Natural Medicine for Middle Ear Infections

Jan 21, 2016

Fluid in the middle ear (otitis media with effusion) is a common problem for babies, toddlers and young children. Surgery to place tubes in the ears so that the ears can drain, is the second most common surgical procedure done on children. Trying natural remedies first may spare a child from surgery. Home remedies for fluid in the ears include dietary changes, the herb mullein, garlic, a warm salt sock, and vitamin C.

Fluid in the ear can lead to infection, hearing problems, and balance problems. Anatomically, some children are more prone to fluid in the middle ear because they have a smaller area in the middle ear. A weak or immature immune system, allergies, colds, and environmental allergens can all contribute to a child having trouble with fluid in the ears.

It is important to resolve this problem for children. Children who have a chronic problem with fluid in the middle ears can have trouble with their speech or with learning to read. Because of the propensity to sickness, a child with ear problems may miss more days of school.

Dietary Changes to Help with Fluid in the Middle Ear

Many parents find that eliminating dairy from the diet will resolve chronic fluid in the middle ear. A food sensitivity could also cause a child to be more prone to fluid in the ears. Consider common allergens like soy, corn, and wheat first. Reducing sugar, white flour, and processed foods are often helpful for many conditions since these foods tend to replace more nutrient dense foods. Most children would do well to increase the fruit and vegetable intake.

Herbal Remedies to Help Drain Fluid from the Middle Ear

Garlic is a wonderful for ear problems. Not only is is a natural antibiotic, a clove of garlic at the opening of an ear can help to draw fluid from it. Take a bulb of garlic and carefully separate one of the individual cloves. Peel off the outer paper skin, making sure not to prick the garlic. Wrap the garlic clove in a piece of gauze or thin cloth. Place the garlic clove in the opening of the ear. (The garlic clove should be big enough that it could not accidentally get into the ear.) Use a bandana around the head to help the garlic stay in place over night or for several hours at a time.

Mullein is a gentle but effective herb. Many children respond well to it. A cup of mullein tea (1/3 cup taken three times a day), sweetened with honey for children over a year, may help the ear to drain.

The easiest solution may be a combination of mullein and garlic in an oil form, easily available online. A few drops can be used in each ear a couple of times a day. Alternately, this oil can also be massaged under and behind the ear on the skin.

A salt sock is an inexpensive remedy to try for fluid in the ear. Fill a sock half way with salt and tied off the end. Microwave the sock for a minute until it is comfortably warm to an adult ear. Hold against the ear for 20 minutes or so a few times a day. This is very helpful for ear pain as well.

Vitamins for Fluid in the Middle Ear

Vitamin C is a great supplement to try for fluid in the ear. Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine. If allergies are related to the fluid problem, vitamin C may help. Vitamin D is also a help to the immune system. Ideally, children will get their Vitamin D from the sun, though this can be difficult in the winter. A Vitamin D supplement in the winter for a short time may be helpful.

Elderberry syrup is another great immune tonic for children. Some store bought elderberry syrups also contain echinacea, which can be used for a week or two at a time.

If you try any of these remedies, do let us know how they work for your child. And if you have a remedy for fluid in the ear, be sure to let us know!

Please continue to scroll down this page to read what Earth Clinic readers have found helpful for this problem.

Additional pages of interest:

Ear Infections in Children



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Posted by Sarah (Battle Creek, Michigan) on 04/18/2008
5 out of 5 stars

My 14 month old son has constantly been sick and had ear infections. We have keep going to the doctor and they just kept putting him on antibiotics. It turns out that the infection never healed causing the area behind his ear to become swollen. We went to the emergency room and they just gave him another round of antibiotics. Three days later went went back into his ped and they put him on steriods for the swelling because they said it was lymph nodes. Two weeks later his ear was still swollen, red and very tender to the touch. The poor baby was just miserable so we made another appointment to go back to the ped. Since we use H2O2 for cleaning out infections and getting rid of ear wax, I put some in his ear that night, let it sit for 5 minutes and then drained it. The next morning the swelling was down by half but it was still noticably swollen. We had is ped appointment that day so we went and they referred us to a ENT and hearing Specialist. As soon as that doctor walked in the room he said he was going to have to schedule my son for surgery to put tubes in his ear. what he has is mastoiditis, an infection of the bone behind the ear. After talking for a while I told the doctor that the ear was actually getting better (I left out the H2O2 part). He gave me the option to do another round of antibiotics and see what happens but if it got worse then I had to bring him in for surgery. Of course, I opted for the antibiotics. I did a total of 5 treatments of H2O2 in his ear. I did it right before bed and when he woke up in the morning after doing a treatment his ear was less and less tender and swollen. This moring when he woke up his ear was completely back to normal. I can't believe it! My baby is happy and doesn't need tubes put into his ears anymore. Thank you God for giving us H2O2.