Few things tend to make a child as miserable as an ear infection. Unfortunately, they’re common for kids between the ages of 6 months and 3 years.
It doesn’t help that they’re every bit as mysterious as they are agonizing.
The good news is that, with the right knowledge, treating a child’s ear infection can be simple. Let’s explore the causes of ear infections in children and the things you as a parent can do to relieve the pain.
“Mommy, why does my ear hurt so much?”
Ear infections in children are usually caused by bacteria originating from a respiratory infection (i.e. cold, sore throat, etc) that finds its way into the middle ear, which is on the other side of the eardrum.
A ruptured eardrum is also a common cause of ear infections in children. When the eardrum is ruptured due to intense sound pressure, poking with a q-tip or even the vacuum created by bottle feeding, bacteria can enter the middle ear through this hole and cause an infection.
What are the signs of an ear infection?
If your child is old enough to speak, he or she may complain of the following symptoms:
- Intense ear pain that gets worse when lying down
- Difficulty hearing
- A severe headache
If your child cannot speak, look out for the following signs of an infection:
- Frequent tugging or pulling at the ear
- Difficulty sleeping
- Crying more than usual
- Loss of balance
- A fever 100º Fahrenheit or higher
- Drainage of fluid from the ear
- Loss of appetite
Once you’ve met with your child’s doctor to determine the cause and nature of the ear infection, consider the following natural remedies.
Further, many doctors will recommend over-the-counter pain medications containing acetaminophen, which may reduce empathy, and dull emotions.
If these side effects are concerning to you, ask your child’s doctor if the following natural remedies may be more suited to his or her case.
1. Mullein Oil
Mullein oil comes from the mullein flower and can be bought in two varieties – as an essential oil and as a compound mixed with a base oil like olive oil.
For the purpose of remedying your child’s earache, you’ll want to buy the compound form of mullein oil.
Get the oil as close to your child’s body temperature as possible to avoid causing dizziness or vertigo. Then, proceed to place 3-4 drops of mullein oil in the affected ear.
Have your child lie flat with the ear containing the oil facing upward for three minutes. Afterwards, drain the ear.
Mullein oil is an antibacterial and anti-fungal oil which will help with the removal of the bacteria at the root of your child’s ear infection.
2. Essential Oil Massage
Massaging your child’s outer ear, face, jaw and neck areas with diluted essential oil can help improve circulation and ear drainage, which will speed up the recovery process.
It can also provide relief from pain and help your child get to sleep.
First, choose a kid-friendly essential oil geared towards antibacterial use. These include:
- Juniper Berry
- Tea Tree
Next, dilute the essential oil with the following ratio: 1 drop of essential oil for every 4 drops of your base oil.
Then, gently massage in a downward direction from behind your child’s ear, moving to the neck and cheek. Do not place pure essential oil in your child’s ear.
3. Salt Sock
Many people, including Dr. Dana Clum, swear by using a salt sock for relieving the pain of ear infections naturally.
The sock is essentially a warm compress that relieves the pressure in your child’s ear.
Begin by getting a clean, plain white sock. (Colored socks contain flammable material that will melt.)
Next, you’ll need roughly 1 to 1.5 cups of coarse sea salt. Pour the salt into the sock and tie a knot at the end. Place the sock in a clean skillet over medium heat for roughly 5 minutes. Flip it periodically to ensure that the heat is distributed evenly.
Have your child hold the sock against his or her jaw bone until sufficient relief is felt.
4. Garlic Oil
Garlic is a potent natural antibiotic that can work wonders for fighting your child’s ear infection when turned into an oil.
Begin by chopping one clove of garlic and placing it into a small pan.
Next, add olive oil to cover the clove. Let the clove steep in the hot oil for 45 minutes. Strain the garlic out and allow the oil to cool.
Place this in a dropper and put one or two drops in your child’s ear several times throughout the day. Have the child lie flat until the oil has been absorbed. Wipe away any oil that leaks out when your child returns to an upright position.