Everything You Need to Know About Ear Infections (that you doctor won’t tell you), Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of everything you need to know about ear infections (that your doctor won’t tell you).

In last week’s post, we focused on myths, facts, and prevention…from why ear infections are often misdiagnosed, to the value of changing up your child’s pillow, to supplementation and diet.

Today’s post will focus on 8 antibiotic-free ways to manage an ear infection once it’s already struck.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendation that Bears Repeating

The American Academy of Pediatrics confirms that 80% of children whose ear infections are not treated immediately with antibiotics heal on their own. Their recommendation—though very few physicians follow it—is to watch and wait.

Yet prescriptions for antibiotics are routinely written for nearly every child that comes in with symptoms of an ear infection.

What can you do as a parent?

  • First and foremost, listen to your intuition. If you feel that your child should see their primary care provider to have their ears examined, by all means TAKE THEM.
    • But, like we discussed in last week’s post, before the doctor makes a diagnosis by just looking in their ears, ask that the area be swabbed and cultured. This is the ONLY way to accurately diagnose an ear infection.
  • If your doctor wants to write a prescription, ask her opinion on the AAP’s “watch and wait” strategy. Many times the doctor will say it’s okay to wait a few days before filling the prescription.
    • Doctors are used to parents wanting a quick fix for their children…hence the quick draw for antibiotics. If you ask them a few questions, and make it clear you want to avoid this course, they are usually happy to provide you with options.
  • If your doctor is unwilling to provide you with options, you may want to consider getting a second opinion from an integrative physician, such as a Naturopath or Integrative Family Physician or another Alternative Practitioner.

8 Antibiotic-free ways to manage an ear infection

1. Chiropractic Adjustments—many parents don’t think of chiropractic when an ear infection strikes. But it is one of THE most effective ways to help move lymphatic flow, reduce pain and pressure, bring down a fever, boost immunity, and help an ear infection heal.

Here’s how it works.

If the bones in the top of your baby’s neck become restricted (due to birth, or any other type of physical stressor), the muscles around that area—which correspond directly with the lymph nodes and ear canal—cannot contract and work correctly.

An adjustment gently and effectively frees up the muscles, allowing the surrounding lymph nodes to flush out fluid and congestion that pools in the area.

For more research on how chiropractic helps ear infections click here.

2. Massage and/or CranioSacral Therapy—massage automatically helps move stagnant fluid out of the lymph nodes and ears.

For children and babies, use very light pressure—only enough to leave an indentation on the skin. This is a great time to use your essential oil/carrier oil mix listed above.

Begin by making sure the child is warm and comfortable. A hot water bottle placed until their neck is incredibly soothing, can help the whole process along.

If your child has been restless or unable to fall asleep, ear massage provides a nice interlude to healing sleep.

Start massaging the prominent bony part (mastoid process) behind the child’s ear.

From there work down the side of the neck, and in the very front of the neck with long, gentle strokes.

If you feel a swollen lymph node, stay on that area and massage in light tiny circles. If it is painful for the child, reduce pressure or increase distance from the center of the swelling.

Continue massaging for 5 or 10 minutes, or until you feel it’s time to stop. You can’t overdo it as long as you’re gentle.

3. Cold Laser Therapy—many chiropractic and integrative health clinics offer cold laser therapy. For ear infections, it helps circulation.  By using the laser on the ear and surrounding area, it helps move the fluid along and reduce the inflammation. We use the erchonia laser with great success in our clinic.

4. Moist Heat—this at-home method has been used by mothers for centuries. It works by increasing circulation to the area to move the fluid…and it’s super simple to do, here’s how:

Wet a facecloth or tea towel with warm water and place it on the affected ear and neck. You can also add one of the essential oils listed above.

Be sure to cover the ear and the side of the neck to help drain those lymph nodes in the sides and front of the neck.

A little moist heat applied before and after massage will really help relax the child and move fluid along.

5. Garlic Oil—we mentioned garlic oil last week as a preventative, but it also is an essential home remedy when ear infections strike.

It’s no secret that garlic is one of nature’s most potent immune boosters. (If your child can stand to take it raw, internally (mixing with some raw honey helps) that will help him too.)

 You can buy garlic oil from the health food store or online, but it’s so easy and affordable to make yourself using this recipe:

Homemade Garlic Oil for Eachaches

You’ll need a small, preferably glass container with a lid. You can also use a small plastic container if thats all you have on hand.



  1. Warm the oil slightly in a pan on the stove over low heat (dont make it hot, just warm to the touch).
  2. Place the oil and garlic in the container put on the lid.
  3. For best results, let the oil and garlic infuse overnight for use the next day. If you need a quick remedy, you can use some of the oil within 2-3 hours.
  4. When ready to use, use your clean finger to rub the oil around the outside of the ear or on the infected area.
  5. You may also use your finger to rub some at the entrance to the ear and allow one or two drops to enter the ear canal.
  6. A drop or two can also be placed inside the ear, or on a cotton ball inserted the ear.

Bonus: This oil can also be rubbed on the feet before sleep to help speed healing and further boost immunity.

6. Plain old warm olive oil—heat oil gently until it is body temperature and drop into the irritated ear using a dropper or saturated cotton ball.

Though this won’t have the same antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects of garlic oil, it will help soothe the ear and reduce the swelling without the garlic odor.

7. Colloidal Silver—colloidal silver (a natural, liquid mineral supplement found in health food stores or online) can be dropped directly in the ear canal to help to kill bacteria, reduce the swelling, and minimize pain.

8. Rock Salt—this is another time-tested home remedy that many of us have forgotten.

Place some rock salt (found in any grocery store) in the bottom of a sock, and either microwave or bake the sock until it’s nice and warm. Not too hot but not lukewarm either.

Place the sock over the infected ear to soothe pain, improve circulation, and pull fluid from the canal.

Voila! Youre now armed with the facts about ear infections (including how to talk to your doctor), and how to prevent and manage them without always resorting to drugs or invasive procedures.

I love to hear your feedback. What ways to do help your child manage the discomfort of an ear infection? Is there a home remedy or family secret you’d like to share?

Help us boost our children’s defenses and overcome our country’s dependence on antibiotics by sharing your wisdom below.

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