Guest post by Holly Sanford, RN, BSN, CPEN
If you have a little one, you have most likely encountered an ear infection and the discomfort it causes. In this article, learn about effective home remedies to maximize your child’s comfort and promote healing when diagnosed with an ear infection.
Ear infections are very common within the pediatric population, and most children experience at least one ear infection before age three. Fortunately, many ear infections do not require antibiotics, as they are typically caused by viruses. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends providers only prescribe antibiotics for moderate to severe cases of infection unless the child is very young or has a compromised immune system. This is because many ear infections will clear up on their own within a few days and viruses do not respond to antibiotics.
Additionally, persistent exposure to antibiotics may cause the body to not respond appropriately to antibiotics when needed to treat more severe infections and can lead to significant diarrhea. If you believe your child has an ear infection, contact your provider to determine the best plan of care.
Ear Infection Home Remedies
Check out the home remedy tips below to help your little one experience relief from this painful infection.
Many children will benefit from a warm compress around 10 minutes at a time over the infected ear. Ensure the temperature is comfortable for your child by testing it on yourself first. Wrap the compress in a towel to buffer the temperature if needed. Never use a heating pad as it may increase the risk of a burn. The heat will often provide soothing comfort to your little one, especially if utilized while waiting for Tylenol or Motrin to take effect.
Over-the-counter Pain and Fever Medication
If your child is experiencing pain, administer a dose of Tylenol or Motrin. Most oral medications will take effect within 30 to 60 minutes and will help reduce a fever. Do not give Motrin if your little one is less than 6 months of age or if your child has allergies to these medications. Confirm the correct dose of the medication prior to administration. It may be helpful to give a dose of pain medication before bedtime to help your child get the best night’s sleep!
Encourage your child to sleep on the side opposite of the infected ear. Sleeping on the infected ear may cause more pressure and pain. If your child is over 2 years old, prop the head and shoulders up on a pillow at bedtime to increase comfort.
Massaging behind the ear, under the chin and on the forehead may help soothe your baby and distract them from their ear pain, thus reducing overall pain. This mechanism is especially beneficial when your child desires to relax before bedtime or while awaiting a pain reliever to take effect.
Adequate sleep is essential to maintaining an immune system that will effectively fight infection. Especially when little ones are sick, they may need extra attention and interventions at bedtime to feel more comfortable so be sure to start your routine a little earlier. Suction the nose with the Nozebot after administering a few drops of saline or nose spray before bed if there are any signs of congestion to clear the airway prior to sleep.
Most children prefer processed and high sugar foods. Unfortunately, this may impact the immune system. Encourage a variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins based on your child’s age. Children typically enjoy smoothies, and this is a fun way to add extra vitamins and minerals to your child’s diet. Always offer plenty of water and limit sugary and caffeinated drink options.
These home remedies may be just what your child needs to promote healing and provide comfort if suffering from an ear infection. If you are ever worried about your little one, notify your healthcare provider. Additionally, contact your provider if you child has any of the following symptoms associated with an ear infection: fever greater than 102, drainage from the ear, changes in hearing, frequent ear infections, little one less than 6 months old, unresolved pain, bilateral ear infections or stiffness in the neck or back.
If you're looking for more information on ear health, you'll enjoy these articles:
- 5 Things Parents Need to Know About Ear Tubes
- Everything Parents Need to Know About Ear Infections
- Why Most Babies Can't Breathe Through Their Mouth
Holly Sanford, RN, BSN, CPEN is a mother and a pediatric nurse of 9 years with a lifelong passion for helping children and their families. In her free time, she loves cooking new recipes, traveling to unique places and staying active with her family.
Help Relieve Ear Pain At Home
The Nozebot is a battery-powered suction device designed to clear nasal congestion in babies and children.