Prevent a Cold Leading to Ear Infection

Updated on July 22, 2008
M.V. asks from San Jose, CA
13 answers


My 8 month old daughter is running an ear infection now. She had one last month as well. I am just wondering if there are any precautions that can be taken when they start a cold, so that it does not become an ear infection?

I usually do humidifier, saline drops , steam inhalation etc to help with the cold.


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answers from San Francisco on

Hi M., Maybe I am lucky, but my 3 year old has only had one ear infection and my 2 year old has never had one. The only thing I did consistently with both of them was to 'plunger' them and clear out their noses constantly when they had colds. Get a good nasal aspirator and they will cry, but it's better than the long term damage of antibiotics.

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answers from Sacramento on

My daughter is prone to ear infections, my son is not. She is 15 now and I learned a lot. The minute they get congested, cut out all dairy products. This is the most important point of all. Dairy builds up mucus which is a breeding ground for bacterial infections. Your doctor will even give you this advice also. Feed them soy or almond milk. My kids love almond milk. Then, get a good ear oil from the health food store, one with garlic in it, and put 1 drop in each ear when you think one is coming on. Garlic is highly antibacterial and although they will smell like spaghetti for a couple days, it works. Lastly, put them on some good immune fighting herbs. Herbs for Kids makes a good glycerine (sweet) tincture of echinacea and astragalus. The echinacea is a surface immune stimulant but the body normalizes itself to it after about 10 days and it doesn't do any good after this period of time. Astragalus is a deep immune tonic and I traditionally put my whole family on it in the late fall, heading into cold and flu season. You can also cook shitake mushrooms for a good immune boost. There is also...French Onion Soup (minus the cheese on top). Onion is a master mucus cleanser and onion soup works more miracles than chicken soup. For adults, add some hot spices to bring some heat to the body in the winter.
Personally, I don't use a humidifier or steam inhalation unless we have some wheezing or trouble breathing going on. In my experience, a humidifier can dampen the air to the point that it sends a cold deeper into the chest. A hot shower running with the bathroom door shut in case of difficulty breathing works nicely but every day is not necessary.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Hi M.,

I am a certified homeopath and I teach classes on how to prevent colds and ear infections in children and what to do about them if your child gets one. I cannot give you the information of the 90 minutes class in one e-mail, but here are some tips.

The first thing for ear infections is to put some warm mulein and garlic oil drops in the child's ear, provided there was no ear drum perforation. If the ear infection is just starting, this can stop it. Those drops can also help with ear pain if the infection just started.

Another thing to do for ear infection is to give your baby a homeopathic remedy. In my class I teach which remedy to give. Very often Plusatilla 30C 3 times a day will do the trick.

Take a look at my web site I will probably have classes again in September.

Best wishes,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

When I was a baby I regularly got bronchitis and was given lots of antibiotics, which has affected my health all my life, so I'm really trying to keep my baby's colds from developing into infections (ear or chest). When he gets a cold I try to get him some immune-boosting herbs as soon as he shows symptoms (I use chinese yin chao formula). Push the fluids--I give him lots of water to drink during his awake hours to keep the mucus thin and flowing, and I put him to sleep with a flat pillow (not too fluffy) under his head and chest to promote drainage--you don't want fluid backing up into the ears--and it helps baby sleep better too. Sleep is really important for healing, especially good deep sleep. I just learned that humidity and steam is not usually necessary since we live in such a damp area, and may worsen the condition. I take my baby to a pediatric acupuncturist & am really pleased with the results; many of my friends see other naturopaths like pediatric homeopaths, especially for any condition where western docs give antibiotics. You might also try to give your daughter some probiotics--the stuff in yogurt, but more active and concentrated--to build up her body's resistance. It's all worked for us so far--one year old, several colds and no infections. There are lots of resources online for alternative medicine for kids. Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Ear infections are a sign of low immune system. Was she born premature? Also, if she had one last month and now another one, that just means, from experience, that the antibiotic she was on last month wasn't effective enough in treating that first infection. Were you giving the proper dose at the proper time each day, for the prescribed number of days? Commonsense remedies for colds include lots to drink, vitamin supplements, and yes, chicken soup! Hope you get the same advice from your physician. Is your pediatrician competent? She may actually advice draining out the fluid from your baby's ears in order to prevent future infections... Make sure your pediatrician has lots of experience handling ear infections. Get a highly-recommended pediatrician, if I were you. Hope this helps!



answers from Modesto on

Hi M.!

Ears are "tricky" at this age, aren't they!!!!!!!

When my boys were little, I was told to watch their head position when feeding. If their head was slightly elevated over their chest, then the milk was able to go down and not get stuck in the Eustchian Tube....which what causes an ear infection.

Using that info throughout their young years, I used to prop their heads up on firm pillows at small intervals of time to allow for easier breathing, eating etc... Or was just cautious while feeding them a bottle. This eliminated the amount of ear infections they had when they were young. Truly....they each had only one. Now, were they lucky, or was is it because I elevated their heads? :o) I'll never know.....

Now they are 11 and 5, and with all the swimming we have a different ear routine :o)

Hope your daughter feels better soon.

:o) N.



answers from Yuba City on

My kids all had bad ears, bad ears run in my family-
my sister had "tubes" when they were brand new state of the art. All I can tell you is they do outgrow it usually-at around age 5 the eustaian tube straightens out. IN the meantime! dimetapp or something like that at first sign of cold (runny nose)
can help. Your child also may have seasonal allergies, and require Rx when she is bigger. I found that watching them closely helps, my oldest would get stumbly when her ears started to go bad (of course yours doesnt walk yet) She wound upon a long term lose dose antibiotic when she was 2.My middle one would tug her lil ears and not nurse/suck well. She had tubes, twice, the first time at 5 months. My last kid I volunteered at a clinic so his ears were checked EVERY week. He tended to lose hearing, underwater so bad in his ears, he still requires allergy meds spring & fall. I actually have a little model of the ear light docs use, and learned to know when meds were required. Ask your doc about this, and look when he looks in the ears so you learn what to recognize. Also you will learn what color snot means what: clear is ok and common with teething as well as allergies. Yellow is usually pollen, green is usually infection.



answers from San Francisco on

Did you or her dad have frequent ear infections as kids? Some times this plays a factor in whether or not your kids will get them frequently. I have a friend w/3 kids...2 of her 3 (her boys) had frequent ear infections until about 4 or so, as did she & her husband. Our second baby had his 1st cold by at least 2 months cuz his older brother (4.5yo at the time) was in preschool. This was just the first of many colds for #2 until he built up immunity. I bought a wedge-shaped pillow (it was about 2ft long or so & maybe 3"-4" thick at the top) from a catalog called One Step Ahead, that I put under his fitted sheet in the crib. His head stayed propped & it helped keep his nose & ears from filling up too much. I used it til he was about 7-8 months old when he started rolling around too much but it definately helped. I think Babies R Us also sells them in the store but definately on-line.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi M. - You are right to try and prevent ear infections and to look for proactive measures you can take. My story is related to feeding, not necessarily colds leading to infections, but may help, too. When my daughter (now 25) was a baby she had multiple ear infections, which led to multiple courses of antibiotics which can cause other problems as well. I had asked the pediatrician if there was anything I might have been doing that was causing the ear infections and he said no, that some babies are just prone to them. When she had multiple ear infections he told me she would need tubes in her ears if she had another ear infection. I asked again if there was indeed anything I might be doing that was causing this. He told that me propping the bottle while feeding could cause ear infections because of pooling of liquids in throat, sinuses and into ear canals, but you may already know that. I was not propping, but it turned out the daycare was. In addition, I began to always keep her upright for at least half an hour after feeding and burping to make an effort to keep liquids from pooling, and she did not have another ear infection. I think of pooling of formula in sinuses and ear canals was the reason she had so many. Best of luck to you. I know all will be well.



answers from Fresno on

I usually use the saline drops and the sucker a lot when she has a cold.



answers from San Francisco on

Allergies caused the initial problem for my daughter. We thought it was a series of colds, but it was not. Once we put her on Claratin (1 yr old), she was much better. We also had tubes put in her ears. Then she was able to hear. Thankfully, the speech delays were gone in under a month.... one word babbles to full sentences at 14 mo.

Check out the allergies. She was allergic to our house, as it turned out.




answers from San Francisco on

Hi M.,

It sounds like you are doing everything possible to prevent it. The only thing that I can suggest is just to be extra careful that you don't get water in her ears when you are bathing her or washing her hair. You could also ask the pediatrician for vitamin drops to keep her immune system up. I am not sure if you are breastfeeding or not, but if you are- keep it up- that alone has lots of health benefits.

Take care,


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