Home Remedies for Ear Infection: Earache Remedies to Try at Home

home remedies for ear infection

Tackling Ear Infection

Ear infections are generally irritating and painful and often impede our daily routine. Sometimes they can force us to abstain from our work schedule. Kids are mostly plagued by ear infections, but that doesn’t mean that adults are immune to this malady. Sometimes ear infection goes away on its own but sometimes it may need medical attention. However, as long as it stays it can make the life of the affected difficult and thus the quick resolve of ear infection is necessary.

Menace for Children

Of course, ear infections are abundant among the kids. In fact, 4 out of 5 children are expected to have at least one incident of ear infection by their third birthday. It is not only because of their immature immune systems, but also due to the fact that their little ears cannot drain as well as the ears of adults.

Also the fact that children have shorter eustachian tubes than adults is one of the main reasons behind children getting more middle ear infections than adults. The eustachian tube can be described as canal connecting the middle ear to your throat. This tube helps to prevent fluid and air pressure from building up inside the ear. Cold and allergies can swell this tube. In case of blockage of eustachian tube, fluid tend to build up inside the middle ear, which creates a facilitative environment for the bacteria to breed and spread infections.

Symptoms, Cause and Types

Ear infections can come with various symptoms which include inner ear pain, fever, fluid draining from the ear, sore throat, itchy ears, impaired hearing, difficulty in balancing, redness and inflammation of outer ear among others.  Nausea or vomiting, tinnitus or ringing in the ear are some of the other symptoms that ear infections can cause.

Viruses, bacteria or in rare cases even yeast can cause ear infections. Allergies, cold or even upper respiratory problems can cause ear infections.

Ear infections are broadly of three types –outer ear infections, middle ear infections and inner ear infections. 

Among them outer air infections (otitis externa) or swimmer’s ear usually take more time to heal though its pain generally subsides within a week. Bacterial infection of the skin tissue covering the ear canal is usually the cause of outer ear infections, which in turn is generally caused by prolonged immersion in water or getting the ear canal injured by insertion of things in it. Swimmer’s ear is generally caused by bacteria and are associated with symptoms, which include ear pain and drainage, itchy ears, and redness and inflammation of the outer ear.

Among the three types of ear infections, inner ear infections are comparatively rare, and are usually caused by virus. These infections are characterized as inflammation of the structures of the inner ear or labyrinthitis. Inner ear infections are generally associated with symptoms like ringing of the ears or dizziness or even vertigo. Usually inner ear infections need medical treatment though thankfully incidences of inner air infections among children are very rare.

Middle ear infections are generally caused due to common cold. They happen mostly in children and take place just behind the eardrum. Most middle ear infections are caused by viruses and they are mostly cured on their own. However, middle ear infections caused by bacteria may require antibiotic treatment.

Warm and Cold Compress

You can always visit a doctor to address ear infection but there are also several home remedies for ear infection, which have the potential to get you relief from this infection. Among the several earache remedies at home, warm or cold compress or both can be one of the easy and effective options to try.

It is simple; just have an ice pack or a heating pad and place it over the affected ear, which can help ease or relieve the pain. Ice pack can be prepared by wrapping ice in paper towels. However, don’t make the warm or cold pack too hot or too cold.  Heating pad should be warm, not hot. Also wrap the ice pack or heating pad in a towel to lower the effect. It is no fun getting burnt or getting a freezing feeling on top of the pain.

You can have either warm or cold compress or alternate between warm and cold compress every 10 minutes.  If you want to use only ice pack or warm compress then administer them for 20 minutes over the affected ear. You can also soak a washcloth in either cool or warm water, wring it, and then put it over the painful ear.

Ear Drops

Ear drops can reduce pressure in the ear caused by fluid and earwax but they are not effective for all types of ear infections. And it is important to consult a doctor before administering them, particularly to a child. Ear drops shouldn’t be given to people who have ruptured eardrums.

Moreover, if your ear drum has a tear or hole, you shouldn’t have these ear drops. So it is better to check with your doctor before using this home remedy for ear infection.

You can also put some 5-10 drops of hydrogen peroxide into the affected ear, wait for some minutes and then drain the solution back to the sink. Then rinse the affected ear clean with distilled water. This process does have the potential to reduce your earache from ear infection.

Oil as Remedy

Administering of warm olive oil can be used as another of the home remedies for ear infection if it is a middle ear infection. Blockage in the eustachian tubes due to wax in the ear being attacked by a fungal or bacterial growth has the potential to be cleared with the help of olive oil.

You can warm up some olive oil in low heat and then slowly put some drops of it  into the infected ear. When the oil comes in contact with the wax it will soften the wax. This will enable you to remove the wax with a cotton swab. But be careful of not extending the swab too far into the ear.

However, this folk remedy is not backed by scientific evidence. But there is no harm in putting a few warm (not hot) drops of olive oil in the ear provided there is no eardrum perforation. There is chance that yours or your kid’s ear pain through ear infection gets cured or alleviated by this remedy.

Before administering olive oil drops make sure that they are not warmer than your body temperature. This you can do by using a thermometer. And it is always better to discuss with an ENT specialist before using this home remedy. And it should also be kept in mind that administering warm olive oil has less likelihood of being helpful in case of swimmer’s ear.

Tea tree oil also can be used to address ear infection. Tea tree oil is endowed with antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties.

These properties make tea tree oil an effective herbal remedy in addressing ear infection. One can amalgamate a few drops of tea tree oil with a tablespoon of olive oil and slightly warm the mixture. Administer the mixture to the affected ear with a dropper. After about three minutes, drain the oil out. A couple of warm drops in the ear per day of this oily mixture has the potential to relieve you of your ear pain.

Garlic oil is endowed with antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties and thus administering garlic oil ear drops to the ear canal has the potential to decimate ear infection causing bacteria or virus. Garlic is also spruced with antibiotic and pain-relieving characteristics. You can soak crushed garlic in warm olive or sesame oil for several minutes and then strain the garlic out and slowly use drops of that oil into the ear canal of the affected ear. Chances are that you might get your long desired relief.

Flowers of mullein plant produce oil which has the potential to be effective in relieving pain from ear infection.

Ginger and Apple Cider Vinegar

Applying ginger juice around the outer ear canal without putting it in the ear can also be used as one of the home remedies for ear infection. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties can be helpful in this regard.

Apple cider vinegar can also facilitate to treat some ear infections as it contains acetic acid, which has antibacterial characteristics. You can amalgamate warm water and apple cider vinegar in equal parts, and then administer few drops of the mixture to the affected ear through a dropper bottle. You can also soak a cotton ball with the warm water-vinegar mixture and put it on the outside of the ear, and let the mixture flow in.

Watch Your Sleep

When you are suffering from ear infection you need to be careful of your sleep positions too. Some sleep positions can increase your pain from ear infection, while some can facilitate in alleviating it.

When you are having ear infection, sleep with the affected ear raised instead of having it faced down toward the pillow. This facilitates the ear to drain better. Or sleeping with your head elevated with the help of extra pillows does also have the potential to reduce your earache.

Neck Exercise

Neck exercises can also be natural ear infection remedy. Rotating the neck can facilitate to relieve pressure in the ear canal caused by ear infections. There is however a process to do the neck exercise to yield the desired result of getting relief from ear infection.

You need to sit or stand upright; now slowly rotate your neck and head to the right so that head becomes parallel to your right shoulder; keep it for five to ten seconds and repeat this exercise on the left side. Then slowly raise your shoulders high as if you are trying to reach your earlobes with them; keep the shoulders high for about 10 seconds. Continue to repeat this exercise several times a day.

Like in any disease, it is always better and wiser to prevent ear infections than to cure it. Having adequate Vitamin D in diet, supplementation and exposure to direct sunlight has the potential to reduce the risk of ear infections.

Chiropractic Adjustments

They have the potential to relieve tight muscles around the ear, which can enable draining of trapped fluid. A study deciphered that chiropractic care may decrease ear infection symptoms among young children.

Chiropractic treatment can find success in addressing middle ear infections; however, there is chance of increasing the risk of injury also. So do not use this natural ear infection remedy without supervision of an expert.

OTC Pain Relievers and Antibiotics

There are of course, over the counter pain relievers to tackle ear infections which include acetaminophen and ibuprofen among others. For people over 18 years who are affected by ear infection, aspirin can also be taken to ease pain. Aspirin should not be administered to people below 18 years as aspirin has association with Reye’s syndrome, a disease associated with lever and brain deterioration, which has potential to turn fatal. Also do have a word with your doctor before using OTC pain relievers.

However, if the ear infection is caused by bacteria then antibiotics may need to be administered. One needs to consult a doctor before going to treat ear infection at home through antibiotics.  However, you or your child suffering from bacteria induced ear infection need to finish the prescribed dose of antibiotics. If the prescribed antibiotics is discontinued before its prescribed dosage (which many people do after the pain subsides), then it can lead to antibiotic resistance among the remaining bacteria.

However, we have to lay emphasis to the fact that none of these above-mentioned home remedies for ear infection has guarantee to cure you of your ear infection but all of them does have the potential to cure or at least alleviate ear pain or ear infection. But some of them may be suitable for addressing one particular type of ear infections while some of them may be suitable for curing other types of ear infections.

When to Visit the Doc

If your ear pain doesn’t get cured with 2-3 days of application of home remedies do give a visit to the doctor for specialized medical treatment. Visiting your doctor is must when you notice fluid such as pus or blood coming out of ear or if you are having high fever and severe dizziness.

 If your ear infection is due to some object getting stuck in the ear, do visit doctor immediately. If you have severe ear pain which suddenly stops (not gradually) then also do visit doctor immediately. It may be a case of ruptured eardrum.

FAQs

How can I treat an ear infection myself?

Applying cold and/or hot compress orapplying ginger juice around the outer ear canal without putting it in the ear or having the above-mentioned sleeping posture are probably the safest routes to address ear infection at home without consulting the doctor.

How do you get rid of an earache fast?

Application of cold or hot compress or both, OTC pain relievers and neck exercises are fast ways to get relief from earache and many a time they yield the desired result.

What draws out an ear infection?

There are several home remedies to address ear infections, which are described above, though none of them can guarantee you cure. However, they can cure your ear infection or have the potential to cure or alleviate your ear infection. If home remedies do not work do visit a doctor to draw out the ear infection from the source.

Can you use hydrogen peroxide for an ear infection?

Hydrogen peroxide can help in making your ears clean and preventing additional bacteria from making room into your middle ears. Though hydrogen peroxide can facilitate to remove excess earwax or cerumen, but it should be used in moderation. Using too much of it can irritate the skin inside the ear and pave way to other problems.

How do you flush out your ear?

Through comprehensive ear irrigation you can remove excess earwax or other foreign substance from ear. Take the help of doctor to undergo ear irrigation. However, some home remedies like hydrogen peroxide, warm olive oil drops, mixture of warm tea tree oil and olive oil drops, garlic oil drops can also be helpful in flushing out ear.