During winter, ear infections are a common issue for kids to experience. Many parents will head to their local doctor, and, more often than not, walk out with a prescription for antibiotics. There is a time and a place for antibiotic use. But natural treatment for ear infections may be a healthier approach in the long run.
Watch the video or continue reading below to find out more about natural treatment for ear infections.
A Note On Common Treatments For Ear Infections
Ear infections are the number one reason that kids are prescribed antibiotics. But research shows that antibiotics are often ineffective for ear infections! These infections are often viral, which means antibiotics won’t make a difference. But even if it is a bacterial infection, it’s been found that ear infections will usually self-resolve. So most of the time, it’s not necessary to use antibiotics.
Antibiotics can also lead to more chronic health issues, as they damage the good bacteria in the gut. Antibiotic use can also adversely affect the immune system, leaving children vulnerable to infection. As you can see, it’s a bit of a cycle! There are cases where use is warranted. But for the most part, they do more damage than good for ear infections.
As parents, we often get nervous about ears – we don’t want our children’s hearing to be affected. But it’s important to understand that antibiotics don’t have to be the first step when it comes to ear infections. In fact, Australian guidelines recommend against the immediate use of antibiotics with ear infections. It’s best to sit back and observe. But in the meantime, you can consider using natural treatment for ear infections.
Another common management strategy is grommets. Grommets are effective at draining fluid from the middle ear, but they are essentially a bandaid solution. The fluid is there because of inflammation and a reactive immune system – draining it away won’t address the cause of infection.
Common Causes Of Ear Infections
Before we jump into natural treatments for ear infections, it’s important to understand why they occur.
Research has shown that up to 78% of kids who experience recurrent ear infections have a food allergy or sensitivity.
The most common food intolerance that can contribute to ear infections is dairy. It’s amazing how many times I see this in clinic! Other intolerances can be involved, including gluten, eggs and citrus, but dairy is the number one culprit.
However, I don’t recommend eliminating dairy solo. Working with a practitioner is the best way to make sure you’re eliminating it fully and still meeting your child’s nutritional needs. For example, dairy is a common source of calcium – but there are still plenty of non-dairy foods you can add in to increase calcium intake if your child goes dairy-free.
Even in Australia, where it’s almost always sunny, vitamin D deficiency is a huge problem. This is partly because many kids don’t play outside enough anymore. The immune system needs vitamin D to function properly. Without enough vitamin D, it can’t protect against viruses and bacteria properly.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient. Giving high doses can be dangerous if not monitored. Working with a practitioner will help you to figure out if a supplement is needed, or if you can boost their vitamin D with sunshine and food.
There are other nutrients and factors to consider when it comes to immunity that are all important. These include vitamin C, vitamin A and zinc. If your child has low immunity because of a lack of these nutrients, they will be at a higher risk of developing an ear infection.
It’s important to remember that ear infections are usually a secondary infection that comes after a cold or flu. The first infection blocks up the nasal passage and ears, leaving them vulnerable to infection. Using immune-boosting steps whenever your child has a cold or cough can reduce the chances of it developing into an ear infection.
Natural Treatment For Ear Infections: My Top 3 Picks
Identify any food allergies or sensitivities
This is the first step to manage ear infections naturally. You don’t have to do a heap of testing – a thorough case-taking with a practitioner can offer plenty of clues about which foods might be causing problems. Once foods are identified, you want to remove them from your child’s diet. As with any major change to the diet, the best way to do this is with supervision.
Add in immune-boosting nutrients
Vitamin A, C, D and zinc are some of the most essential nutrients for the immune system. Incorporating them into the diet by focusing on wholefoods is a great starting point. But if your child experiences recurrent ear infections, a supplement might be warranted. A practitioner can prescribe a great immune-boosting supplement that suits your child’s needs.
Probiotics are another supplement to consider. But not all probiotics are equal! Different strains have different effects on the body. My top tip? The strain L rhamnosus GG (or LGG for short) is one of the best strains out there for balancing the immune system. The best way to find a quality probiotic is to work with a practitioner who can select one based on your child’s case.
Look to natural topical treatments
Topical oils are another great natural treatment for ear infections. Garlic oil and mullein oil are two oils that can be effective with ear infections. Eyebright is a herb that has potent anti-catarrh action, so it reduces congestion in the ear. You can use it either topically or as a tea.
If you are looking for some ideas for snacks that aren’t packed with sugar or additives, make sure you check out my ebook, 15 Quick & Healthy Snack Ideas For Kids. These snacks are not only easy to make, but they will help support your child’s nutrient levels and boost immunity.
If you want to look deeper into using a natural treatment for ear infections, book in a consultation today.