“Help my child keeps crying and tugging his ear! What do I do?”
Recurring adult ear infections can be a sign of a more serious health problem, therefore they should never be taken likely and from the first symptoms of an ear infection it is always a good idea to seek medical advice from your doctor. However, they are actually much more common in children than adults. Childhood ear infections are normally much less severe and by following the correct treatment you can quickly provide relief to your child’s ear infection. So before you rush your child to an expensive hospital appointment, let us have a look at how to treat an ear infection at home with some natural remedies.
Symptoms of an Ear Infection
To be able to treat and cure an ear infection first we need to know what we are dealing with, simply put an ear infection happens when the middle ear which is the area behind the eardrum is affected by a bacterial or viral infection. One of the key symptoms of an ear infection is the acute pain you feel due to the buildup of fluid in the middle ear due to the inflammation. There are actually three different types of ear infections which correspond to the different parts of your ear: inner, middle and outer. An inner ear infection is much more dangerous as it can be an indication of a much more sinister illness like meningitis therefore if your child indicates any of the following:
Nausea and vomiting
Dizziness and balance issues
Then we would highly recommend you to not treat your child’s ear infection at home, it will be better for you to contact your physician immediately. If you notice your child’s ear is itchy and swollen then they are most likely suffering from an outer ear infection, you will find that the eardrum outside of their head becomes painful and very tender. An otitis media, the middle ear infection can be diagnosed by the eardrum swelling and a narrowing of the ear canal. This will also likely come hand in hand with a discharge of pus or fluid from the affected ear. You may find that your child has trouble hearing also until the infection starts to clear. With all three cases one thing that will be recurring is the possibility of having a sudden high fever, but generally you will experience a low grade fever of 101º to 103º. Great so now that we know the symptoms, how do we get rid of an ear infection? Well hang on a minute! First we need to learn about what caused it, there is no point in starting ear infection remedies if all that will happen will be for the ear infection to recur because we did not know the cause!
It is only by looking at the cause of the illness that we can really understand how to cure an ear Infection. A middle ear infection often comes as a result of a respiratory problem or a cold. This is because the infection travels to the ears via the eustachian tubes which are the organs responsible for keeping the correct air pressure in your ears. Your eustachian tubes can become infected because they connect your nose and throat, once infected the fluid builds up in your eardrum instead of draining due to swelling. A child is more prone to this sort of infection because for starters their immune system has not fully developed but also because their eustachian tubes are still growing therefore they are shorter, this allows for germs to become easily trapped. So now we know that congestion from cold is a big factor in causing ear infections, so a preventive treatment we can use to combat this would be to ensure we are always clothed appropriately especially during the winter months: scarfs, mittens and hats on!
Another cause of regular blockage in the eustachian tubes can be allergies, so if you find your child or yourself with recurring earaches during the seasons of flower pollen flying through the air. Simply taking the correct hayfever medicine may be enough to cure your ear infection!
An outer ear infection is also known as swimmer’s ear, because a lot of the times it is caused by water entering your ear due to swimming or washing. The dampness in your ear then becomes an ideal home for new bacteria to form. If you then proceed to scratch your ear or irritate the outside of it then a bacterial infection will commence. Good to know? Now we know that a simple way to cure any potential chance of an ear infection is to wear earplugs when swimming!
So do we need to run to the doctor for some antibiotics?
Historically antibiotics have played a large part in curing earaches and infections, however as germs and bacteria become ever more resistant to antibiotics the new approach recommended by doctors is the wait and see technique. What does that mean then? Well instead of piling our body full of drugs at the first sign of pain, the innovative approach is to first see if our body’s immune system can fight of the infection. “But my child is in pain, what can I do?” Fear not that are many natural home remedies that you can attempt at first to provide relief to an ear infection.
As we have seen above one of the big causes of an otitis media is due to blockage of the ear canal from swelling and the buildup of wax, we can relief this part of the ear infection simply by using some olive oil.
Hot Water Bottle or warm washcloth:
Like all bruises and swelling, applying heat and resting will greatly help your body cure itself and fight the ear infection.
You may not know this but the basil herb has certain elements in it that makes it perfect for relieving pain, which is ideal for treating ear infection symptoms.
Pop your ears:
Popping your ears is a great natural way to help the fluid drain.
Try apple cider vinegar or alcohol rinse:
If the infection looks to be mostly on the outside of the ear then this technique will certainly help you get rid of it.
Hope you will find a home remedy above that will help your child gain relief from the pain. Remember that antibiotics are not always the answer, they can cause stomachaches and diarrhea. It is rare for kids to experience serious side effects but it is noted that one in ten kids who take antibiotics end up with diarrhea. Therefore doctors will recommend rest and waiting a few days to see if your earache clears up on its own, if it really is an infection then they will most likely prescribe you with antibiotics to cure your ear infection.
No thank you I would like some traditional medicine and ear drops!
I hear you I hear you, natural home remedies are not for everyone but they do have a great track record of working and curing ear infections. Just ask your Grandma what her best method for managing pain is! I think you may be surprised by the response, but if that doesn’t work for you then here are some over the counter options that will help you relief that earache pain.
This could come in the form of a nasal spray or even an antihistamine, just ask your pharmacist to recommend the best option for your child, taking into account their age and weight. Remember that cold or allergy symptoms are a big cause of ear infection so if we minimize this and ensure your tubes are all allowing you to breath correctly and draining fluid then you will be provided with relief.
Over-the-counter pain relievers
The main cause of the pain is due to your child’s ear being swollen, so any anti-inflammatory can help you get rid of your ear infection. A good option for pain medication would be ibuprofen or acetaminophen these come in all forms of brands such as Tylenol or Advil. Remember to follow the labels when using drugs, remember to take into account your child’s age and weight and never take more than what is indicated on the label. Ensure that your write down the times that your child is taking the medicine, in case he or she does not bounce back this could be important information if you need to visit a hospital.
Ear drops will in the most cases be prescribed by your doctor. This is because using anesthetic ear drops in the wrong fashion will have the opposite effect and could potentially damage your eardrums. However, if prescribed then ear drops will numb your child’s eardrum this will give them some instant relief for a couple of hours. Be sure to follow the medicine’s instructions carefully and do not use more than the prescribed dose.
Help it has been 2 days and my child is still in agony!
At this stage your next cause of action will be to seek medical advice if you have not already done so. If an earache has not cleared itself up within 48 hours then it will not be going anywhere by itself and unfortunately your child’s immune system has not been strong enough to defeat the infection. At this point your doctor will prescribe you with a course of antibiotics to follow to ensure your child becomes healthy again. You will generally find that your doctor will recommend a 7 day treatment and remember even if after 1 or 2 days your child is notably better you need to follow through with the full treatment. We know that that antibiotics can be very confusing, especially when you are worried about your child’s health so here is the general breakdown for you:
You may refer to it as the dreaded “Pink Stuff” it is the go to antibiotic for most doctors, this is because it is an inexpensive treatment that normally cures ear infections once and for all. It also remains easy on the intestines so there is less chance of your child having diarrhea.
Azithromycin or Augmentin
This is just a double dose of Amoxicillin with a different name, your doctor may prescribe this one if your child’s ear infection is particularly nasty. Unfortunately as it is stronger it is a bit harder on the stomach which may result in diarrhea.
This is the new boy in town and is known to be very effective in defeating ear infections, you may find that your doctor prescribes this as an additional.
So those are the different antibiotics you may see be prescribed once you have visited your doctor. Another tip we can give you as a remedy for ear infection would be to provide your child with a pillow that is bigger than usual and ask them to sleep with their infected ear up which will allow gravity to help drain the fluid away.
There you have that is pretty much everything you need to know about ear infections, being able to spot them, how to prevent them happening and how to cure them. We hope you can now act with confidence and know that you will be able treat your ear infection correctly! Of course we always recommend that when in any doubt to seek a professional medical opinion.