Today I’m sharing how to treat ear infections naturally using home remedies. These remedies provide relief from the pain and discomfort of ear infections, and have helped us to avoid the use of antibiotics. I hope these remedies are helpful for you and your family as well!
This is part of a series that I’m sharing of natural protocols for common illnesses. So, stay tuned as I share other home remedies in the coming weeks!
This past week my girls have been struggling to fight off ear infections. They were sick with a cold a couple of weeks ago, and inevitably, here we are. Ear infections are quite common for children since their eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat, are smaller and more horizontal than adults. This means that bacteria, viruses, and fluid can build up behind the eardrum causing pain.
If you go to the doctor, they will likely prescribe antibiotics for your child’s ear infection, however, many ear infections are viral in nature. Since antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses, they are unnecessary and ineffective against these viral ear infections. In addition, research has shown that most ear infections resolve without the use of any medication. Moreover, antibiotics do not distinguish between healthy bacteria (like some of the bacteria found in your gut) and bad bacteria (like the kind that can cause an ear infection). This can cause a whole host of other health issues.
For example, in this study 10,220 children received at least 1 antibiotic prescription during the first 2 years of life. Early antibiotic exposure was associated with an increased risk of childhood-onset asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, celiac disease, overweight, obesity, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This is not to say that antibiotics are never needed, but I do try to avoid them if at all possible. So, let’s talk about how to treat ear infections naturally, without the use of antibiotics.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. This post was not written to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. This is just my experience of what I do with my family. In addition, if there is any fluid draining out of the ear, or if you suspect that there may be a ruptured ear drum, please do not put ANYTHING into the ear. Take your child to the doctor right away. And ALWAYS use your intuition when it comes to your child’s health. You know your child and what they need better than anyone else.
5 Steps to Treat Ear Infections Naturally:
1. Warm Compresses
When I notice that one of my girls has an ear ache the first thing I do is heat up a warm compress to place over their ear. The warmth brings relief to any pain they may be experiencing, and it also increases circulation and blood flow to the area to promote healing. This hippo heating pad can be thrown into the microwave and is so adorable! They have lots of other animals to choose from as well.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Next, I mix solution of 50% hydrogen peroxide and 50% water and pour that into the ear canal. This is easiest if your child is lying down on their side. We usually let our older daughter watch a show while we wait for this to bubble. Warning- she HATES it, but I know it’s working because it bubbles like crazy. After about 10-15 minutes we drain the ear using a clean washcloth. We usually do this once in the morning and once at night each day that we’re treating the infection.
3. Mullein Garlic Ear Oil
We follow the hydrogen peroxide up with mullein garlic ear oil. We warm the oil by placing the bottle in a shallow bowl of warm water (obviously don’t submerge it completely), or by putting it in my bra or a pocket. You want it to be as close to body temperature as possible. After it’s warm, we place a couple drops into the affected ear and GENTLY massage the back of the ear to make sure the oil is where it needs to be. Then we let it sit in the ear canal for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, we leave it in the ear and place a small piece of cotton in the outer ear to prevent the oil from getting onto anything. We usually do this 3 times a day, every day while we are treating the infection.
4. Sovereign Silver Drops
If I’m using the warm compress, the hydrogen peroxide, and the garlic oil but it seems like the infection isn’t clearing up, then I incorporate Sovereign Silver drops. These drops are appropriate for children who are 4 years old or older. I will add these drops in to the regimen after the hydrogen peroxide, before adding the garlic oil. After warming the drops as I described above, I place a couple of drops into the ear canal, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then drain it onto a clean washcloth. We usually use this 2-3 times a day while we are treating the infection.
Keep in mind that these drops are made with silver which is a metal. Even though the bottle states that Sovereign Silver Drops fall below the EPA’s daily Oral Silver Reference Dose, I choose not to use them orally, and use them sparingly when I do. Again, always use your own intuition and do your own research when it comes to making informed choices for your child’s health.
5. Lavender & Tea Tree Roller Bottle
This is one of my favorite tools to have on hand! Growing up, my mom’s answer for every ailment was Tea Tree oil. And for good reason! Tea Tree is packed with antibiotic properties! Now that I have my own kids, I love using essential oils to support their health as well.
To make this lavender and tea tree roller bottle, I put 1 drop of organic lavender oil, and 1 drop of organic tea tree oil into the bottom of the glass roller bottle, then filled the bottle with organic fractionated coconut oil. That’s it! Just pop the top on and it’s ready to use. I like to warm it up and apply this behind the ear and down the neck to help soothe any discomfort associated with the ear ache.
Not all essential oils are created equal. I, personally, love Plant Therapy oils! They are high quality, third party GC/MS tested, affordable, and they have a whole Kidsafe line which gives me so much peace of mind. While I was researching for this post I also found this Ear Relief Kidsafe Essential Oil blend! I haven’t tried it, but it has 475 5 star reviews! You can click here for $10 off your first purchase of $20 or more.
One more note, because essential oils are so powerful, some oils are not safe to be used with children. With this in mind, I always use caution when choosing which oils to use, and I always make sure to use the proper dilution rate for my child’s age. Another great resource for safely using essential oils with your children is The Complete Book of Essential Oils for Mama and Baby: Safe and Natural Remedies for Pregnancy, Birth, and Children. I love this book and use it frequently!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure here.
Immune Support to Help Treat Ear Infections Naturally
We recently switched to exclusively using liquid vitamins and supplements for the girls, since their dentist told us that gummy vitamins are terrible for their teeth. Here are some of our favorite recommendations for immune support:
Cod liver oil– I especially love to give this to my girls after they’ve had a fever to restore their vitamin A.
Probiotics– These are pricey but they’re high quality and 1 bottle contains 1,000 servings.
Rest- This one goes without saying, but rest really is the best medicine!
Chiropractic care- Chiropractic care can help with ear infections by improving drainage, so that fluid doesn’t collect behind the ear drum, but it’s also great to support your immune system in general!
Epsom salt bath- Epsom salt is soothing and detoxifying, plus who doesn’t enjoy a warm bath?
Quality nutrition- We love to sip on warm bone broth when we’re not feeling well. This one from Kettle & Fire has anti-inflammatory turmeric and ginger in it. This one from Perfect Supplements is a powdered bone broth that you mix into water, making it easy to have a warm cup of bone broth whenever you’d like!
Other Helpful Tools to Treat Ear Infections Naturally
An otoscope- An otoscope allows you to see what’s actually going on with your child’s ear. There is a bit of a learning curve to know what, exactly, you’re looking at. However, it can be really helpful to monitor what the ears look like while you’re using these natural home remedies. If, for example, you look on day #1 before starting these remedies and the ear drum is red and bulging, then you look again on day #2 and the ear drum is a bit red but there is less inflammation and swelling, then that indicates that the treatments are working. We have this otoscope and it works really well. However, another option is this wireless otoscope ear camera that displays the image on your phone. Be aware that it does use wifi, so if you’re concerned about EMF exposure this option probably isn’t a good one for you.
A thermometer– We have used SO many thermometers over the years and this one is by far our favorite. It’s quick and accurate.
What about you?
Do you have any other tips for how to treat ear infections naturally? Share with us in the comments below!
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