treatment for an actual ear infection, repeating the dose in the infected ear for a few days, and swear by the results, but I learned about this after the last infection one of my kids had and never had the opportunity to try it on an actual infection.)
Of course this is kind of a moot point when you get past a certain age, but breastfeeding is one of the best ways to protect your baby, both as an infant AND, later, as a child, from ear infections. Breastmilk provides not only perfect nutrition, it also passes antibodies to your baby that can help fight all kinds of infections later in life, including in the ear.
When my second daughter came to us as a foster child at 16 months, she had been plagued with endless ear infections. . .so bad, she had permanent damage in one ear. At her first assessment appointment, the doctor cleaned her ears out (lots of debris), prescribed antibiotics and told us to push water as much as possible. . .both now, and always. Hydration helps in endless body functions, even in keeping the ears flushed and clear. As most children are in a perpetual state of dehydration, and this can impair all sorts of things, including brain function, this is one of the best things you can do for overall health.
Check with your doctor about suitability and dosing, but immune-strengthening vitamins such as A and C may help stave off infection.
Like with vitamins, immune boosting herbs like blueberry, echinacea, and liquorish, help keep your body strong and able to both deter and fight infections. Check with your doctor about suitability and dosing, though.
Recommended herbs include liquorish, blueberry, Echinacea - See more at: http://www.eardoc.info/news/how-to-treat-an-ear-infection-without-seeing-a-doctor/#sthash.16T3TJeW.dpuf
This may seem a little funny, but kids often scarf food down with little chewing, especially when eating today's typical diet of processed 'soft foods.' But chewing food properly (and having proper food TO chew) not only helps them to access the nutrients in the foods they eat, but it also works the jaw. . .and when the jaw is in motion, the ear canal has a better chance of remaining properly drained. This, in turn, can lower the chance of infection. Who knew?
~ Moist Warmth
Rinse a clean washcloth in water that is as hot as you can handle without getting burned and wring it out. Fold the washcloth in half, then into quarters and place the washcloth on the infected ear. Lay on the 'good ear' with your infected one pointed up. Leave it on until it cools. (covering with a small plastic lid or plate or something will help keep the heat in longer. The moist heat increases circulation in the ear and can help reduce swelling and ease pain. It won't cure the infection, but it can give some relief.
Warmth, theoretically, will loosen up the fluid being retained in your child's ear and enable it to drain. Put a cup of rice in a large sock and microwave it for 45 seconds, massage it and check carefully for hot spots. If the heat is okay and well distributed, have your child lay with his infected ear against it. This also helps relieve the discomfort and pressure that comes with infection.
~ Vinegar and Alcohol
Mix equal parts white vinegar and alcohol and bathe the infected ear twice per day. I've heard that if you use this periodically, it should help keep infections from appearing in the first place, too.
~ Essential Oils
Mix the following:
- 4 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil
- 4 Drops of Chamomile Essential Oil
- 5-6 Drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 2 Tablespoons of Pure Almond Oil (carrier oil)
- Gently heat the oil mixture in a small cup of hot water. When the oil is warm, but not hot, put 2-3 drops in the infected ear.
~ Food and Drink
Both drinking and chewing can help if you have an ear infection as the swallowing function works the jaw in such a way that it helps the ears to drain. Most ear infections hang out in the Eustachian tube, so anything you can do to help air and drain it will help in healing, as well as relieve that annoying feeling of pressure.
Keeping partially upright while you sleep helps the ear canals to drain of built up fluids. Encouraging your child to keep his head upright during the day and semi-upright at night will enable his ears to drain naturally.