Illness: Earache and Ear Infection
Earaches and ear infections are common in babies and toddlers, because their Eustachian tubes can easily become clogged by mucus, and so cultivate infection. These tubes connect your baby’s ear to her throat and regulate air pressure in her ear. At birth, her Eustachian tubes are almost horizontal across her cheek, and this positioning can keep mucus from draining and trap bacteria or viruses. As she gets older, her Eustachian tubes begin to tilt downward and drain more easily.
Earache and Ear Infection: Symptoms
- Tugging on ear
- Accompanying upper-respiratory infection with drainage
- Irritability, fussiness
- Wakes up crying
- Loss of appetite
- Drainage from the ear—may be yellow, brown, or bloody
- Temporary hearing loss
Earache and Ear Infection: Causes
- Clogged Eustachian tubes
- Upper-respiratory infection
- Bacterial or viral infection specific to the ear
- Food stagnation, creating excess heat in the belly and rising into internal meridians from intestines to stomach to inner ear
- Reaction to vaccine
Earache and Ear Infection: Prevention
Earaches in babies are often the result of blockage from a cold. If your baby gets a cold, treat it to help her nasal passages clear.
- If you bottle-feed your baby, feed her slowly and make sure she is upright. Allow time for her formula to digest.
- Protect your baby’s ear pressure when you travel by plane (especially during takeoff and landing), or change elevations while driving by having her breast-feed or suck on a pacifier or bottle.
- Keep your baby’s environment as pollutant-free as possible.
- If your child does require antibiotics, take care to rebuild her immune and digestive systems with fermented foods and probiotic booster.
Earache and Ear Infection: Suggestions for Care
When your baby’s ear hurts due to mucus or infection, keep her immune system charged, so it can fight infection, and keep her as comfortable as possible. These methods can help move mucus:
- Keep the air around your baby well humidified.
- Keep the airway passages in her nose clear. Use a nasal aspirator for babies, and have an older child blow her nose. If the mucus is thick, try a neti pot cleanse to get it flowing.
- Gently pull the earlobe of the ear that hurts. Pull downward and outward to help open the Eustachian tubes and the ear.
- When your baby is resting or sleeping, put her on the side with the ear that hurts up toward the open air.
- Do not use eardrops unless instructed by your health care provider.
- In the past, health care providers commonly used antibiotics for earaches. Today, most pediatricians prefer to monitor an earache to see if it turns into an infection that the immune system alone cannot heal before prescribing antibiotics.
Food and Remedies for Nursing Mother or Baby Older than Six Months
With earaches and ear infections, offer foods that boost immunity, and keep your baby hydrated and comfortable.
Foods to Emphasize
Warm foods and a simple diet to keep your baby hydrated and to build digestion and immunity. Frequently breast-feed or bottle-feed your baby. For older children, offer water, broth, herbal tea, fermented foods, and probiotic booster. Chamomile herbal tea can help loosen mucus and relieve an earache. Kuzu drinks help calm your baby and are alkaline-producing for the blood.
Foods to Avoid
Cold foods and beverages, as well as foods that cause allergies or thicken and increase mucus, such as dairy products, wheat, eggs, corn, oranges, and peanut butter. Also stay away from foods that decrease immunity, such as sugar, fruit, and juice.
Essential Oils for Baby
Put warm sesame oil, lavender oil, or tea tree oil on a cotton ball. Press the cotton ball into the affected ear to ease the pain and to help loosen mucus in the passageway. Ginger compress or warm washcloth over the ear; Bach’s Rescue Cream rubbed around the ear and the affected area.
Acupoints for Baby
- Stomach 36
- Spleen 3, 9
- Kidney 3, 7
- Triple Heater 5
- Gallbladder 20
- Liver 3
- Governing Vessel 20
Reiki for Baby
For two or more minutes, place your hands on the following parts of your child’s body: in front of and behind the ear and at the base of the skull.
Massage for Baby
Massage your baby’s ears by placing the fleshy part of your palm below your thumb onto her ears and rotating. This can help keep her Eustachian tubes open.
- Massage the gallbladder and spleen meridians.
- Massage the triple heater meridian from her elbow to the back of her hand.
Earache and Ear Infection: Concerns
Earaches are common, and most get better quickly with a little care. Ear infections can recur in some children, however. Be careful to treat an ear infection early, because it can cause the eardrum to rupture if left untreated. Repeated ear infections can cause language-development problems or hearing loss. Contact your health care provider if your baby has swelling, pain, or redness behind her ear or has fluid or blood leaking from her ear.
Note: The suggestions and ideas in this article are not intended to take the place of professional guidance or treatment; they are meant to complement the advice of your child’s health care provider, caretakers, and educators, while offering consolidated information to help you develop your intuition and make choices that fit with your own personal, religious, or spiritual philosophies. There is no guarantee as to the effects of the use of the recommendations and no liabilities can be taken.