Ear infections can be annoying and in severe cases debilitating. There are several things that can cause ear infections including bacteria, viruses, and certain forms of exercise. Fortunately, not all ear infections require medical attention to be treated. Many minor ear infections can be treated using natural remedies and extra care.
We’ve put together a list of the most common earache home remedies and natural ways to treat ear infections. Read on to find out how you can reduce pain in your ears the natural way.
What Is An Earache?
Earaches are caused by pain and discomfort in the ear. The most common causes of earache include a change in air pressure, excessive noise, swimmer’s ear, and bacterial or viral infections. Earaches can be caused by damage or irritation to the ear canal, inner ear, middle ear, and even outer ear. Earaches are often accompanied by other symptoms including sore throat, high fever, excess earwax, and sinus infections.
Infections and air pressure can cause severe damage to the ears and may result in hearing loss. For severe ear pain, it’s always a good idea to seek medical care from a qualified doctor. Common treatments of ear pain include ear drops and over-the-counter medications. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests pain relievers such as acetaminophen to treat pain caused by acute otitis media (1). For minor earaches though, you can treat the symptoms at home using natural remedies.
The 9 Best Earache Home Remedies
1. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide may help to clear out the ear and eliminate bacteria or substances that are causing pain. Use a dropper to add 5 drops of hydrogen peroxide to the affected ear. Lay on your opposite side and let the hydrogen sit for a few minutes. Drain the ear and rinse with distilled water.
2. Warm Compress
A warm compress can help decrease inflammation thus reducing pain. The warmth helps to soothe while increasing blood flow and circulated to the affected ear area. Get a damp towel and heat it for 15 seconds in the microwave. Test the temperature by applying the towel to the inside of your forearm. Then lay down on your side opposite of the ear pain. Apply the warm compress to the affected area and rest for five minutes. Reheat the compress as needed.
3. Cold Compress
A cold compress or an ice pack can also offer pain relief from an earache. Douse a towel in cold water or wrap an ice pack in a light cloth and place directly against the ear. You can stick with cold compresses or alternate between cold and hot compresses depending on what feels best for you.
4. Olive Oil
Warm olive oil has long been an ear pain reliever in herbal medicine. Scientific evidence has not yet proved the efficacy of this method. One study showed that patients who were treated with olive oil alone had better improvement than those that received amoxicillin and ear drops. The results, however, showed that most of the ear pain improvement could be attributed to healing time (2).
Using olive oil may help to lubricate the ear and eliminate ear wax that could be causing excess pressure on the eardrum. Be careful not to make the olive oil higher than body temperature to avoid burning the ear. Talk to a licensed healthcare practitioner before using olive oil drops in young children.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar or ACV may help to alleviate pain caused by ear infections thanks to antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Create homeopathic ear drops by combining equal parts apple cider vinegar and warm water. Apply 5 to 10 drops to the affected ear and let sit for a few minutes. Drain the ear and rinse with distilled water.
6. Neck Exercises
Moving your neck around may help to decrease pressure if your ear pain is caused by air pressure. This can occur when you change altitude quickly or visit a high altitude area. Popping your ears gently is another way to relieve pressure on the Eustachian tube in your ear.
Start by sitting up as straight as possible and roll your head over to your right shoulder. Next, roll your head back over to your left shoulder making sure it’s parallel to the ground. You can also roll your head backward and forward to help open up the ear canal. Repeat as needed throughout the day.
7. Reduce Pressure During Sleep
It may seem like a good idea to sleep on the side with the ear pain in order to increase drainage, but the opposite is actually true. Sleeping on the ear that is painful can increase pressure and make pain worse. Instead, sleep on the side that doesn’t have ear pain, this will allow the ear to drain more efficiently without increasing pressure. You can also use a few pillows to prop your head up above your heart to reduce throbbing pain.
8. Breast Milk
Breast milk may be used to treat outer ear infections, but not inner or middle ear infections. This is because the milk cannot reach the inner or middle ear effectively because these infections occur behind the eardrum. For outer ear infections such as swimmer’s ear, breast milk can help soothe inflammation in babies. Apply it as ear drops or a warm compress to help soothe and decrease pain. Breastfeeding your baby also gives them antibodies that help them fight off or prevent ear infections (2).
9. Essential Oils
Essential oils made from herbs can be used as ear drops in ear infection treatments. Many essential oils boast antibacterial properties that help to fight off bacteria that cause you to get sick. It’s a good idea to talk with a qualified holistic health professional before using essential oils for earache relief. If you receive the go-ahead, mix essential oils with a carrier oil such as olive oil. Apply directly to a cotton ball and stick the cotton gently into your ear. Let it sit for a few minutes before removing. Never use a Q-tip as you can puncture the eardrum and cause serious side effects.
Precautions For Earache Treatment At Home
Home treatment of ear infections can be difficult and result in dangerous side effects when not done properly. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional before attempting any at-home treatments.
Seek medical advice immediately if you experience bleeding from the ears as this can be a sign of more serious ear problems. Seek medical attention immediately if you suffer from debilitating ear pain as this can be indicative of a ruptured eardrum.
Alleviate Pain The Natural Way
When it comes to earache remedies, time is the best medicine. You can support your recovery and reduce the pain factor by using ear drops or warm/cold compresses to decrease inflammation. Existing research shows that natural remedies can help treat the pain associated with earaches, but won’t cure an earache if it’s caused by an infection. Use these remedies to help relieve pain and support your body’s recovery. Most earaches clear up in 3 to 5 days so be patient and try these home remedies to make the process more bearable.