Ear infections can be really uncomfortable and painful for children and seeing your child in pain is something no parent wants. Though ear infections are more common in younger children, grown up kids and adults can also have it. Good thing is that for most of the ear infections or ear pain, your child might not even need medications. In this article, you will know about the best and most effective home remedies for ear infections.
What is an Ear infection?
An ear infection is an infection of the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. It might be caused by a bacteria or virus in the ear. Ear infections often happen as a result of allergies, colds, or upper respiratory problems. When the tubes inside the ear fill up with fluid and mucus, this causes an infection. Acute Otitis Media (AOM) is the most common ear infection.
Signs and symptoms of ear Infections in Children:
- Ear pain, especially when lying down
- Tugging or pulling at an ear
- Trouble sleeping
- Crying more than usual
- Trouble hearing or responding to sounds
- Loss of balance
- Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher
- Drainage of fluid from the ear
- Loss of appetite (Tips to improve appetite?)
- Sore throat
When to see a Doctor?
It is important to get an accurate diagnosis and rule out any other severe conditions. You should call your child’s doctor if:
- Symptoms last for more than a day
- Your baby is less than 6 months old with any of the above symptoms
- Ear pain is severe
- Your infant or toddler is sleepless or irritable after a cold or other upper respiratory infection
- You observe a discharge or fluid from the ear
Your doctor will advise medications or suggest going with the home remedies depending on the severity of the infection. The latest guidelines from the American Association of Pediatrics suggest that doctors should focus on pain management, not antibiotics, for ear infections. This is because ear infections often go away on their own, and the overuse of antibiotics could lead to antibiotic-resistant infections.
Causes of Ear Infections in Children:
Many times, ear infections are caused from another illness like cold, flu or allergy, that results in congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat and eustachian tubes. (What are some foods & remedies for cough and cold?)
Other possible causes for an earache or ear infection are mentioned below:
11 Home Remedies for Ear Infections in Children:
1.Cold or Warm Compresses
One of the best home remedies for ear infections in children is using warm and cold compresses. Hold either a hot pad or cold washcloth against the ear for 10 to 15 minutes or alternate between hot and cold.
2. Neck exercises
Ear infections cause pressure in the ear canal which can be relieved by Neck exercises. Here’s how to do neck-rotation exercises:
- Sit or stand up straight.
- Rotate your neck to the right, so it’s parallel with your right shoulder. Hold for five to 10 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise on the left side.
- Raise your shoulders high like you’re trying to reach your earlobes with them. Hold for five to 10 seconds.
- Repeat these exercises throughout the day.
3. Olive oil
Though there is no solid scientific evidence to prove that drops of olive oil in your ear canal can soothe ear pain. However, according to the American Association of Pediatrics, putting a few warm drops of olive oil in the ear is safe and could be moderately effective.
For young children, it is advisable to consult a doctor before giving oil. Another important point is to make sure the olive oil is no warmer than your body temperature so as to avoid burning the eardrum.
Oil made from the flowers of the mullein plant is an effective pain reliever for ear infections. Mullein is available at most health food stores as a stand-alone tincture or as an ingredient in herbal ear drops.
Vitamin D may seem unrelated to ear infections, but it is known to boost immunity. And a healthier immune system is less likely to be susceptible to ear infections. (How some foods can help to boost immunity?) According to a 2017 study, the risk of ear infections might be reduced by increasing serum levels of vitamin D through food consumption, supplementation, and direct sunlight.
6. Garlic oil
Due to its antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, garlic oil ear drops can be applied to the ear canal to help kill bacteria or viruses that might be causing an ear infection. You can also soak crushed garlic cloves in warm olive oil to make your own garlic oil ear drops. Hence, garlic oil is one of the best home remedies for ear infections.
Chiropractic adjustments may help relieve tight muscles around the ear, which will allow trapped fluid to drain. According to this study where 46 children aged 5 & below participated, 93 percent of them showed improvement following chiropractic adjustments. 43 percent of the children felt better after only one or two sessions.
8. Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide can help keep ears clean and prevent dirt or additional bacteria from entering the middle ear. It is especially useful for preventing swimmer’s ears. Swab a tiny amount of hydrogen peroxide onto the ear canal, but be careful that too much doesn’t get into the ear itself.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and thus applying ginger in juice form or as infused oil to the outer ear canal can help to relieve the ear infection. But never put it directly into the ear.
Resting or sleeping sitting upright rather than lying down can encourage fluid in your ear to drain. This could ease pressure and pain in your middle ear. Prop yourself up in bed with a stack of pillows, or sleep in a reclining armchair. (Foods for sound sleep?)
Sometimes distraction helps to take your child’s mind off the pain or discomfort they are suffering.
You may want to:
- Put on their favorite movie
- Engage them in colouring or drawing activity
- Allow them a bubble bath with lots of toys
- Let them play a game on your phone or tablet
- Give them their favorite snack (Healthy recipes for kids?)
- Find other things for them to focus on
If your child is of teething age, offer cooled teething toys for chewing.
These home remedies for ear infections should help to relieve your child from any discomfort or ear pain. But if the problem continues, it is advisable to see a pediatrician.
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