Ear Infections: A Natural Approach


Three and a half years into this mom thing and I still feel like a newbie in so many areas. One area I'm slowly gaining confidence is dealing with various health issues, and doing so as naturally as possible.

I know that antibiotics are sometimes completely necessary and even life-saving. But I also think our culture often wants a quick fix for everything, and sometimes these drugs end up either doing A) nothing (as they are only effective for bacterial infections, not viral ones, and there is often no easy way to determine which you have aside from waiting) or B) doing more harm than good, resulting in antibiotic resistance, numerous side effects, and most importantly in my opinion, destroying gut flora that is key to a strong immune system.

HUGE disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, just a mom who's passionate about caring for her family and avoiding antibiotics when possible. Do your own research and consult with your own trusted medical professionals! And another disclaimer: Eloise is my only child who's had ear infections, and all of them have been when she was 2 or 3 years old. If I had a younger child with an ear infection, especially one who wasn't yet verbal, these strategies would probably differ.

When an ear infection strikes, here's what I do. The main three:

Watchful waiting-- My pediatrician told me that in Europe, when a child is diagnosed with an ear infection, they take the "watchful waiting" approach, where the parent monitors the child for two days before giving an antibiotic. Last month Eloise was diagnosed with an ear infection, and I was given an Amoxicillin prescription to fill if, in two days, she continued to have pain or if a fever developed. I never had to fill the prescription. I was advised to bring her back three weeks later to make sure the fluid was completely gone, and the doctor said she was shocked how healthy her ear looked based on how bad the infection had been.

Motrin-- Eloise seems to only ever have ear pain while lying down, so I preemptively give Motrin before naps and nighttime to help manage the pain.

Chiropractor-- This is the heaviest hitter, in my opinion. My chiropractor gives Eloise a gentle adjustment and then a vigorous massage around her sinuses, the base of the skull, and around the outside of the ears. All that fluid needs somewhere to go, and I really think this makes a big difference in speeding the healing process. Plus she loves it.

TOPICALLY:

  • peppermint and lavender oil massaged around the outside of the ear

  • oregano oil on the soles of the feet

  • Motrin always seems to take care of the pain, but if more relief was needed I would also apply a hot water bottle. I've also read about salt socks or baked onions being helpful.

ORALLY:

To avoid some of these steps you could combine the GSE and echinacea drops in Emergen-C--one of my favorite health tonics. You could also add a splash of ACV for extra benefit.

INTERNALLY:

I grew up thinking the only thing you could put in your ear is your elbow (aka nothing) but my very traditional pediatrician confirmed that half a capful of hydrogen peroxide in the ear can help clear up residual wax, and I've also read about it being helpful to do at the onset of any cold or illness. The girls don't love the feeling of it because it makes a bubbly feeling in the ear, but we try and make it funny: "Here come the bubbles!" etc. etc.

I also put these ear oil relief drops in the ears once daily. You could also do drops of breastmilk if you have it on hand.

Do you have any favorite home remedies? Do you think I'm a crazy witchdoctor? Maybe don't answer that last one :)

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