In this article, I discuss the natural remedies for ear infections that I personally use on myself and my children.
The fall and winter months are the most common time for ear infections to travel through your home and leave you in a lot of pain and discomfort. I know that with my little ones, it’s always a chore keeping them free of ear infections. Though we do a pretty good job warding off the ear infections in my home, they still happen and we want to be prepared with all the right tools to naturally stop an ear infection in its tracks. In this article, I am going to teach you everything you need to know about a holistic approach to ear infections.
What is an ear infection?
An ear infection is an inflammation of the middle ear, caused by either bacteria or a virus, that occurs when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. The scientific name for an ear infection is acute otitis media. Though anyone can suffer from an ear infection, children are much more likely to get them than adults. It is estimated that five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday. Acute otitis media (ear infections) remains to be the leading cause that parents bring their children into the doctor’s office.
What causes an ear infection?
An ear infection is typically caused by a bacteria known as Streptococcus pneumonia. Ear infections will commonly occur after the child has developed a runny nose, sore throat, cold, or upper respiratory infection. Congestion can then cause blockage of the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. If the upper respiratory infection is bacterial, then the bacteria may spread to the inner ear. If the upper respiratory infection is caused by a virus, such as the H1N1, bacteria may be drawn to the microbe-friendly environment and move into the middle ear as a secondary infection. As a result of the infection, fluid builds up behind the eardrum.
Why do children get ear infections more than adults?
This is a question that I get a lot so I want to make sure that I cover it. The reason that children get ear infections more often that adults is because their Eustachian tubes in the ear are smaller and more on a level plane than adults are. This makes a child’s Eustachian tube much more likely to become blocked and not drain fluid to the back of the throat as it should. As a result of the tubes not draining properly, infection can set in and the tubes can become swollen.
What are symptoms of an ear infection?
In most cases, your child will verbally express to you that his or her ear hurts, but there are always cases where the child isn’t at age to speak or has a high pain tolerance. My 2-year-old son (who can talk) never said a word of his ear infection until he woke up one morning with a red discharge coming from his ear. This is indication that his ear infection had likely been developing for a day or two prior, but he never voiced a complaint. Here are some things to look for in your child:
- Irritability and crying
- Trouble sleeping
- Redness around the ear
- Tugging and pulling at the ear
- Loss of balance
- Trouble hearing and responding to noises
When is medical care is necessary?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are certain guidelines that can be followed that will help you determine whether or not you need to take your child in for medical care or not. Most children with uncomplicated acute middle ear infections will recover fully without antibiotic therapy. Many people run immediately to the doctor and are prescribed an anti-biotic when the ear infection would have cleared up on its own without the use of antibiotics. It is also important to note that antibiotics will not help a viral ear infection. The root cause of the ear infection should be determined in order to clear up the ear infection. Here are the guidelines to assist you with when to consider medical care:
- The child has dizziness, hearing loss or increasing pain
- The child has a fever of over 102
- Child experiences any redness, swelling or loss of movement around the sore ear
- An object is lodged in the ear
- You suspect that the eardrum has burst
- Symptoms do not lessen within 48 hours
A “wait and see” approach is often recommended if:
- A child over 6 months has pain in one ear and a fever of less than 102
- A child over two years has pain in both ears and a fever of less than 102
- The pain seems to be lessening and none of the other warning factors are present
Natural Remedies for Ear Infections
Here is a comprehensive list of all the tools I use in order to overcome ear infections. I have only used natural remedies for ear infections on my children and myself, and I have 100% success with no issues. When an ear infection presents, I believe in stacking natural methods in order to achieve fast results. I keep all of the herbs, vitamins, and tools in my medicine cabinet at all times. Especially with kids, you never know when you may need to have fast access to natural healing solutions.
Frankincense helps support the immune system and promotes a healthy inflammatory response. We quickly grab frankincense at the first hint of an ear infection. What we do is we massage frankincense mixed with coconut oil to dilute around the external art of the ear, and down over the lymph node area. Lavender is also very effective at helping with the pain and can be added to the frankincense oil mixture. You can apply this mixture as often as necessary. We try to do it every 2 hours at least. Caution: Do not use essential oils undiluted and do not drop oils directly in ear.
2.) Garlic Oil
Garlic oil is known as nature’s antibiotic and is a must have when it comes to fighting an ear infection. One study demonstrates the use of garlic as a antimicrobial which gives us the knowledge to know that the garlic oil will fight the bacterial infection in the ear. Another study demonstrates that garlic is an incredible antifungal. To sum it up, garlic is an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral, and will also positively boost your immune system. Use 2 warm drops of garlic oil ear drops in infected ear daily.
This systemic immune-supporting formula provides nutritional support for the immune system or more specifically the production of white blood cells. It contains herbs such as Echinacea and goldenseal, both of which are known to boost immune system function and fight infection. For our littles, we open a capsule and mix a ¼ of the capsule into applesauce. We aim to give them at least 1 full capsule daily until all symptoms are gone. For adults, we take two capsules three times a day.
Vivi is a powerful and natural antiviral. It contains clinical soses of Lomatium dissecutim and Pau D’ Arco. North American and native Brazilian herbal traditions, as well as University studies provide evidence of Lomatium’s effectiveness as a potent immune support.
5.) Chiropractic adjustments
Chiropractic care has proven time and time again to not only support the prevention of ear infections but also support a speedy recovery. When kids are suffering from an ear infection, they nearly always have misalignment in the cervical spine, which further irritates the problem. Most doctors of chiropractic learn in school to identify specific misalignment in the cervical spine that are often associated with an ear infection. These misalignments in the cervical spine when corrected relax the muscles surrounding the Eustachian tube and restores nervous system function. This ultimately promotes healing and boosts the immune system.
In the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, there was a study done that showed a strong correlation between the chiropractic adjustment and the resolution of otitis media for the children.
6.) Ear candling
There is no scientific evidence stating that ear candles work. As a matter of fact, most evidence states ear candles are either useless or detrimental. So all I can do here is share with you my own experiences and you can draw your own opinions.
I personally have had several instances where my ear was starting to ache, so I did an ear candle and it cleared up with no issues at all. Science would say that this is random chance, but I personally found that it helped. There was also a case where my daughter had a persisting ear ache that had went on for nearly two weeks. There was no pain but constant drainage. My wife and I used an ear candle with her and it was almost instantaneous that the draining stopped and the ear completely cleared up. These are my experiences, which makes me believe that they can help and are useful.
Probiotics are scientifically proven to boost your immune system through seeding the body with beneficial microorganisms. Having an ear infection means you want to do all you can to boost your immune system. One of the best ways to do this is with the help of probiotics, which are available as a supplement and can also be acquired through your diet by eating things like sauerkraut, kombucha, water kefir and other probiotic-rich fermented foods.
Furthermore, probiotics can also help to prevent ear infections from occurring in the first place. Studies suggest that children and adults with who supplement with S salivarius have significantly better tonsils, throat, and middle ear health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, both probiotics and xylitol are helpful in the support of ear infections.
Regarding diet, there are a couple of things that should be avoided when fighting infections, especially in children. Dairy products, wheat, and sugar should all be avoided in order to support the immune system and help the body fight the infection.
Vitamin D is essential in immune system function. It is a core raw material that the immune system uses to operate correctly. There are receptors on the immune cell that require the attachment of vitamin D to produce Anti-Microbial Proteins (AMP). These AMP’s are anti-virals and kill viruses. Vitamin D up-regulates genetic expression of effectors that attack viruses, bacteria, and antigens. For children ages 2-12, use about 400 IU – 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily.
Even if you aren’t into natural and holistic healing, you know that vitamin C is especially helpful when you are sick. When fighting off an ear infection naturally, take 1,000mg of vitamin C 3x a day for adults, and 500 mg of vitamin C 2x daily for children 6–12 years old.
Our modern prescription antibiotic drugs are designed to work against specific classes of bacteria, but ear infections may be caused by multiple classes of bacteria or can even be fungal.
In this case, the prescription antibiotic will be useless, whereas colloidal silver is effective regardless of what may be causing your infection. Colloidal silver is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory. We have our children take a tablespoon of it internally 4-5x a day when fighting an ear infection.
12.) Heat and Lots of Rest
You should never underestimate the healing help of rest. When your body (or your child’s body) is fighting off an ear infection, extra rest and a healthy diet are crucial. We often have chicken bone broth soup when one of our family members is sick. Also, applying gentle heat to the ear can help ease the pain. You can also place one cup or warm rice or salt in a large spare sock as one of the natural remedies for ear infections. Simply warm the salt or rice and the sock through the use of a microwave. After this, just place the warmed (not hot) sock outside of the ear 10-20 minutes.
Recap: Natural Remedies for Ear Infections
- Ear infections can affect anyone, especially young children.
- Ear infections can either be viral or bacterial. Treating a viral ear infection with conventional antibiotics typically is ineffective and includes undesirable side effects.
- Do ear infections clear up on their own? Yes, they certainly can, especially when you help boost your or your child’s immune system!
12 Natural Remedies for Ear Infections
- Frankincense essential oil
- Garlic oil
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Ear candling
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Colloidal Silver
- Heat & rest