It’s not uncommon for a child to have an ear infection— more than 80 percent of children in the U.S. are diagnosed with ear infections by the time they’re 3 years old.
Pediatric ear infections are also the most common condition that antibiotics are prescribed for in the U.S., according to studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association, but many parents are worried about giving their child antibiotics.
Although your child might have frequent ear infections, antibiotics may not have to be the first line of defense. Here are eight natural remedies you can try:
1. Wait and watch
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that in low-risk kids, a wait-and-watch approach is a better choice than prescribing antibiotics right away. The guidelines, however, will vary depending on your child’s age, severity of symptoms, and whether the infection is in one or both ears.
2. Onion earmuffs
It might seem odd, but “onion ear muffs,” can help ease pain and the antimicrobial properties can heal the infection, Krumbeck said.
3. Garlic oil
Studies show that garlic is anti-inflammatory, will relieve pain, and can fight an ear infection whether it’s viral or bacterial, said Dr. Elisa Song, a holistic pediatrician at Whole Family Wellness in Belmont, California, and founder of Healthy Kids Happy Kids.
4. Acupressure and essential oils
Lavender essential oil reduces inflammation and when used with acupressure, it can help relieve ear infections.
The acupressure points are located in front of and behind the ear and the space between the thumb and index finger on the hand.
5. Use a humidifier
Running a humidifier can help to counteract the dry indoor air, reduce swelling, moisten the membranes and thin the mucus in the Eustachian tubes.
6. Elevate the bed
Prop up your child’s head with pillows to allow the fluid to drain down. For babies, boost up the head of the crib with some books.
7. Vitamin C
An oral vitamin C supplement can reduce swelling in the ears but it’s important to ask your doctor about the dosage, as too much can lead to diarrhea, Krumbeck said.
8. Homeopathic remedies
Studies show that homeopathic treatments can reduce the pain of ear infections and work faster than antibiotics.