Do your kids experience recurring ear infections? They may recover for a few weeks, get a cold and then… boom! They have another one, and once again, you take them to the doctor and give them antibiotics, which weakens their immune system and makes them even more susceptible. If this sounds familiar, then this post is for you. You can break this cycle and heal ear infections naturally!
You may have been told that the only way to get rid of an ear infection is with antibiotics, but I am here to tell you, that is not true! Truthfully, it is not a great method at all, which you already know if your child gets them frequently. In fact, using antibiotics can actually contribute to recurring ear infections, so if you want to improve your child’s overall health and stop the recurring ear infection cycle, follow these 5 steps to heal ear infections naturally. Here is what I have done for my children:
1. Put ear oil or breast milk in your child’s ears. Ear oil is usually made of mullein and/or garlic infused into olive oil. It may contain some other ingredients as well. I have used this for my children with great success. It is readily available at health food stores; my recommended brand is Wally’s Ear Oil. And, yes you heard right, I said breast milk. Most mommas know by now the wonderful nutritional benefits of breastfeeding, but did you know that it is also a tool you can use topically? Breast milk has built in antibodies, so it can help relieve and heal ear infections. (It is also great for nasal congestion, so if you are a nursing momma, you have built in “medicine”). These can be used even if your child is already on antibiotics. Not only are you treating the infection with this method, but you are also treating the inflammation and soothing the pain. I remember distinctly one trip I made to the doctor after a sleepless night for my daughter and myself because of her ears being infected. I was told, “the ears are not a very vascular area, so by the time the antibiotics start to work, using ear oil or breast milk can be more effective.” I have not used antibiotics for ear infections since.
Because it can take weeks for all the fluid and inflammation to be gone from your child’s ear, be sure to continue drops of ear oil or breast milk for at least the week following your child’s ear infection, and if your child is extremely prone to ear infections, start them as soon as there is a sign of nasal congestion.
2. Give your child Vitamin C. Vitamin C is anti-inflammatory, so it is great for sore, inflamed ears. It will help your child’s body fight off the infection, and it will help soothe the inflammation. It is water soluble, so it does not store in the body, but too much of it can cause upset tummies, so I would recommend giving small doses frequently throughout the day.
3. Give your child probiotics. In my blog post How Antibiotics Affect Your Immune System and What to Do About It I discussed the importance of probiotics to your immunity. This is especially true if you have recently been on antibiotics, which is often the case when there are recurring ear infections. It is essential to give a high quality probiotic, and I would dose my child heavily after a course of antibiotics or a recurring bout with ear infections. It will help your child’s body heal and will help prevent future illnesses by boosting his/her immune system.
4. Give your child Vitamin D supplements or get them in the sun without sunscreen. I talk about Vitamin D in my blog post 5 Supplements To Help You Avoid Getting Sick During the Cold and Flu Season. The truth is, Vitamin D is one supplement that I will never be without. I keep it in my Vitamin cabinet and use it extensively for myself and my children. More and more studies have been done in recent years that show the importance of Vitamin D to our body’s well-being. It is essential to good immune function, and with the low amounts we get in food and the wide use of sunscreen, most people are not getting enough, particularly in the winter months.
5. Use breast milk, saline spray or xylitol nasal spray to clear your child’s sinuses. If your child is the least bit stuffy, this can help shrink the sinus passages, clear mucous and fight infection. I’ve talked about the importance of breast milk above, and most people have heard of saline spray, but you may be wondering what on earth xylitol nasal spray is. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that is found in berries, birch, corn, plums and mushrooms. It is used as a low calorie, low glycemic sweetener, but it was also discovered that xylitol does not allow bacteria to adhere to surfaces; hence its use in nasal sprays (and tooth paste). It can help to clear the bacteria in the sinus cavities that contribute to ear infections.
Generally, I do take my children to the doctor if they are running a high fever or if their infection doesn’t seem to be clearing after a few days. Use wise judgment in this regard. If your child is seriously ill, they need to be seen by a physician. I always ask my doctor if I can hold off on giving antibiotics or if my child absolutely needs them to get well. Most often, I can wait and let my child’s immune system fight the ear infection and become stronger.
I think it is obvious that I seldom medicate, but if my child is very uncomfortable, I will give them ibuprofen to shrink the inflammation in the ear and allow them to rest more comfortably. Sleep is an important part of the healing process, so if they are in a lot of pain and not able to sleep, it is counter-productive to their body healing itself.
It is also helpful to have your child sleep on an incline and avoid blowing their nose when they have an ear infection. This can help him be more comfortable while his body is recuperating. And be patient! It may seem like it takes longer for your child to bounce back if you typically give him antibiotics, but if you continue to let his body heal his ear infection naturally through proper nutrition and supplementation, you will begin to notice fewer illnesses and quicker recoveries.