Careful monitoring of the child's condition (watchful waiting) along with home remedies may be a viable alternative to antibiotic treatment for many children with a first episode of acute otitis media. However, in some situations parents should contact their medical professional immediately:
- Seek immediate medical attention for high fever, severe pain, or other signs of complications.
- Parents of infants should contact their doctor immediately if they have any fever, regardless other symptoms.
Natural Remedies for Ear Aches
Before antibiotics, parents used home remedies to treat the pain of ear infections. Now, with current concern over antibiotic overuse, many of these remedies are again popular.
- Parents can press a warm water bottle or warm bag of salt against the ear. Such old-fashioned remedies may help to ease ear pain.
- Due to the high risk of burns, ear candles should not be used to remove wax from ears. These candles are not safe or effective for treatment of AOM or other ear conditions.
Herbal remedies are not standardized or regulated, and their quality and safety are largely unknown. Parents should never give their child herbal remedies, including oral remedies, without approval from a doctor.
Valsalva's Maneuver. A simple technique called the Valsalva's maneuver is useful in opening the Eustachian tubes and providing occasional relief from the chronic stuffy feeling that accompanies otitis media with effusion. It may also be useful for unplugging ears during air travel descent. It works as follows:
- The child takes a deep breath and closes the mouth.
- The child then blows the nose gently while, at the same time, pinching it firmly shut.
- The parent should be sure to instruct the child not to blow too hard or the eardrum could be harmed.
Do not use this technique if an infection is present.
Review Date: 05/03/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.