Updated: May 24, 2019
By Dr. Megan Touron
It can be so difficult to watch your child go through illness or pain. You may feel totally helpless when your child is struggling with something as common as an ear infection. Studies have actually shown that by the age of 3 years old, 5 out of 6 children will have experienced an inner ear infection! (1) So, the odds are if you're a parent, you'll have to experience this at least once.
There is good news. There are some completely holistic ways that you can help your child when they're dealing with a painful ear infection.
What causes an ear infection in children?
Inner ear infections occur when bacteria become lodged in the middle ear. Pain will begin when the inflammation and fluids build up. These are more common to occur in children because their eustachian tubes in their ears are still not fully developed, and more level than they are in adults (2).
It is common for eustachian tubes to swell during or after the child has suffered from a cold, allergies or throat/sinus infection. While adults still get ear infections, we see them more commonly in children due to their compromised immune systems at a young age.
How do you know if your child has an ear infection?
When children are young it is often more difficult for them to express when they are in pain or feeling uncomfortable. Things to look for include:
Tugging at the ears
Crying and irritability
Fluid draining from the ears
What are some holistic alternatives to treat ear infections?
1. Heat & Rest
The healing power of rest should never be underestimated! When your child is dealing with an ear infection or any kind of illness rest is one of the most crucial elements in allowing the body to heal. When the body is run down and tired, your immune system isn’t able to function at its fullest and can exacerbate the symptoms of any ailment.
Heat is also another tool that can be used to help with the pain of an ear infection. Applying a warm washcloth, one that is not too hot and thoroughly wrung out, over the ear while laying down is a great way to help ease some of the symptoms.
2. Diet & Supplementation
Food allergies have actually been found to be one of the leading causes of ear infections in children (5). Sometimes it may be difficult to determine if your child has an allergy to a specific food or food group if they aren’t showing the most obvious signs of an allergic attack.
If your child is suffering from recurrent ear infections it would be worthwhile to have an IgG food sensitivity test performed. This test will give you the information you need on if your child has any food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances.
Incorporating foods with immune boosting vitamins is a great way to keep our bodies healthy and lower our risk of infections. Vitamin C, which is a vitamin known to enhance the function of our immune system and decrease inflammation, can be found in many fruits and vegetables such as oranges, strawberries, red cherries, spinach, and kale (6).
Incorporating foods high in Zinc and Vitamin D3 also claim to benefit those who are suffering from ear infections. Zinc is a vitamin that aids in strengthening the immune system and preventing disease. There is some evidence in research that supports the use of zinc supplementation in healthy children under 5 years old to reduce the incidence of otitis media (7). Some foods high in zinc include shellfish, lentils, seeds, eggs, and chickpeas.
Vitamin D3 also promotes a healthy immune response. Deficiencies in vitamin D3 is very highly prevalent in children worldwide and puts them at higher risk of infections and delayed immune response (8). A study in 2017 revealed that chronic ear infection risk was significantly decreased through increased sun exposure and dietary intake of Vitamin D (9). Vitamin D can be found in foods such as tuna, salmon, almond milk, and egg yolks.
3. Garlic Oil Ear Drops
Garlic has been used as an all natural remedy for illness for thousands of years. Because of its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, it has been known to help the body fight all types of infections. Garlic oil can be found at almost all health food/supplementation stores. Usually these oils are composed of a mixture of garlic oil and olive or sesame oil. The combination of these two powerful ingredients are great to reduce pain, inflammation and even healing time in those suffering from ear infections (10)!
Ear infections in infants and children are, unfortunately, a common occurrence. The great thing is that some ear infections are able to clear up on their own without the use of antibiotics or medical intervention. Boosting the immune system and maintaining a nutritious healthy diet are a great way to ensure your body’s ability to fight off whatever is attacking it.
4. Chiropractic Care
These days, many parents are looking for more holistic ways to treat common childhood ailments. Chiropractic care has been used for a long time in restoring the body’s natural healing energy. It can be a great way to manage and relieve pain and discomfort caused by ear infections.
Under chiropractic care a patient suffering from an ear infection may experience:
Improved balance and coordination
A study performed in 1996 and published by JMPT used 46 pediatric patients under the age of 5 diagnosed with acute otitis media. The study reported that 93% of all reported cases had improved under chiropractic care (4).
Contact your pediatrician or seek emergency medical care if your child:
Develops a high fever ( 102+ degrees)
Has hearing loss
Is experiencing severe pain
Has dizziness or loss of balance
Has a loss of facial movements on one side of face
These can be very serious issues that will need to be addressed immediately by your medical doctor or emergency medical care.
If you'd like to learn more, here are some other great posts you may enjoy:
Or, click here to schedule your first visit with Reach Health & Wellness Chiropractic.
1. Teele DW, Klein JO, Rosner B. Epidemiology of otitis media during the first seven years of life in children in greater Boston: a prospective, cohort study. J Infect Dis. 1989 Jul;160(1):83-94
4. Ear infection: a retrospective study examining improvement from chiropractic care and analyzing for influencing factors , Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 1996
*This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Megan Touron and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Dr. Megan does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
Dr. Megan Touron is a chiropractic physician and author who specializes in pediatric care and pregnant moms. Click here to read her full bio!