How to treat an ear infection naturally!
I had hoped I would never need to write this post, but alas...one of my two kids is not like the other, and has seems to be a little more prone to ear infections than her sister. She eats a very clean diet, but when she gets a bad cold, her ears don't drain properly and it leads to inflammation and an ear infection.
What is the one word you automatically think of when you hear that someone you know has an ear infection?... ANTIBIOTICS! Antibiotics have been the standard treatment of choice since I was a child. However, recent research suggests that not ALL ear infections require antibiotic support and that the majority (80%) of ear infections resolve themselves within 10 days without any antibiotic support.
As a nurse, I am often concerned about the long term effects of whatever decision a parent feels they need to make for their child. Some of the risks of repeat antibiotic use are negative affects on gut health. Since your gut is 70-80% of your immune system, its a big problem to continually be wiping out the beneficial bacteria in your gut with antibiotic use. Most research shows that it takes at least 6 months to replenish the beneficial bugs in your gut after each antibiotic use. However, there is also a very small risk of ear infections getting to the point where it leads to infection in the inner ear or the bone behind the ear, or in a very small number of patients, scar tissue leading to decreased hearing. So please keep in mind that with all the suggestions I share below, make sure you are working alongside your practitioner to find the best solution for your family!
So...if you don't need to treat them with antibiotics, what can you use instead?
Lucky for you, we have recently just successfully treated an ear infection naturally! Here is what we did:
Elderberry Syrup: We had already begun using Black Elderberry Syrup which I shared here is part of our winter wellness routine. Elderberry stimulates and supports the immune system so that it is more robust and can fight off bugs effectively! You can order it here very affordably! They also have the adult version here. I cant recommend this brand enough! Gaia produces very high quality products very affordably. I increased the dose slightly when my 3 year old began showing symptoms of an ear infection.
Vitamin C: I added this vitamin C powder to the Elderberry syrup and diluted it with water. She loves the taste of elderberry syrup but isn't a fan of this vitamin C powder. Keep in mind, not all vitamin C is created equal. This brand and form of vitamin C is my favorite because it is readily absorbed by the body, and you get a pretty hefty dose in a very small amount. I've had this one bottle for almost 2 years! I did the elderberry/vitamin C combo according to the instructions on the elderberry packaging, up to 4 times a day.
Chiropractic care. I don't know why this didn't occur to me the moment she had a cold, but for whatever reason (aka sleep deprivation). Chiropractic care helps to align the body so that lymphatic fluid can drain properly, thus decreasing the chances of getting an ear infection, and increasing the potential to get rid of it once you get an adjustment. We had 2 back to back adjustments 2 days a part, and noticed that her lymph node was less swollen immediately, and the ear infection gone by the following day.
Essential oils: Essential oils are highly effective at not only supporting the immune system, but also at going after unwanted "visitors" if they've begun to make themselves at home in your system. I made a blend of Thieves (hefty immune support), copaiba (to help with inflammation), and purification essential oils in a roller bottle with avocado oil (you can use any carrier oil of choice). Add 20 drops of each of the above oils in a roller bottle, fill to the top with carrier oil and roll the blend behind the ears, around the front of the ear, and along the jaw line 3-4 times per day for best results. You can get the oils here, and the roller bottles here!
Warm compress. I was 100% not successful in getting my toddler to comply to this, however, warm compresses help bring blood flow to the ear, as well as easing pain.
Of course, while I am a trained medical professional, I cannot provide medical advice in this forum. It is really important whenever you are treating any illness, even naturally, to be working closely with your medical provider. Our chiropractor assessed our 3 year olds ears both before and after all treatments and we successfully cleared the infection!
That being said, here are some things you can watch for if you're not sure which way your treatment is going: If they have a fever that does not break within 72 hours (for anyone over 1 year of age), get them checked out. If they have a fever that breaks, then returns after a few days, you'll want to have them assessed. I knew she was getting better because she got better, not worse. Any worsening of symptoms would have been an indication to possibly consider antibiotics.
I hope this helps, and as always, please comment if you have any questions!
To your wellness,