Ear infections – especially in younger children – can become a problem during the winter months. This is because it’s the height of the cold and flu season.

Why can a cold or flu lead to ear infection?

The ear is connected to the nasal cavities, so infections in the upper respiratory system can travel into the ear. This is an easier journey in small children, because the eustachian tube is still fairly flat. As children grow, their eustachian tube becomes more angled, making drainage easier and less susceptible to infection. However, the following advice may be used for people of all ages.

So what can you do?

1. Eliminate sugar and processed carbs (juice, non-whole grain bread, cold cereal, flavored yogurts, etc.) and bring in whole foods made using traditional cooking/preparation methods (this should be a lifestyle change, not just during the illness).

2. Use an ear oil that reduces pain and inflammation: mullein flower and garlic (you can also add St. John’s wort)

3. A soothing warm compress made from flax seed or rice and chamomile flowers can be made out of a sock. Tie off the end, and microwave in 30 second intervals, and shake it up so the seeds don’t overheat and burn. Place directly on the affected ear. The warmth decreases pain and may help them sleep.

4. Prebiotics in chicory and dandelion root tea helps to support good gut bacteria (remember the gut is part of the immune system!)

When to see the doctor…

  • If you see any discharge from the ear, including pus or blood
  • Infection seems to be getting worse instead of better
  • Babies under 6 months with fever over 101 or with severe pain (crying and pulling or hitting ear, etc.)