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Although there are many home remedies for ear infections, few of these have been subjected to clinical testing, making it impossible to commit to statements about their efficacy. It’s also potentially dangerous to treat an ear infection with a method that doesn’t involve traditional Western medicine. Though not all ear infections are of bacterial origin, some are and require antibiotics to prevent permanent damage to hearing; before people decide to use an alternative remedy, they may want to consult with a doctor to determine whether an infection might require antibiotic treatment. Once given an all clear by a physician, people can choose from many home remedies for ear infections.
One of the home remedies for ear infections recommended by doctors who straddle the fence between natural and traditional medicines, such as pediatrician William Sears, is using oil in the ears to help calm infection down. Sears and others suggest olive or garlic oil that is slightly warmed but not hot. A few drops of either of these oils can be placed directly into the ear to reduce discomfort, and the oil may have a healing effect too. Even if a person plans to treat the ear infection at a doctor’s office, using oil may be a good way to promote pain relief in the interim.
For breastfeeding babies who get an ear infection, another suggested home remedy is to drop several droplets of breast milk into each ear to calm the infection. It’s argued that breastmilk has certain antibiotic properties that may help fight presence of bacteria. Other suggested liquids that might be put in one or both ears include onion water, a variety of other oils, or hydrogen peroxide.
Instead of placing liquids in the ear, another of the home remedies for ear infections relies on placing warmth outside of the ear. Many people recommend heating salt in a sock, so that it is warm but not steaming hot. This can be used as a compress on the outside of the ear to address ear pain. Others suggest a hairdryer on a warm setting may accomplish something similar if directed at the child’s ear. Yet, the loud sounds of a hairdryer may be too shocking, especially for babies who are already upset by pain.
Many types of home remedies for ear infections rely on taking a variety of herbs to cure them once an infection is underway. Some suggested herbs include echinacea and zinc. Vitamins like vitamin C are also recommended. With a healthy diet, vitamin C supplementation is unnecessary, and studies show taking greater amounts than recommended doesn’t have additional benefits.
Other home remedies for ear infections can be found in a variety of places, and the number of Internet suggestions alone could overwhelm people. Few, if any, of these remedies have passed legitimate scientific scrutiny, though they may have been used for many years. Getting medical help first before trying a remedy is still recommended as the safest course.