During a respiratory infection, a child’s middle ear can become filled with fluid. After the infection has passed, the fluid drains out of the middle ear, through a tube that connects it to the nose.

However, in many children, the fluid becomes trapped in the middle ear due to the small size of the tube, making proper drainage difficult.

This leads to a condition known as serous otitus media, more commonly known as “fluid in the middle ear.”

It’s the most common cause of hearing loss in children, and may affect up to 90% of all children before they reach school age.

Symptoms include:

  • Muffled hearing
  • Mild, intermittent ear pain
  • Delayed gross motor skills
  • Balance problems
  • Vertigo
Once you have consulted with your child’s doctor and received a diagnosis of fluid in the middle ear, your child may be referred to a surgeon.


Tiny tubes can be placed in the ears that help them drain. In most cases, however, children outgrow the condition as their inner ear tubes become larger with age.

If you’d like to avoid surgery, there are some things you can do at home to relieve symptoms of fluid in the middle ear.

Natural Remedies

#1 – Dietary Changes


You can begin by reducing the amount of dairy your child consumes. Dairy causes the soft tissue in the sinuses and inner ear to become swollen. In an adult, this doesn’t impact fluid drainage.

But in a child with smaller ear tubes and an existing problem with fluid in the middle ear, it can increase the problem.

Supplement your child’s diet with foods that contain the amino acid cysteine, which helps clear mucus and sinus fluid. Such foods include:

  • Chicken
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli

#2 – Eardrops


To soothe the sensation of the middle ear fluid pushing against your child’s eardrum, you can create an alcohol and white vinegar eardrop.

Create a mixture with equal amounts of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. Place this in a sterile eyedropper and put 3-4 drops in your child’s ear daily.

#3 – Nasal Spray


By gently spraying a saline solution into your child’s nose, you can help break down the mucus and congestion in the ear tube.

Begin by boiling water in a pan to sterilize it. Let this cool to room temperature and pour it into a sterile container. Add non-iodized salt and baking powder. Suck this into a bulb syringe.

To use, have your child tilt his or her head to the side and place the tip of the bulb into one nostril. Gently squeeze and allow the solution to run through the sinuses completely before blowing it out.

#4 – Tea Tree Oil Steam


Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory substance.

You’re probably familiar with its effectiveness at clearing nasal congestion, but it can also work wonders for draining fluid from the middle ear!

Add a few tea tree oil drops into a glass of boiling water. Have your child carefully tilt his or her head over the glass and let the steam enter the ear.

Do you have a method for relieving middle ear fluid? Let us know in the comments!