Earaches are one of the most common complaints in babies, as they have several causes and can occur frequently. Earaches can occur when pressure changes in the middle ear (think flying or driving through elevation changes), from the inflammation that accompanies teething, from build up of fluid behind the ear drum, and from viral or bacterial infections.
Unfortunately it is very difficult to distinguish the cause of an earache from one look at the eardrum, so the safest option is for your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic anytime the eardrum is red and causing the child pain. Antibiotics are being extremely over-used, and the long term implications of that are starting to manifest themselves. We are now seeing the damage caused to the intestinal tract and the immune system with chronic antibiotic use, as well as the emergence of “super bugs”- bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. When you use an antibiotic to kill a bacteria, the bacteria learns from that experience and finds a way to come back stronger and stronger each time thereafter. Antibiotics save lives, that is without question. However knowing how to avoid antibiotics when possible is very important.
The following is a list of things you can do to remedy your child’s earache at home.
- Massage. Fluid accumulation behind the eardrum is common in children because the shape of their Eustachian tube is more horizontal than the vertical shape of adults. This makes it harder for fluid to drain from the ear. The build-up of this fluid can cause pressure and pain, and when left untreated may lead to an infection. To help the fluid drain, massage behind the ear, placing your finger in that indentation where the ear meets the jaw bone. With firm pressure (as tolerated) drag your finger down the neck following the jawline. This gets the lymph moving (you may even feel swollen lymph nodes). Repeat several times.
- Garlic & Mullein ear drops. This stuff is AMAZING. Garlic is strong enough to kill streptococcus, which is the culprit behind almost every bacterial ear infection. One drop of this garlic oil in the ear three times a day can usually replace the need for an antibiotic. It not only kills bacteria but also eases the pain, as it contains St. John’s wort and calendula oil. You should see relief quickly. I recommend having this on hand at all times if you are the parent of young children! It is also a great preventative- if your little one gets a respiratory illness you can start these drops before an earache develops, and help prevent one from coming. NOTE: If there is any drainage coming from the ear, DO NOT place any drops inside the ear, as this indicates a ruptured ear drum. You can buy Mullein Garlic on Amazon here.
3. Herbal Antibiotics: Such a great alternative to antibiotics! These herbal compounds are safe for use for either viral or bacterial ear infections, and will not negatively affect gut flora. A true ear infection is the result of the bacteria Strep. Goldenseal is amazing at treating Strep. There is a good Goldenseal/Echinacea blend made especially for kids that I always keep on hand and have had great success in using. You can shop for that HERE as well as a childrens specific herbal biotic HERE, that I use in conjunction with the Goldenseal/Echinacea blend.
4. Immune Support. I discussed ways to support the immune system of a child in this blog post. A healthy immune is critical in preventing frequent illnesses. Load your little one up on fresh fruits & veggies (I love green smoothies!) to boost their vitamin C and immune system.
5. Essential oils. Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. They can be used externally during your lymphatic massage to decrease pain and help kill any pathogens. [Never place the essential oils directly inside the ear]. Lavender, immortelle (Helichrysum) and Nauli essential oils, along with St. Johns Wort can really calm the inflammation and pain quickly. You can place these on a cotton ball and place in the ear if your child will let you- having them on a cotton ball inside the ear is completely safe. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil such as St Johns Wort, coconut, or jojoba oil so they are not too strong for your child. Apply oils in front of and behind the ear three times a day or as needed. I use Primavera essential oils because they are organic, high quality, and very pure. You can shop for them here.
6. Alternative healing. My favorite alternative healing therapy is foot zoning, but it is not used as widespread as things like chiropractic adjustments- which I also really love. A simple adjustment can help get the fluid draining properly from the ear.
7. Baltic Amber necklace. Baltic Amber contains a substance called succinic acid, which is released when the amber is warmed by your body temperature. The succinic acid reduces inflammation and pain and is great to treat pain associated with teething, growing, earaches, and sore throat. It also has properties which strengthen the bodies immune system! How amazing is that. It is best to have your child wear the necklace every day, on any part of the body, for prevention and management of pain from any cause. This is my favorite Amber necklace.
8. Other comfort measures: fill a water bottle 3/4 of the way full with warm water. Wrap in towel and place behind Childs ear in neck groove.
Please use your judgement, and be aware of times when you should take your child in. If the earache does not resolve or is accompanied by a fever lasting more than 5 days, or any other concerning symptoms, make sure you go see your doctor. *These are simply the things that have worked for me and should not be taken as medical advice.
Being a parent is hard work and we all just want what is best for our children. My goal is to help parents take their children’s health into their own hands, by learning ways to keep them healthy and care for various ailments at home. It is easy to feel useless when your baby is sick, and that is what needs to change. There ARE things you can do!
I hope you have found this post helpful, let me know if you have any questions.