It’s estimated that 80% of toddlers in the U.S. will be diagnosed with an ear infection by the time they’re 3 years old. Ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their children to see a doctor.
An ear infection is an inflammation of the middle ear that happens when fluid, full of bacteria, builds up behind the eardrum.
Babies and young kids are most susceptible to ear infections. That’s because of the position of the Eustachian tube in kids versus adults. It’s also because the immune systems in kids are fully developing and, in many instances, compromised by vaccines.
The Eustachian tube connects the space between the eardrum and the back of the nose. In kids, this tube is positioned at a horizontal angle, whereas in adults it’s diagonal or vertical. This tube is also smaller in kids than it is in adults. This horizontal positioning in kids means fluids drain directly into the ear instead of draining down with gravity. If these tubes are blocked with mucus or swollen, it can be quite difficult for the fluid to drain.
What Causes an Ear Infection?
Ear infections in toddlers most commonly stem from sore throats, colds or upper respiratory infections. Allergies can also cause ear infections.
Other risk factors can also lead to ear infections in children. These include:
- Vaccines – vaccines poison our children and weaken their developing immune system. Read more about the hazards of vaccines.
- Bottle-feeding (1) – infants that are bottle-fed have a higher incidence of ear infections than their breast-fed counterparts. The antibodies in breastmilk help fight infection.
- Smoke (2) – smoke can irritate the eustachian tube, which increases the odds of an ear infection.
- Diet- most kids’ diets consist of lots of dairy and sugar. Sugar and dairy cause inflammation and fuel for infection. Feed your kids a Paleo diet. Paleo has no sugar or dairy. Go Paleo and reduce your risk.
- Lack of sunshine- the benefits of the sun extend to every facet of health. Ear infections are no different. Higher levels of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, are linked to a lower risk of ear infections.
7 Natural Treatments for Ear Infections in Kids
1. Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care has been proven to improve the function of the nervous system while boosting the immune system. Both factors are great in both the prevention and treatment of toddler ear infections.
Most importantly, studies show in clinical trials that chiropractic care is an effective way to reduce the symptoms of ear infections (3).
I have seen my wife use chiropractic to resolve ear infections. The child is up and running in no time.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil kills the bacteria that cause ear infections. It’s naturally anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. Its anti-inflammatory properties mean it reduces inflammation, pain and irritation. Finally, it helps remove the impurities that clog the ear and helps drain them safely from the middle ear and eardrum.
One drop twice a day can work. Many people also mix tea tree oil with coconut oil, olive oil and liquid silver. Rub the mixture on the outside of the ear for relief. Argentyn silver is our choice. Give it orally too. Directions are on the bottle. Zinc has evidence of benefit as well. 30 mg daily should suffice for short-term immune support.
3. Garlic Oil
Garlic is great for infections and hundreds of studies confirm its value. Garlic can relieve pain and studies have shown it effective in fighting either viral or bacterial ear infections in kids. Sneak some raw garlic into food or juice. In case your child absolutely refuses to eat garlic, you can also get a garlic oil. At the first signs of ear pain, place a drop of organic garlic oil in your child’s ear 3-4 times a day. You can buy organic garlic oil online for around $15. Do not use garlic oil with a perforated eardrum.
Applying heat can be very soothing AND improve circulation to the region. Soak a washcloth in hot water and apply to the external ear. Massage the child’s scalp and neck is also soothing and improves lymphatic drainage.
5. Onion Muffs
Onion muffs are like ear muffs made from onions. These onion muffs can be quite effective in treating a pediatric ear infection.
Onions are well-known for their curative properties, both antiviral and antibacterial. Placing a warm onion directly over the ear delivers medicated vapors directly to the ear. The warmth as serves to reduce the pain.
To make onion ear muffs, simply slice an organic onion in half. Warm the onion by letting it simmer in hot water until soft. Then, wrap it in a cloth and place it over your child’s ear (s) for about 3-5 minutes. Repeat this process about 3 times per day.
Caution – make sure the onion and cloth aren’t too hot before placing them over your child’s ear. Test it first!
6. Air Purifier
Using an air purifier can help to counteract poor indoor air quality. Experts say indoor air is often 5 times more harmful than outdoor air. Good quality indoor air helps counterbalance dryness. It helps reduce swelling and can help thin the mucus in the Eustachian tubes. We use the Austin Bedroom Air Purification System.
For low risk kids with mild symptoms, a wait-and-watch approach is best. Wait between 24-48 hours, maybe even 72, to see if things get better. Most often they do! The body has wonderful mechanisms to heal itself.
The Problems with Antibiotics and Ibuprofen
Most doctors prescribe antibiotics for ear infections in kids. In fact, pediatric ear conditions are the most common ailment that antibiotics are prescribed for in the U.S.
There are problems with using antibiotics however, especially with small children.
Public health experts have warned of the dangers of overusing antibiotics. In fact, ABC News reported that conventional medical experts believe doctors are prescribing antibiotics to kids about twice as often as they are needed.
I believe the number to be much larger.
Kids treated with typical doses of antibiotics for ear infections continue to have problems, according to a study by PLOS One. They are more likely to develop biofilm in the ear and more likely to have chronic ear infections in the future.
Antibiotics have been shown to harmfully alter the microbiome and healthy gut flora that fight off infections. This damage can be permanent. Antibiotics can lead to a compromised immune system, diarrhea, and intestinal yeast.
It’s for these reasons that I recommend a plan of prevention and natural treatment for ear infections in kids.
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, commonly known as NSAID, that is often prescribed by pediatricians to lessen pain and reduce inflammation. There are many problems with this Big Pharma med. Drugs.com has a whole list of the adverse effects of ibuprofen on children.
Current studies also show Ibuprofen to adversely interfere with human fetal development. That finding alone gives me pause as a physician. Generic Tylenol is likely just as damaging.
There are natural ways to treat ear infections in children. I urge you to try them.