November 13, 2009

Causes, Symptoms & Home Remedies For Ear Infection in Infants

Posted in Category : Child Health

The ear consists of three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear. It is often in the middle ear that ear infections begin and cause pain in both children and adults. The inflammation in the middle ear is known as acute otitis media. AOM is an infection that affects the middle ear, caused by bacteria that travel to the middle ear from the buildup of fluids in the Eustachian tube. It often occurs after an attack of cold or flu. Ear infections in general are very painful, and in infants, they can be very frustrating for both the child and the parents. Middle ear infections are more common in children than in adults. Ear infections recur if they occur early during infancy.

What Really Happens in an Ear Infection?

In some cases of ear infections, fluids get trapped behind the ear drum in one or both ears; this is called effusion. In severe conditions, the fluid can get very sticky and is termed a ‘glue ear.’ This is not very painful, but the feeling that accompanies it is as if one is under water. If infants develop ear infection in infancy, they might get it frequently till they are three years of age. The fluid in general drains from the inner ear by the Eustachian tube. Most often through the day we are sitting or standing, which makes it easier. But with infants the case is not so. This makes them more susceptible to ear infections.

Symptoms and Causes of Ear Infection in Infants

Parents can recognize if their infants have ear infections by their gestures like tugging their ears more often than usual. Infants may also vomit or get diarrhea during ear infections. There could be reduced appetite along with gastrointestinal upsets. Babies might not feed well as they it could be painful to swallow. There could be whitish or yellow fluid discharge from the ears.

Ear infections in infants could be caused due to allergies, cold and sinus infections, tobacco smoke or other irritants, and excess saliva and mucus produced during teething; in most infants, it is due to drinking from a feeding bottle or sipper while lying down. The other risk factors that can contribute to ear infections in infants are genetic factors, pacifier use, cold climates, not being breastfed, or any recent illness that has reduced immunity.

Home Remedies

Some of the ear infections in infants get cleared on their own without the use of antibiotics. To relieve pain, you can use over-the-counter ear drops for ears or consult a doctor for specific ear drops. If the child has fever, you can give acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but do not give aspirin to babies as it can cause other complications. If the child is younger than six months and has fever, it is important to see a doctor. Antibiotics are prescribed if there is persistent pain and the fever has not subsided.

If the infection is not severe, for fluid in ears in infants various home remedies are helpful. Ginger, garlic and onion are considered to heal ear infections.

  • You can boil few slices of ginger and allow it to cool. Soak a warm wet towel with the liquid and place it on the ear with infection for 20 minutes to relieve pain. Ginger is has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
  • Few flakes of garlic can be boiled in 15 ml of olive oil or one drop of garlic oil added after heating the oil. Dip a wad of cotton wool in the oil and place it in the ear. Garlic is an excellent antibiotic. Olive oil is the purest and no bacteria survive in it.
  • Onion can be crushed and juice be dipped in cotton wad and placed in the ear for relief. Onion is an effective antihistamine.

Always consult your doctor before self-medicating or using any home remedies.


To prevent ear infections in children, it is best to avoid use of pacifiers, wash hands and toys frequently, breastfeed the child, or hold the infant upright when being bottle fed. Also, keep the child away from second hand smoke and do not overuse antibiotics.