The Truth About Breastmilk for Ear Infections

I see a lot of recommendations to put breast milk into ears for ear infections.

The thing to understand about milk in ears is this:

Most baby ear infections are middle ear infections. An infection that is behind the ear drum. The ear drum does not allow the milk to pass through to interact directly with the bacteria causing the infection. Milk in the ear only directly comes in contact with the infection if it is an infection of the outer ear/ear canal. (such as “swimmer’s ear”)

MOST ear infections clear up without the need for treatment. The current AAP recommendation is to wait 48-72 hours after diagnosis of an ear infection before trying antibiotics. Many ear infections will clear on their own given time.

So what does milk in the ear do?

It is soothing. A warm liquid in the ear does help soothe the pain, just as a warm compress or drops of warm oil would.

It also introduces a liquid into the ear that can cause an infection of the ear canal. This is unlikely as breastmilk tends to cure rather than cause infections, however if breastmilk becomes trapped in the ear eventually the breastmilk will decay and bacteria will be attracted to it.

For me the “benefits” of temporarily soothing the pain (until the warmth goes away) don’t outweigh the risks of putting something into the ear. I stick with a warm rice sock which provides the same benefit and I wait the 72 hours to see if the ear infection clears or sticks around.

I have only had to give antibiotics for an ear infection to one of my children once.

When the milk can come in contact with the infection? YES. Use it. I got rid of pinkeye with milk. (Careful, it blurs your vision temporarily because of the fat content of the milk). I’ve gotten rid of minor skin infections and irritations with it as well. It even helped get rid of my dog’s dermatitis a bunch of years ago. For ear infections? I do the wait and see route and if necessary I go with antibiotics.

  2 comments for “The Truth About Breastmilk for Ear Infections

  1. Monique
    February 26, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Good to know! Interesting about the dog skin treatment, I will have to try in next time my pooch has a flair up!

  2. jennifer
    August 8, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    also chiropractic care, with 10 minutes my son feels better.

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