Did you know that over 35% of all visits to the pediatrician each year stem from suspected ear infections? That equates to a serious number of office visits for this fairly common condition. In fact, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, five out of every six children will experience an ear infection before they turn three years old.
So, is a hospital visit always necessary to effectively treat your child’s ear infection? No. Though medications are sometimes prescribed for these common infections, they may not always be needed. As it turns out, there are many effective holistic routes that you can explore first. We’re going to break down some of your options below.
What Causes Ear Infections?
Simply put, an ear infection is inflammation in the middle ear. These infections are usually caused by bacteria or a virus and can oftentimes come at the end of a lingering cold. Inflammation and swelling increases in the eustachian tube, behind the eardrum, causing the pain and discomfort. It’s an agonizing experience that can be difficult to communicate properly for babies and young children.
Not to mention, since young children have smaller and shorter inner ear tubes than adults, it becomes easier for them to become blocked and inflamed, resulting in a higher frequency of pediatric ear infections.
If you notice your child tugging on their ear, becoming more irritable, developing a fever, losing their appetite, or having trouble sleeping, they may be experiencing an ear infection. Fluid drainage or discharge from the ear, typically found on pillows after a night of sleep, can also be a symptom of infection.
Natural Remedies For Ear Infections
Maybe you’ve already figured out that your little one is struggling through an ear infection or earache. So, what’s the best option for treatment?
Though a round of antibiotics used to be immediately prescribed for ear infections, it’s come to light that they may not always be the best option for immediate treatment. The Journal of the American Medical Association cited that 80% of children with ear infections recover within about three days without employing prescription antibiotics. That being the case, there are definitely natural routes to explore with your child to help them alleviate the discomfort they are experiencing with their earache.
Warm Heat. For starters, try placing a warm, damp compress over the affected ear for around 10 to 15 minutes to help provide relief.
Ample Fluids. You should also make sure that your child is staying well hydrated, as the simple act of swallowing fluids can help open the inner ear tubes to allow for inflamed fluid to drain and decrease.
Elevate the Head. Make sure to keep your child’s head elevated when possible to again help with drainage. If they are sleeping in a crib, be careful to place pillows under the mattress to elevate the entire side of the sleeping situation.
Warm Oils. Some explore the use of several drops of warmed olive or sesame oil in the affected ear, though you want to be sure that their eardrum has not ruptured or is not producing discharge. If you do suspect a potentially ruptured eardrum, do not use oils.
A word of caution: if your child is less than 6 months old, experiencing a high fever, or you’ve noticed significant discharge from their ear, it may be time to book an appointment at the doctor, urgent care or even the hospital. Though antibiotics may not be the best first line of action for every earache scenario, for more serious cases they can be necessary for your child’s health.
Chiropractic Care For Ear Infections
One commonly overlooked natural treatment option for children’s ear infections is actually chiropractic care. Subluxations, or misalignments of the spine, can occur easily during everyday life or even during birth. These misalignments can inflame and irritate nerves that are connected to the eustachian tube in the ear, causing the fluid buildup that in turn causes the infection and pressure. Gentle chiropractic adjustments can realign the body, allowing the nervous system to restore normal function and calm irritation on its own.
If your child is struggling with an ear infection and you’d like to explore all your natural options, it may be valuable to consider chiropractic care. To schedule an initial evaluation, call our office at (423) 380-1155 or schedule an appointment online.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.