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Kids’ Ear Infections: A Home Remedy?

BEST Natural home remedies for an ear infection – what you can do NOW and to be prepared for next time a kid or an adult has an earache. If you want to avoid antibiotics, this one’s for you.

Baby with ear infection sucking on her thumb.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Sheila Kilbane, M.D. of Infinite Health in Charlotte, NC, and founder of Healthy Kids, Happy Moms.

I didn’t think I’d ever fit this neatly into the “nuts” or “off the grid” category. I’ve always been a rebel, but never like this.

My 4-year-old son woke up Friday morning around 5 a.m. with pain, that by 7:00 he could articulate as being in his ear after coming to our room three times. He is a tough kid, so I knew that he was really in pain when he couldn’t stop whimpering, and the nail in the coffin was that he said he wouldn’t care if we missed school to go to the doctor. Out the door we went!

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some drugs to make him feel better.

I wanted to know what was wrong and how to fix it, and I wanted it taken care of NOW.

Katie here, interrupting because I was so curious why some kids seem to get ear infections over and over, to the point of needing surgery and tubes in their ears! I wanted to know WHY? I interviewed Dr Sheila Kilbane to ask this and other questions about how diet might affect this, and what we can do at home to help our kids in the throes of an ear infection.

YouTube video

An ear infection is not something to be taken lightly. They are really, really painful, as I learned when I got my first (and only) ear infection as an adult when my son was a baby. In a twist of fate, I got the ear infection when it would have been common for him, and I had been teething for a few years – cutting my wisdom teeth – when my kids should have been the ones with new pearly whites. Instead of living vicariously through my children, they’re living vicariously through me – in the pain category!

After diagnosis and prescription, I wanted the quick fix so badly I even tried to go to the closest possible pharmacy on the way home. The mechanical drawer at the drive-through was broken, and my son said he’d rather wait the 20 minutes to get to our end of town than get out of the van and go in.

By the time he had a snooze on the way home, waited for the prescription to be filled at the pharmacy near our house, and I got both kids bundled up to go, he said he didn’t want the ear drops to relieve the pain instantly. He was feeling fine. I had been uncomfortable about the antibiotics all morning, and with the help of my Twitter community, I had some natural remedies for the ear infection up my sleeve. I couldn’t give him the first dose of antibiotics until I had read a little more and talked to my husband.

Heal Ear Infections with Garlic Oil

The Treacherous Antibiotic Question – Would I Use It on the Ear Infection?

I knew that if we started the antibiotic regimen, we needed to finish it. All ten days’ worth. For a pain that had only lasted 2-3 hours, that made me nervous. I was thinking:

  1. What if he doesn’t need the antibiotic? Maybe we can get over this without it.
  2. If he has the antibiotic, his natural flora (the balance of good and bad bacteria) will be off, and he’ll be more susceptible to bacterial problems over the next few weeks. We make homemade yogurt, and already eat a lot of it.
  3. If he doesn’t neeeeeeed the antibiotic, are we contributing to the dangers of bacterial resistance if he takes it and shares it with our ecosystem?
  4. I read that some ear infections are viral and wouldn’t be touched by an antibiotic anyway. The thought of 10 days of medicine for nothing makes me shudder.
  5. What did our grandparents do before antibiotics? (Husband says: “They were in pain.”  I said, “But he’s not anymore. I think they always had some sort of remedy for earaches.”  Hubs:  “They died a lot sooner.”  Me: “Not from earaches!!!”)
  6. My husband thinks I’m nuts to “experiment” on our kid. Am I nuts?
  7. If he was in pain, I would give him the antibiotic. Can I get away with waiting since he’s feeling fine?
  8. Is it a problem to put off the first dose? Now I’ll be a half day or a whole day farther away from healing…

Home Remedy for an Ear Infection

While I waited to make the final decision, I crushed a clove of fresh garlic for each foot and put it in my son’s socks, much to his dismay. And yes, it felt a little like voodoo. Would you do?

Note: Many folks have since told me that raw garlic can be pretty intense, almost abrasive, and that I’m lucky it didn’t hurt my son’s skin. Yikes! I would cut it with oil to do this again, but now I’ve purchased some garlic oil from a health foods store that I use instead.

I crushed more garlic and warmed it with extra virgin olive oil, allowed it to cool to just above body temp, and poured a few drops in his ear. We sang the ABCs twice and he tilted it out. We did that about three times throughout the day. Voodoo? Not quite. EVOO and garlic both have antibacterial properties, and anecdotal evidence confirms that the warm oil also takes away the pain in the short term.

I also wouldn’t let the poor child drink his milk after a Twitter friend mentioned avoiding dairy to avoid ear infections and remembering that one of my milk group ladies doesn’t let her kids have milk when they have colds.

Our house – and my son’s head – smelled like a posh Italian restaurant all weekend. But no one was waking up in the night with an earache, praise be to God.

So, my husband may joke that he’s never heard of someone curing an ear infection by pouring FOOD in their ears, but the medicine remains on the kitchen table while the food in the ear and the socks seems to have done the trick.

I’m No Doctor…Just a Mom

I post this not to teach you anything, but because I’m still in awe that I tried it…and it worked. But don’t skip your medicine on my account – be sure to do your own research and make your own decisions. As for me, my pediatrician is probably reading this. *cringe*  I’m wondering what she’s thinking! (I’m still wondering how I feel about the whole thing…)

I Know More Now: My Experience with Home Remedies

Two years and two more ear infections later, this is what else I’ve learned about battling infection naturally:

  • A Home Remedies Medicine Cabinet including Natural Antibiotics – everything I know!
  • Antibiotics vs. Essential Oils – same son had antibiotics for strep, then developed a nasty ear infection immediately following. I have lots of new thoughts on the hazards of antibiotics after that…and we managed to let another prescription hit the garbage instead of my son’s system by using essential oils…
  • Note: My post on the potential dangers of essential oils. They can be great if used correctly, but you need to know enough to know what you don’t yet know…
  • After the third ear infection that we battled naturally, a double job with two ruptured eardrums, (Here’s the whole story with lots more on antibiotics, GBS tests for labor, ear infections, and strep throat) I recommend:
    • USE THE GARLIC (Here’s a recipe for garlic-mullein earache relief oil, which you can make without the mullein if you don’t have any, or buy on amazon)
    • Oil of oregano didn’t do it for us this time, and I was SO disappointed. I thought it was supposed to be a very potent antibiotic…? Be sure to use probiotics if you use oil of oregano or any antibiotic, natural or unnatural.
    • Warm compresses for pain are the very quickest form of relief. Try a microwavable heat thingy.
    • Ruptured eardrums are ok – they may increase the child’s risk of needing hearing aids when they’re elderly, but it needs to happen multiple times to cause that kind of scar tissue. It’s blessed relief when they rupture, actually, because the pressure releases and the germs can come out.
    • A friend swears by Hyland’s homeopathic ear drops, (also sold for infants), although the advice came too late for this latest bout. 🙁 Check your local stores as this item can be found in big box shops like Meijer. I’m ordering some from Amazon to have READY for next time!
    • The same friend uses olive leaf extract (or here or here) to fight infection, recommended by “her crunchy nurse practitioner friend” and says it’s amazing. (8-10 drops for a toddler, half that for infant, mixed in OJ because it’s yucky tasting)
    • Another friend tried Trilight’s ear drops, a company I trust, and I really like them. You can put them inside the ear (but never if there’s any draining!) or on the outside, and that’s a nice choice for the parent and the child, especially if they don’t like the idea of something going IN the ear. These smell really garlicky but they work!! If you want to buy directly from Trilight’s website, here’s a link to a coupon for your first order!
    • A reader recommended mullein, and this one is the brand of garlic oil that worked with the oregano on ear infection no. 2 (and I wish I had used it on no. 3).
    • Another friend swears by “onion juice,” which I believe is just food processed raw onion, dripping the juice right into the ear. Don’t quote me on that one. Others say to bake the onion for 30-60 minutes and then squeeze out the juice, or to put the baked onion cut in  half, wrapped in fabric, on top of the ear, not inside.
    • Get an otoscope so you can confirm the presence of an ear infection and watch it dissipate. It costs less than one visit to the doctor, especially if you include gas.
    • Many readers are saying that chiropractics prevents and heals ear infections (and more) better than anything else out there. Body work helps the lymphatic system to drain properly and provides a lot of relief. It’s “on my list” to find a good natural chiropractor.

Wish You Knew All the Answers to Keep Your Family Healthy?

How about a crash course?

I’d love to send you a 7-day “Quick Start Guide” email mini-course to give you Health Agency! When something goes wrong in your family, YOU can be the agent of healing and not allllllways have to call a doctor for every little thing.

Imagine this email series as a virtual chat over the backyard fence with your own neighbor, a wise older mom who’s raising 4 kids with intention, trying to avoid unnecessary medication and being kind to the earth.

Looking forward to connecting to help you learn EXACTLY what you need to know to stock your natural remedies “medicine cabinet,” deal with normal childhood ailments, and even the dreaded, “What’s that on my skin?” issue! 🙂

home remedies for ear infections

Book Recommendations from Readers

The Bottom Line on Natural Remedies for Ear Infections

My final wisdom for you on ear infections is this (copied from this post in case you only want the practical stuff, not the story):

  • Be prepared. The time to buy a few natural remedies is now, not when your child wakes up in the middle of the night with ear pain. I recommend:
  • Recognize it. If your child is waking up more than once an hour throughout the night, whether they complain of ear pain or not – if they don’t throw up by morning, they probably have an ear infection, especially if they’ve had any sort of cough or runny nose in the last week.
  • Hit it early. Don’t wonder if you should use something. As soon as your child wakes up or can’t sleep because of ear pain, hit it hard and fast!
  • Wait until morning to consider the doctor’s. There’s nothing a doc can do for immediate relief in the middle of the night anyway. (caveat: Unless there’s a serious reason and your gut says go! Don’t be over stubborn just to be stubborn and avoid modern medicine. There’s a place for everything.)
  • Know that any improvement means the body is still fighting. Don’t despair; natural means often take longer than quick-fix medicine, but they should have far fewer negative repercussions.
  • Give yourself some grace. If the only conventional medicine you give for an ear infection is children’s acetaminophen, you’re doing just great.
  • Pray. The Lord loves your child even more than you do, and you are also His beloved child. Ask Him for help in decision-making and trust that whatever happens, He is sovereign.

Don’t do as I do and throw a fit if you do end up with antibiotics. Just continue to trust, pray, and give probiotics to your child for at least a few months.

What if you’re already using antibiotics (or end up filling the prescription after the natural remedies don’t seem to be cutting it)? Then you switch modes to damage control. Antibiotics are sometimes necessary, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re nasty for the body. Here’s how we are recovering and rebuilding after an antibiotics regimen. (By the way, I hope it goes without saying that you must always, always finish the entire prescription, no matter what…of course newer research might say the opposite. Always always talk to your doctor!)

Childhood Ear Infections: A...Shop on Amazon Healing Childhood Ear Infec...Shop on Amazon Allergy Relief for Baby by ...Shop on Amazon Herb Pharm Mullein Garlic H...Shop on Amazon

For your further information, I read the following online:

Other Natural Health Posts:

Have you ever tried a home remedy for something most people would medicate? How about Removing Warts Naturally?

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

71 thoughts on “Kids’ Ear Infections: A Home Remedy?”

  1. My pediatrician told me about the antibiotic properties of breast milk – he recommended to use it for pink eye instead of antibiotics (put drops of fresh breast milk directly in the eye). It worked amazingly well, and didn’t sting. I haven’t tried the garlic oil, but am suffering from a sinus infection right now, so I’m about to check it out.

    1. Amen! Breastmilk is amazing. I am currently treating a few of my littles with breastmilk drops in the ear. We had a horrible cold for the last week and now a few ear infections. Breastmilk also works beautifully for pink eye. I am so thankful for all the healing properties God has given us in breastmilk! FYI, my sister in law recently treated her dog’s ear infection with her breastmilk. No vet trip needed. 🙂

  2. Use liquid silver for sinus, cold, flu like symptoms. Since using this product, I have not been to the doctor in 3 years. Used to go twice a year and take at least 3 rounds of antibiotics each time and then have todeal with the side effects. ARGH. LOVE MY SILVER, so many wonderful uses.

  3. We tried your method of putting Garlic in the socks for our 3yr old last night, we also gave her little Advil and a warm cloth on her ear. She got fast asleep in 3-4 minutes after that… thanks to you and everyone for sharing their experiences.

  4. I found this post through a google search. My 10mo old has a cold and ear infection-took her in to the doc, got the prescription. But hate antibiotics. I have used tea tree oil warmed up with olive oil in my older daughters ears before and it worked like a charm. This has encouraged me to do it with this girlie and wait a couple days to administer antibiotics. she’s not fussy, no fever, just a yucky cold and inflamed ear.

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  6. Mother of four

    I prefer alternative medicine as well, for an ear infection I slice a small piece of garlic and wrap it in paper towel, I place it on the ear that is infected. I recently experienced an ear infection, I woke up at 3am with unbearable pain in my ear and a fever. I quickly pulled out a garlic and wrapped it in paper towel. I slept on the ear that was bothering me and lo and be hold after 2-3 hours fever was gone and after an hour I slept like a baby. The smell kills the bacteria it also dry’s up the fluid that cannot drain. This remedy has worked wonders for me and my family.

  7. Heather via Facebook

    Katie, do you have a suggestion for a natural remedies or herbal medicine book? It’s so hard to choose.

  8. Cindy via Facebook

    It is amazing how many great natural options there are but it seems like such a secret. It might be that it just seems too easy and good to be true. Or maybe as Americans we doubt anything that doesn’t come through doctors and pharmaceutical companies. I love how blogs help moms share important information like this. We use melaleuca and lavender essential oil.

  9. Anecdotally, I’ve read that unvaxed kids don’t get ear infections. That has been my experience: my two have reached 5 & 7 without a single ear infection, while their peers seemed to get them over and over, particularly in the under-2 age group.

    1. My 8 month old is unvaxxed currently and he still got an ear infection at 4 months. We ended up using amoxicillin but perhaps will try getting an otoscope to monitor at home longer next time (he had been pretty sick for awhile so I took him to the Dr.)

      Also, while on a different site discussing vaccines, I heard some anecdotes from people who grew up in the 70s and were unvaccinated. One lady was from England and said her mom raised food at home organically and always tried home remedies first, but this girl got sick a lot and also got rubella, measles, mumps and chicken pox and it was hard on her. She knew people who had severe complications from these diseases. It just goes to show that there are many stories and experiences and common claims such as “breastfed or unvaxxed kids don’t get ear infections” or ” eating organic/being unvaxxed/natural medicine will prevent serious illness” should be taken with a grain of salt! 🙂

  10. Nickie via Facebook

    I have had several moms tell me that they treat ear infections with breast milk…I don’t know how much and how often, but it might be worth checking into! They also said they treat eye infections, cuts, etc. with breast milk.

  11. I’m right there with you on not wanting to use antibiotics. We’ve been through many rounds and through 3 or 4 ear tube surgeries. However, you actually can die from an ear infection, and my father who is now 76 almost did as a kid(twice). It can turn into a mastoid infection which can kill. If Penicillin had not just been developed he would have.
    I have searched the web for natural ear infection remedies, but my dad’s situation keeps coming back to my head.
    I’m not criticizing anyone for going natural at all. I applaud you. I just can’t get myself to do it in the case of ear infections.

  12. Tina H. via Facebook

    I have had 10+ ear surgeries and ear infections are a chronic issue for me. I don`t go to the doc for it. I just chop an onion really fine right onto an old thin dischcloth, making sure that I get the milk of the onion soaked right onto the fabric. I lay down and press the dishcloth onto my ear. Soon I start to feel aa pressure, sucking feeling in the ear, and that is the infection actually leaving the ear. After an hour, i put garlic in my ear. Works wonderful without choking back awful meds!!

  13. Jennifer via Facebook

    I remember my pedi telling me about garlic oil so we could avoid giving DS an antibiotic. It certainly worked!

  14. Heather via Facebook

    Interesting that I read this headline just as my son started complaining of an earache. Thanks so much!

  15. Erica Keith via Facebook

    It seems like any time we treat an ear infection with a prescription we end up with another ear infection with a week or two. and then treat that and end up with another one in a week or two. So we treat that one and then, guess what? we end up with another ear infection. When we’ve done garlic drops it seems like we have one ear infection that clears up and then the kids are fine.

  16. Thank you. My two year old had an ear infection last week, and I was not brave enough to experiment on her. This week I got my first ear infection, ever. Im trying the garlic this morning. Thanks for the post.

  17. Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}

    My 3 year old daughter has never had an ear infection, but has been tugging on her ear since dinner last night and woke up this morning complaining that it hurt. I made a doctor’s appointment for her for later this morning, but decided to do some research first as I was feeling anxious about the possibility of giving her antibiotics. I’m so glad I found your post about your experiences. I will definitely hesitate before giving her any meds. I hope her doc will support the wait and see approach.

  18. Too bad I didn’t see this earlier! I feel like I could have written this post myself! I read a great book that really helped me understand what was going on – called “No More Antibiotics”. It’s by a mom who went to medical school to understand how to heal her daughter and has a great perspective and understanding of ear infections. She has some osteopathic massage techniques that help loosen the head congestion. They have helped my husband and I and our kids when they will cooperate. And I was so excited to tell my husband I’m not the only one putting garlic oil on my kids feet!

    1. Alicia,
      I have to have my husband read comments like this so he knows I’M not the only ones putting weird things on my kids’ feet! 😉 Katiw

  19. Karin Constable

    I am in love with all your blogs! I feel just like you, constantly finding a new hazard or poison I feel my family is being exposed to!
    Another great book we stumbled on at a Homeschool convention was the book “Natural Remedies Encyclopedia”
    I finally tried your yogurt recipe too and I am passing it on to everyone including your “Monday Missions” all over my FB and emails to everyone I know-great resource! Thank you so much for putting into words the importance of spiritual health, physical health and mental health to a total body health in a Godly way! I love your site!

    1. Thank you, Karin! I’m humbled to be “shared” with your friends – I’ll keep up the good content for quite some time, God willing! 😉 Katie

  20. Buffalo Chiropractor

    Great article. I find that many children fight chronic ear aches and ear infections due to an imbalance in their nerve system. I have helped many kids recover very efficiently with chiropractic care. I find that the upper cervical region has an intimate relation with the inner workings of the ear. Parents can’t believe it when their child recovers so fast. If you are suffering from ear aches or ear infections you should consider a consultation with a local chiropractor.

  21. Funny I should randomly come across this today.
    My 2 yo routinely gets an ear infection every time she gets a cold severe enough to give her a fever. Earlier this week, when I saw she had a cold with a fever, I crushed up some garlic with EVOO into a paste ands swabbed it in her ears. I did this again two days later. I also fed her some roasted garlic cloves which she devoured. It seems she is coming through this cold with no ear infection for the first time! After reading this, I may just give her a little more roasted garlic and swab her ears one more time!

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  23. I have always used garlic oil for ear infections and it has worked better for me than the walgreens drops. Whenever my son has a cold I always put garlic oil in his ear as a preventative measure and he has never had an ear infection.

    Garlic in the socks also does wonders for dry unproductive coughs during the night to let you sleep when you are sick. It works better than cough syrup or even raw honey.

  24. Sheri@Moms for Safe Food

    My kids are older now but when they were little I had great success using homeopathy for ear infections. Most times they cleared up really quickly. The first blog post I ever did on Moms For Safe Food is about it:

  25. Musings of a Housewife

    Good stuff! I love this story. We, thankfully, are not prone to ear infections, but I will keep this in mind just the same.

  26. Garlic oil in the ear works wonders from my experience….and another thought, who’s to say that giving your children antibiotics ISN’T performing experiments on our children?

  27. This is a great post – and worth bookmarking just for the useful comments!

    I remember my parents using oil in our ears and I’ve also heard of the breastmilk thing. Whenever anyone in our family is sick I’m constantly buying large quantities of garlic and putting it in anything. Hadn’t heard about the feet thing, but it makes sense to me.

    My parents own a book called “Food, the Miracle Medicine”
    which they are constantly thumbing through and referring to me (and garlic is a major part of our “medicine chest!” as our lemons, honey, eggs and chicken stock!) and I also love “Traditional Home Remedies” by Martha White.

    I remember our family even gathering a specific wild clover, (it tasted kind of minty) drying it and using it in tea when I was a little girl. We were taught to do that from my (native American) great grandmother and my mom used to send me quart-sized freezer bags of the stuff in college! 🙂 I think people thought it was another dried leafy green stored in plastic bags, but it was not. It was tea. 🙂

    Anyway, I’m glad that he is feeling better!

    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Too Much Information =-.

    1. Lenetta @ Nettacow

      Rock on, Sarah – I just snagged both of those books from PaperbackSwap! (If you aren’t using it yet, you should be – ask me for details!)

      I lost a very interesting and witty comment (for sure) but I did want to mention that a friend of mine posted on facebook requesting earache remedies about the same time as this post came through. Garlic oil received high recommendations, but she also got this:

      “using moderate pressure (not too hard), run your finger from directly under the base of your ear (right behind your ear lobe), down your neck about 6 inches; repeat 10-20 times. This can help encourage your eustachian (sp?) tubes to drain out. When I do this, I can tell I am getting fluid out.”

      That sounds like it’d feel good right now, let alone when you have an earache! :>)
      .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Link Roundup – Will The Sun Ever Shine Again? Edition =-.

    2. LOL!!! I’m dyin’ over here thinking about your “tea” Sarah. That’s fabulous!!

      Thanks for the book rec, too. Going on my wish list!
      🙂 Katie (Talk to you tomorrow?)

  28. I’m glad Buddy Boy is feeling better!

    The garlic in the socks made me chuckle! 🙂 My thought is always to try the least invasive thing first, so that definitely qualifies! Dh has never been comfortable with actually putting things (garlic, oil, etc) in the boys’ ears, so I’ll have to tuck the sock trick away for our next ear infection.

  29. CONGRATS TO YOU! I love the idea of healing without antibiotics, I’m always a little nervous to use them. Thankfully, my kids have never had ear infections, but it’s good to know that there is information out there in case I need it!
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..To The Scrap Cave, Robin! =-.

  30. Way to go! I am totally on the same page as you about antibiotics, and you are doing the right thing! 80% of ear infections clear up on their own without the use of antibiotics. I will remember your olive oil and garlic remedies for the future. 🙂
    .-= april´s last blog ..The Wedding =-.

  31. I am so glad you tried it! We have been doing without meds for a while around here and we seem to be getting over any colds, coughs, ickies much faster. Good for you!
    .-= Amy Lynne´s last blog ..My Mam =-.

  32. Garlic and olive oil are a life saver in this housw when it comes to ear aches! And as a previous commentor said add a heating pad on low to the mix and volia the earache is gone and the little ones (or big ones) are off running the world again.

  33. zoe (in England)

    Heeheee, I just did a talk at a school this morning about what they did with infections before antibiotics but that was only for wounds, not for ear infections etc.
    Chopped the offending body part off, OR used maggots on the wound to clear away the nasty stuff.
    .-= zoe (in England)´s last blog ..What I Learned This Week =-.

      1. they also used garlic! during WW1, penicillin was not available in enough quantities to keep up with all the wounds, etc, so garlic was used as an antiseptic and wound-cleaner. Not a single case of gangrene! There’s a reason that garlic was thought to keep vampires & evil creatures away! 🙂

  34. When I was a kid, we rarely went to the doctor (I was born in ’53, so we’re talking ’50’s and early 60″s. Antibiotics were available, but not so many and not so widely used.
    When we got earaches, Mom would heat up some oil (no garlic; just oil) and put a few drops in the affected ear, with a cotton ball “plug”. Then we would either put on a warm winter hat to keep the ear warm, or if the pain was bothersome, use a warm heating pad. That and some baby aspirin for pain, and we were done. It mostly worked!
    Mom was pretty smart!

  35. blossomteacher

    Just came across your site. I haven’t been to the dr. in 3 years with an ear infection…I treat at home w/o antibiotics, with plenty of ear drops, clearing out the sinuses, and warm compresses on my ears. It takes longer for them to go away, but they rarely ever come back! (They used to…one round of antibiotics, and in a week or so, I was on them again!)

    1. bt, What a great testimony! It’s good to hear how home remedies have worked for other people. Thanks! 🙂 Katie

  36. I wouldn’t avid antibiotics if I had a legit infection.
    .-= tonya´s last blog ..rcwant2be: @Arcadia1 they were. Spicy salsa burned my tongue instead. Ice cream cooled it off tho. Did u see my sunset tweet. =-.

    1. My ped emailed and said there is research that
      (1) Ear infections can be viral or bacterial, and docs can’t tell which is which by looking.
      (2) In children OVER 2 many ear infections clear up after 2 days, so waiting that amt of time wouldn’t be very risky.
      She counseled that for Lovey Girl, who is 19 mos., this garlic oil treatment wouldn’t be recommended. I’m guessing that’s because not much research is done on the under-2 crowd.

      1. I am relieved to know that you communicated with your pede about your home remedy. You are in partnership with your doc for your children, so to maintain trust, she does need to know if you have or have not used the antibiotics and your concerns about antibiotic use. And she’s right, you can’t tell by looking at an eardrum if it’s viral or bacterial.
        Re: Lovey Girl, my thought is not the lack of research on the under- 2 crowd, but that there might be a greater risk of complications with that age group; there can be complications, one serious one being meningitis, but that, too, can be viral. If I were you, I would ask her the next time you take one of your kids in — hopefully not for an ear infection.

        If you buy one of those cheapie otoscopes, I would suggest looking in your kids ears lots of times when they are well so that you know what a normal eardrum looks like. It’s been a long time since I worked as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, but I had to look at lots and lots of eardrums of lots and lots of children to be able to see landmarks, eardrum mobility, etc. I take it that Buddy Boy is doing fine? When you said he was fighting a sinus infection, I wondered if the bugs were still present in his body.
        I worked with a pediatrician once who prescribed antibiotics for everything — if they had green mucus in their nose — when the prevailing thought was that abx weren’t necessary.

        1. Anne,
          Thanks for the note about complications in the under 2 crowd. That will keep me from becoming complacent about health decisions. I don’t think Buddy Boy had a sinus infection – if he did, it was the mildest thing ever. Just a runny nose for 2 days. All are well now!
          🙂 Katie

  37. Wow! What a great (and daring!) way to solve the problem. I love how you try to avoid chemicals. Keep it up!
    .-= kanmuri´s last blog ..I wish you a… =-.

  38. never heard of your remedy before but ear infections I know are terrible
    .-= angie´s last blog ..Good Onion Sense =-.

  39. Barb from Allendale

    Home remedies I have known and loved: very strong chamomile tea for kidney or gall stones (1 cup of dried chamomile flowers in a quart jar, fill the jar with boiling water, steep for 2 hours) drink warm throughout the day, repeat for 3 days [doesn’t taste pleasant, but having gone through surgery 5 times for kidney stones, I much prefer the tea]; homeopathic belladonna for a child’s hot dry fever [my 2yo’s fever was down within 15 minutes and stayed down]; homemade elderberry syrup with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and star anise for colds and flu–prevention and treatment [shortens the duration of a virus, and tastes yummy on pancakes and in tea].

  40. Sharinskishe

    I am in college studying to be a Pharmacy Technician and what I have learned about antibiotics is fascinating- especially when it comes to the ears.

    I believe you made the correct choice for your situation, it is the choice I often made myself. I was glad to hear that you were questioning using the antibiotics. You are very wise.

    Thanks for linking with Make-Do Mondays. Have a wonderful week.


  41. I have self-treated for UTIs quite a bit. D-Mannose is suppose to be more effective than antibiotics.

    Have you heard of ear coning/candling? I’ve had it be effective in my practice. And there are others who swear by it, & some who call it quackery.

    I’ve not been blessed with children, but i imagine that it is so hard when the little ones are in pain. Hope he feels better soon.
    .-= Kathryn´s last blog ..Prognosticator =-.

  42. Glad I could help. We swear by the garlic oil, and none of my 8 kids have ever had an ear infection. Or maybe they have, but the garlic oil cured it before we needed to go to the dr! LOL

    BTW – I also use breastmilk as eardrops. I express it privately into a little medicine cup and tell the kids it’s ear drops.
    .-= Milehimama´s last blog ..Martin Luther King, Jr. =-.

  43. Country Living Mom

    Not crazy at all! My kids’ pediatrician does not actually typically prescribe antibiotics for ear infections. Like you mentioned, he said many of them are actually viral, not bacterial. He also said that research shows most ear infections clear up on their own, so he follows a wait and see approach. Just one of the many reasons we love him as our kids’ doctor!
    .-= Country Living Mom´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday =-.

  44. Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up

    Oh yea – here’s my link for natural mastitis “cures”:
    .-= Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up´s last blog ..Soaked Spelt Flakes =-.

  45. What I finally did was get an otoscope (the gadget doctors look in ears with) from Walgreens for $10. It’s not the best quality, but it’s good enough for me to take a peek when they do have an earache, and watch it for a few days to make sure it IS clearing up-so we can save the antibiotics for the infections that genuinely need them. We haven’t had an ear infection that required antibiotics in 2 years. Also, if the pain is really bad, Similisan makes homeopathic pain relief drops for the ears that work very well.

    1. Jamie,
      I thought about the possibility of doing that, too. Good to know they’re only $10! Thanks! 🙂 Katie

    2. OK, I’m almost two years late to this thread, but just wondering how difficult it is to use? I’ve heard it’s not as easy as just looking in and checking… What has been your experience? Thanks!

      1. Kim-it actually is pretty easy. Just be super gentle because if you put the otoscope in too far it will cause discomfort. You can google photos of different stages of eardrum fluid, inflammation, and infection to get a better idea of what to look for.

  46. You are not crazy! I have friends in town that keep garlic oil around just for ear aches.
    Also, when my son was born my midwives had us cut up garlic and put it on his feet under his socks. I really don’t remember why ( I don’t remember much those first few days). Talk about a different kind of newborn smell! haha.
    If you know of any midwives in your area they tend to be more holistic and a great resource for non-medicine remedies.

  47. A heating pad with the garlic and oil can also help relieve the pain. Oil with garlic and mullein flowers works well too. You can find this at the health food store.

  48. Hey Katie,
    Funny you should mention it, my 3 year old was lightly complaining about his ear about a month ago through the night. I had heard of the garlic oil thing and tried it and it seemed to work – although we never went to the doctor, so an ear infection was never confirmed. A little later my three and two year old both were have congestion and their ‘noses weren’t working very well’ in their words. Then I discovered onion on the bedstand was supposed to help – well when my kids saw it there they proceeded to eat the whole onions I had cut up for three days in a row. We really smelled for awhile, but their noses worked better 🙂 And I felt good about not giving them any medicine – and feeling like I was helping instead of feeling helpless!
    Thanks to Donielle about the breastmilk tip too! I love that there are so many ways to avoid medicines that have potential known and unknown side effects!

    1. Emily,
      Raw onions! Wow! Even my 19mo says “Eyes” and cringes when she sees me with an onion. No one in my family can stand the fumes. 😉 Katie

  49. Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up

    Good for you! Only in extreme cases do you really need antibiotics for ear infections. Studies show they last just as long w/ or w/o them.

    And I’ve successfully gotten over mastitis w/o them as well. 3 times! And actually it was antibiotics at birth that started the cascade in infections. ugh.

    *as an fyi (I was offline most of Fri) since you’re nursing yet, drops of breastmilk in the ear are beneficial as well!!

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