Natural Remedies for Children's Ear Infections and Ear Pain

Jun 24, 2017

I was once in an emergency room where a woman was crying and moaning in pain for what seemed like hours.  I later learned that her pain was caused by an ear infection.  If ear pain can cause a grown woman to moan and cry, one can only imagine how a child suffers from ear pain.  In fact, since then, I have had severe ear pain once or twice and have seen my children and husband suffer from ear pain.

What Causes Ear Pain in a Child?

Ear pain in children can be caused by congestion, middle ear infection (otitis media), a build up of ear wax, teething pain, swimmer's ear (acute otitis externa) or from having a foreign object inside the ear.

Middle ear infections are quite common in children due to the smaller size of the eustachian tubes and immature immune systems, making them more likely to get colds.  Ear infections are often secondary to a cold or flu virus. In addition to treating the cold or flu virus, there are a number of natural remedies that can be used to help a child who has pain in his ear.

Antibiotics Do Not Usually Help Ear Infections

There was a time when antibiotics were prescribed for nearly all ear infections.  This protocol, however, was causing increased resistance to antibiotics. It was also found that ear infections were often viral and would resolve on their own without antibiotics. I can remember seeing literature in doctor's offices, letting parents know that antibiotics were usually not needed for ear infections.  It was part of an effort to re-educate the public about the treatment of ear infections.

Treat Children's Ear Pain as Soon as Possible

When my children have ear pain, I start treatment right away.

  • The first thing I do is put a few drops of mullein ear oil into each ear.  (I always treat both ears, even if only one ear seems to be having trouble.)
  • Next, I heat up a rice sock.  I make sure the temperature is comfortable on my own ear before putting it onto my child's ear.  This often helps right away. 
  • If this does not begin to give my child relief soon, I do use a dose of over the counter pain reliever. Usually by the time that wears off, the oil and rice sock have brought some relief. 
  • I reheat and reuse the rice sock as long as the child desires it. 
  • I use the ear drops 3-4 times a day.

Other common remedies for ear pain and infection include:

  • 3% hydrogen peroxide in the ears;
  • Or colloidal silver in the ears several times a day.

Mullein and Olive Oil - Ear Oil Recipe

  • Put 1/4 cup of dry mullein leaf into a small pot. 
  • Add 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil.  Heat on very low heat (do not even reach a simmer) for 45 minutes. 
  • Strain out the Mullein Leaf through a coffee filter. 
  • Cool.  I store this on the counter if I am using it daily; otherwise, I put it in the refrigerator to keep it for a couple of months.

Garlic Oil - Ear Oil Recipe

I have also made a garlic oil for ear infections. I love this because the ingredients are often on hand, which is very helpful if the ear pain strikes when the stores are closed or it is inconvenient to go out to get a remedy.  I put a few drops of the oil into each ear a few times a day.  Usually pain is resolved in a day or two, but it is not a bad idea to continue using the remedy once a day for a few days even after the child feels better.

  • I chop a clove of garlic and put it into a small pan. 
  • I add olive oil to cover.  I heat the garlic in the olive oil, just to very warm (not enough to saute the garlic) and let the garlic steep in the hot oil for 45 minutes. 
  • I strain out the garlic and let the oil cool.
  • I store this on the counter when I need it daily and in the refrigerator to keep if fresh for a couple of months.

For a child with ear pain, any remedy that is put in the ears will be more comfortable if it is warmed first.  I usually store my remedies in one ounce glass dropper bottles.  When I need to warm them, I get a mug with very hot tap water, and put the glass bottle into the mug for five minutes or so.

Rice Sock Directions

  • Fill a clean sock of any size half full with brown or white rice.
  • Tie a knot in the top of the sock.  The rice should be able to move freely. 
  • I normally store a rice sock in the freezer so it is ready to be an "ice pack" for any bump or bruise. 
  • If I need it warm to help with ear pain, I spritz the sock with water (just a spray or two) and microwave it until it is a comfortable temperature to my own ear.  (Usually just a minute or so.)  I keep a microwave oven in my house just to have an easy way to heat a rice sock.

Cautions:

  1. Always test the temperature of anything you will be putting into anyone's ear on the inside of your own wrist to make sure it is not too hot. If you are heating it up prior to using it in the ear, that is.
  2. It is not recommended to put anything into the ear if there has been a rupture. 
  3. Essential oils should never be put into the ears whether there is a rupture or not. 

Please keep scrolling down to read how Earth Clinic readers have treated their own children's ear infections and ear pain. Please let us know your own favorite treatments!

Other Pages of Interest

http://www.earthclinic.com/cures/ear-wax-removal-home-remedy.html

http://www.earthclinic.com/cures/swimmers_ear.html

http://www.earthclinic.com/children/teething-remedies.html

http://www.earthclinic.com/cures/colds.html



Aloe  

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Posted by Dana (Boston, Ma) on 05/14/2009
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My kid got very bad ear ache one night, I didn't know what caused it or what to do. I have aloe vera plant at home for minor burns and such, so I cut it and squeezed some clear liquid and warm it just enough so it's not cold and put 3-4 drops of it into the ear and closed with cotton ball Very soon she fell asleep, next day like nothing happened. We didn't take her to a doctor, because she was fine and never again had any problems, so I don't know what caused the pain. Whatever it was aloe vera helped.


Cod Liver Oil  

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Posted by Sharon (Wesley Chapel, Fl) on 06/16/2010
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Cod-liver oil dose is determined by the baby's age. 1 mo to 6 months use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon in a dropper so it will slide down the side of their tongue and not choke them, as they are not used to the thickness of the oil. 6 mo to 1 yr, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon daily. my 2 yr-olds could usually take the capsules. Sometimes they chewed them. Keep in mind, when you have a chronic condition, it may take up to 3 months to see great improvement as it takes the body awhile to clear up the damage already present. However, my mom had told me about this when my firstborn had had 5 trips to the doc with earache, and after starting the cod liver drops for him and the other 3 children who came after, I never-ever again had another childs earache to keep me up all night, or any- and I mean any issues with ears, nose or throat. As an addendum, you want to remember, that Any sugar containing products will slow the process considerably, as just 1 tsp of sugar will cause your immune system to shut down for 24 hours. Please use real fruit juice or a little honey, those popsicles help keep the docs in business. Hugs to all. Sharon


Posted by Tammy (Haledon, NJ) on 10/06/2006
5 out of 5 stars

This wasn't on your site but I am a true believer in this, my son at 3 months of age suffered from constant ear infections. Once I gave him a dose of cod liver oil a day he hasn't had one since!!!! Also I believe the omega 3 fatty acids in cod liver oil pretty much made my kid way advanced in brain function. He is just 2 years old and can count to 30, knows all of his shapes and colors ta boot! Plus he originally had eczema and constipation and the oil cleared all of that up too!!

Replied by Rose
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
03/07/2007

The person who has said about giving their baby COD LIVER OIL (10/6/2006: Tammy from Haledon, NJ) I have a question: how much cod liver oil did you give your child? And what was the grams?

Replied by Luvdplanet
Gainesville, Fl
09/11/2013

Hi There... My Mom used to give us Codfish when we were kids. She said she gave it to us since we were toddlers using a syringe (without the needle) or a dropper from the fever liquid medicine and filled it with 3cc. Then when older, one teaspoon everyday. That stuff is good even for grown ups. Namaste!


Garlic  

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Posted by George (Pittsburgh ) on 03/05/2017
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Ear infection in child: I warmed up a slice of fresh garlic and put 3 drops in his ear twice, 6 hours apart. At bedtime, I put 1 slice of garlic in his outer ear wrapped in a small piece of paper towel which I moistened with olive oil. I put a piece of cotton ball on top of this and secured his ear with gauze to keep it in his ear overnight. I gave him alternating doses of children's motrin and Tylenol every 6 hours as needed to control the fever.

By morning, the ear pain was gone. Mind you, this was after trying over the counter ear drops for ear infection for one day with no results. Also, we have taken our child to the doctor previoysly during this allergy season for previous ear infections and we know that there are not any other issues going on with our son's ears.

Thank you Earth clinic community! This was really helpful.


Posted by Provident Mom (Lake Jackson, Texas) on 02/25/2012
5 out of 5 stars

Wow! This works fantastic! A crushed clove of garlic mixed with some olive oil and stirred together. Then sifted out any garlic pieces. Used it on my kids and myself- huge improvement!!!


Posted by Karen (Cooroy, Qld Australia) on 12/18/2011
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I just tried a clove of garlic (chopped into 4 pieces) warmed in some coconut oil and then a few drops of this placed in my daughters ear with a q-tip. She has had the flu for three days and had an earache since last night. We tried hot rock salt for the pain, which helped only a little bit. The garlic in oil worked within 5 minutes! Her ear is not echoing or hurting anymore. Hurray for this site!! Thanks to all who post their findings on here.


Posted by Karen (Sealrock, Oregon) on 11/08/2010
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A capsule of garlic can be punctured & the juice inside of it squirted into the ear (people or animals)then put a large ball cotton in ear to keep juice inside & provide warmth. - there are immediate results. Even with infants immediate results - no more crying & pulling at the ears & no more infection after 1 to 2 times of dosing.


Posted by Patti (Nowhere, AZ) on 06/15/2009
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This is for all the mothers out there that have a child with an earache. Get one garlic clove crush it in a garlic press mix it with one tablespoon olive oil then gently warm the two ingredients together in a small pan. Next use a Qtip to drop three drops into ear then cover with a cottonball. Apply 2 times a day. My kids want me to add that it takes about 10 minutes for pain to subside.


Posted by Tara (Marlborough, MA USA) on 01/07/2009
5 out of 5 stars

I saw comments about garlic oil working for ear infections. A few weeks ago, my 4 yr old son was very lethargic and his ear was bright red and burning. He said it hurt. My husband chopped up one clove of fresh garlic, put it in maybe a couple table spoons of olive oil in a small cup and warmed it up in the microwave. He strained the garlic out, let it cool and put a dropperful in my son's affected ear. I gave my son some painkiller and a cold compress and he fell asleep for the night. By morning, he was fine!


Posted by Robin (Ladera Ranch, CA) on 07/22/2008
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I was told if my son was breastfed he would have a stronger immune system. Now I wonder what time of immune system he would of had if I didn't breastfeed him! He had constant ear infections from the time he was 4 months old until about 6 years old. He was on numerous bouts of antibiotics, sometimes both ears twice a month!!! I spent soooo much money on doctors appts and antibiotic prescriptions. His immune system got worse from what I think are the vast amounts of antibiotics. Finally, a guy at work told me to go to this natural store. I went and a man came out and sold me a bottle of ear oil (mostly garlic oil with a couple of other things) for 2 dollars. I brought it home, tried it when my son had an infection and I was BLOWN AWAY!!! About 2 days worth and it was gone. What's amazing is, it came back once or twice after that for about the first year and he hasn't had one since. I wish someone would have told me sooner!!!! Yeah he smelled like garlic and he was mad about that but no more expensive trips to the doctor and these crazy amounts of antibiotics. I've seen these bottles of ear oil since then and given them to my friends with kids and they said it worked for them too and they were amazed. The sell them at like whole foods and trader joes. Doesn't hurt to try right?


Posted by Rita (Markham, Canada) on 05/11/2008
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My four year old had a severe ear ache after a year of having ear aches every few weeks. I was tired of giving her antibiotics, therefore this time I wanted to find out a natural way to cure this pain. I tried the garlic cure and it worked. Although she did complain about the burning in her ear and she wanted me to clean it out, she ended up falling asleep and slept through the rest of the night. When she woke up she did not have an ear ache any longer. Whereas before putting the squeezed drops of garlic into her ear, she would dose off for a bit but then the pain would wake her up and she could not fall asleep. The crushed garlic juice in her ear really worked.


Garlic and Hydrogen Peroxide, Alcohol  

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Posted by Holly (O'fallon, Mo) on 06/03/2011
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This works! I have five kids and have dealt with numerous earaches. Chop one tooth of the garlic clove and place on a cotton ball or pad. Wrap cotton around garlic and set in a bowl. Pour peroxide or rubbing alcohol over cotton ball and let sit for a minute or two. Drop 3 or 4 drops into ear and let sit for 2 minutes. Place a dry cotton ball in ear and tilt head or lay down (on the earache side) and let drain. If using peroxide wait until bubbling stops (a few minutes). Peroxide will clean out any wax or build up in the ear. Alcohol seems to evaporate quickly and aids in draining. (But chose one ore the other, not both at the same time! )
My mom always used a washcloth filled with warm salt as pain relief for earaches. Warm 1/4 cup table salt in pan on low heat until salt is warm to the touch. Pour into center of washcloth. Bring sides of washcloth up and wrap a rubber band just above pile of salt. Place on ear until it cools(it usually lasts about 15/20 min). This heat brings great relief and is safer/easier than a heating pad (great for middle of the night! ) Be careful not to get salt too hot, it can burn the thin skin around your ear.


Garlic or Mullein Oil  

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Posted by Lanayanie (Santa Rosa Beach, FL) on 06/10/2009
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When my son was 4, he had a recurring ear infection. Antibiotics did not help, and I was very frustrated. It seemed like a vicious cycle. Finally, I stopped taking him to a doctor (and stopped the antibiotic round). Instead, I would put a small piece of cotton ball dipped into garlic oil or mullein oil into his ear before bed time. Both are supposed to work well for this. (Mullein is an old native-American remedy for ear ache.) I also gave him high doses of vitamin C, garlic, echinacea, and golden seal (in liquid) mixed with his juice several times a day. Once he recovered, the problem did not come back.


Garlic, Hydrogen Peroxide  

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Posted by Jasmine (Oklahoma City, Ok) on 12/31/2010
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I am soooo thankful for the EC participants! My 4-yr old daughter suffered her first earache recently. I tried alternating mucinex and children Tylenol to help with the drainage and the pain. Even Rescon - which is specific to Eustachian tube drainage. A week later we are still dealing with the varying pain from the earache. I have been to this site before but this is my first time posting b/c your recommendations WORK!

While she was sleeping I used a note from Garlic "YEAs". Mixed a small SCORE of garlic with olive oil then dipped a small portion of toilet paper in the now garlic oil (didn't have cotton balls). I balled it big enough where it basically sat on the outer cusp of her ear - did not push it down inside. Left it there for 1 hour while she slept. In the morning she was CURED! Chipper and yelling her ear was better. Then said there was a lot of wax coming out. The ear infection had drained out - it was a watery yellowish substance. This was not from the garlic mixture as I only dabbed a small piece of tissue and did not even stick that all the way in her ear. I couldn't believe it!!!!

To remove some of the drainage of which some had crusted on the outside of the ear - I started with a warm washcloth to soften the crust and worked my way in. Then to get the inner drainage I diluted Hydrogen Peroxide with room temp bottled water and put a few drops inside. My daughter reported NO pain and said she could hear the bubbling in her ear (smiling all the while as if this were a science project). THE REMEDIES WORK!!!! Thank you ALL for your feedback (even the nays add valuable insight - don't overdo it).


Herbal Formulas  

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Posted by Amanda (Hot Springs, Ar) on 12/30/2009
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My 3 year old daughter has a cold, and yesterday her ear started hurting. I gave her the usual remedy that I always use for my kids' ear infections that has always worked; it is an extract that has black cohosh root, chickweed arial parts, goldenseal root, passion flower arial parts, licorice root, and valerian root. I put a few drops in the ear, and if they are over two, i give 1/4 teaspoon by mouth. anyway, it didn't stop the pain right away,so I chopped 1/2 onion and put it in a cheesecloth, and held it to her ear for 1/2 an hour; within 10 minutes she stopped crying and went to sleep and slept through the night and never complained about it again and it has now been about 24 hours.



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