Ear infection causes and treatments

Pediatrician Jay Gordon, MD, shares advice for parents on the most common causes of ear infections in children and the best way to treat your child's ear infection
Ear Infection Causes And Treatments For Children
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

Ear infection causes and treatments


Most common infection in a pediatric office, the most common significant infection is an otitis media, a middle ear infection. When I look into a child's ear, I'm looking through the ear canal, I'm looking at the ear drum, which sits transverse in the ear canal, and behind that is the middle ear cavity. The middle ear cavity connects to the Eustachian tube which connects to the throat. If things get blocked up, a lot of mucus, a lot of inflammation, suddenly the middle ear doesn't drain well. And at the very least there's a collection of extra fluid and sometimes that fluid is infected. The organism causing the infection can be a virus or a bacteria. The eardrum bulges and it hurts, so I recommend that if the parents are sure the eardrum is intact, not perforated, they can put a few drops of mullein oil, warm mullein garlic oil which you can get at any health food store, in to the ear canal to take some of the pressure away it decreases the inflammation. I recommend extra Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Echinacea, elderberry, homeopathy. I recommend watchful waiting. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the British Academy of Pediatrics all recommend that ear infections not be treated with antibiotics during the first three days because you tend to created resistance bacteria when you treat ear infections over and over. And many ear infections are viral. I do use antibiotics. On day two or three when a child has a fever, when a child is sick looking, I'll use antibiotics. But most ear infections will resolve at the same rate with or without antibiotics and parents should know that.

Pediatrician Jay Gordon, MD, shares advice for parents on the most common causes of ear infections in children and the best way to treat your child's ear infection


Expert Bio

More from Expert

Jay Gordon, MD


Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP, IBCLC - In the middle of his residency training, pediatrician Jay Gordon took an unusual step. Deciding that he needed greater knowledge about nutrition, vitamins, and alternative medicine in order to practice medicine the way he wanted to, Dr. Gordon took a Senior Fellowship in Pediatric Nutrition at Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York City. After his residency at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Dr. Gordon joined the teaching attending faculty at UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Intensely interested in infant nutrition and breastfeeding, Dr. Gordon is the first male physician to sit for and pass the International Board of Lactation Certification Exam and has served on the Professional Advisory Board of La Leche League for 24 years.

In addition to treating patients, he participates in the training of medical students and residents, lectures all over the world, writes books, and writes a monthly column for “Fit Pregnancy” magazine. He has contributed to “New York Parent,” “Parenting” magazine and has been quoted in the L.A. Times, New York Times, and The London Times.

Dr. Gordon’s first book, the well-received Good Food Today, Great Kids Tomorrow, offers a life-changing plan for families who want to make dramatic changes in health and fitness through nutrition. Brighter Baby examines the positive effect that attachment parenting, combined with infant massage, has on children’s health and intelligence. Other releases include: Good Night! The Parents’ Guide to the Family Bed and Hug Your Baby, a Gentle Guide through the First Year, which was released summer, 2002. He also authored Listening To Your Baby: A New Approach to Parenting Your Newborn, which still gets great reviews from parents. His most recent book is The ADD and ADHD Cure, the Natural Way to Treat Hyperactivity and Refocus Your Child.

When the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Television and the Media named Dr. Gordon “the most influential doctor in America,” they were referring, tongue-in-cheek, to Dr. Gordon’s role, as the medical script consultant, in eliminating lollipops from the office of “Doctor Weston,” lead character on the sitcom “Empty Nest.”

After two years of consulting on television scripts, sets, and ideas, Dr. Gordon was named CBS TV’s Medical Consultant for Children’s programming. He also worked for five years on ABC Television as the on-air medical correspondent for the “Home Show,” and continues to consult regularly for television and movies. He’s appeared on Fox 11 News, ABC’s 20/20 and most recently on Larry King Live. 

Dr. Gordon contributed and wrote the forward to Smart Medicine for a Healthy Child and The Encyclopedia of Vitamins and Supplements (both published in 1999), is pediatric consultant for “Fit Pregnancy” magazine and a frequent contributor to “Parents,” “Parenting,” and other media outlets.
 Busy as he is, Dr. Gordon finds that his most challenging job is “being a good husband and the best possible parent to my 22 year-old daughter.”

More Parenting Videos from Jay Gordon, MD >