5 Natural Remedies for Ear Infections
By: Dr. Stephanie Murphree, D.C.
Does your child struggle with frequent ear infections or ear pain? Ear infections can be very frustrating to deal with, especially when they effect small children. They are painful and seem to frequently accompany sinus infections and allergies.
There are three different kinds of infections that effect the ear, which are inner, outer and middle ear infections. The middle ear infection is the most common of the three types. Anyone can get ear infections, but children tend to get them more often than adults do.
What causes ear infections?
Infections of the middle ear, also known as acute otitis media, may be caused by a bacteria or virus. Viral infections lead to congestion and a buildup of fluid in the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear to the back of the throat. This buildup of congestion and fluid is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and thrive, leading to the common middle ear infection.
Children get ear infections more frequently because their Eustachian tubes are smaller and more level than those of adults. This makes the drainage of fluid even more difficult for them, even under normal conditions.
Common symptoms that accompany ear infections are ear pain and fever. Children that are not old enough to say “My ear hurts,” tend to show signs such as:
-Fluid draining from the ear
-Tugging or pulling at the ears
-Fussiness and crying
-Trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds
The common approach to healing ear infections is the prescribing of antibiotics. However, according to the CDC, middle ear infections, “may not need antibiotics in many cases because the body’s immune system can fight off the infection without antibiotic treatment, so your health care professional may recommend watchful waiting before prescribing antibiotics to you or your loved one.” Antibiotics should only be prescribed when the ear infection was caused by bacteria. Many doctors will wait 24-72 hours to see if the symptoms improve, which they often do.
Here are some ways to help boost your child’s immune system and to help remedy ear infections naturally.
5 Natural Ear Infection Remedies Include:
1. Chiropractic Care-
One of the many benefits of chiropractic care in children is the ability to help improve ear infections. When the top bone in the neck, the atlas, moves out of the correct position, it puts pressure on the spinal nerves going into the head, eyes, ears and throat. This pressure can cause a decrease in the body’s ability to naturally heal itself.
Reducing the pressure placed on the spinal nerves will allow these nerves to better communicate with the muscles inside of the ear. As these muscles begin to relax after an adjustment, it allows the ears to drain properly and release the buildup of fluid and congestion in the middle ear. It is pretty miraculous and I can personally testify to this myself with my personal experience with my child!
2. Garlic Oil-
Garlic has very strong antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties which can help rid the ear of pathogens that cause infections. “Ear Oil” can be found at most health food stores and generally comes in a bottle with a dropper for easy application.
Our gut bacteria play a large role in our body’s immune system. Making sure that we are maintaining the right amount of healthy bacteria in our gut can boost our immune system and help our body fight off infections.
Some additional ways to get probiotics are through adding things like kombucha, coconut kefir, and other probiotic-rich fermented foods into your diet.
4. Reduce Allergens-
One of the underlying problems causing frequent ear infections in your child may be food allergies. Allergies can frequently cause the buildup of fluid and congestion in the middle ear the same way that bacteria and viruses can.
If your child has allergies to gluten, nuts, dairy or any other food that they may be consuming regularly, this may be contributing to their frequent ear infections. Talk with your physician about IgG food sensitivity tests that can show you any food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances that your child may have.
Foods to avoid include:
-Common Food Allergens: nuts, conventional dairy, gluten, shrimp and peanuts.
-Conventional Dairy: Dairy products produced from pasteurized-cows milk can cause excess mucus, which can worsen infections.
-Sugar: Excess sugar increases inflammation and can decrease the immune system.
5. Vitamin D-
Vitamin D is well known for its ability to boost the immune system. Although supplements can help fill in nutritional gaps, the best way to acquire the proper amount of Vitamin D is to get 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight on the bare arms and legs every day.