There are multiple conditions that can harm our health, and one of the problems that causes discomfort are earaches. This annoying pain affects our work and school performance, as well as our moments of leisure and relaxation. However, luckily there are some home remedies that can help reduce it.
We at Bright Side want to share with you some remedies and tips that could relieve ear pain. Do not forget to consult a doctor before putting them into practice.
Why ear pain occurs
The most common cause of an earache is acute otitis media (AOM). This condition mainly affects children, and occurs when the Eustachian tube is blocked. The obstruction causes the accumulation of fluid in the ear cavity, resulting in inflammation and an infection of the middle ear. Other causes of this type of pain are excess earwax, dental problems, infection of the sinuses or throat, injury due to pressure changes, and teeth grinding.
Although, it can be debilitating and interfere with our daily lives, antibiotics are not always needed to treat the pain. Some of the sources of discomfort are not of a bacterial origin or due to infections, and there are some home remedies or actions you can use to try to reduce the discomfort.
1. Over-the-counter pain relievers
Some over-the-counter medications that can help control the pain associated with an ear infection are acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. It’s important to follow the instructions for the appropriate doses and consult with a doctor before giving it to children and babies, since they usually need smaller doses. Keep in mind that it’s not safe for minors to take aspirin.
2. Cold or warm compresses
Thermal pads or cold packs can be used to relieve pain. Place them on your ear for 10 minutes at a time, alternating between hot and cold. You can also use either just hot or just cold compresses, and not alternate temperatures. This method can be used in adults and children, being careful to not apply ice directly onto children’s ears. The heating pad heat should also not be turned on too high or left on overnight. Children should never use this method without adult supervision.
3. Olive oil
Even though there is no science to support this, a remedy recommended by popular opinion is olive oil. Its texture helps to reduce the pain caused by the accumulation of wax, since its direct application can soften and eliminate an excess of it. The American Academy of Pediatrics points out that placing a few warm drops of olive oil in the ear may have an anti-inflammatory effect that can reduce pain.
For pain caused by problems with the chewing muscles, try gently massaging the area by applying pressure and starting behind the ears, moving toward the neck with downward movements, and then toward the front. This type of massage can also help soothe pain caused by an ear infection and excess fluid, thereby preventing the discomfort from getting worse.
5. Homeopathic ear drops
These drops can be purchased at pharmacies or online. They are made with herbal extracts and are useful for reducing the pressure caused by earwax and liquids. It has been discovered that these types of drops are as effective as antibiotic treatments; however, it is recommended to consult a doctor before using them on infants.
Ginger could help reduce pain thanks to its active natural properties, as well as the fact that it’s antimicrobial and antifungal. Just apply warm ginger juice around the outer ear canal, without putting it directly in the ear.
For many years, garlic has been used as an aid to relieve pain and prevent infections, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. To soothe the pain and discomfort, soak crushed garlic in sesame oil for a few minutes. Then strain it and apply it to the ear canal.
Another widely used remedy is hydrogen peroxide, a popular antiseptic that is used to heal wounds and injuries. For earaches, it’s recommended to place 3 to 5 droplets in the affected ear, every 3 to 4 hours. It’s important to let it sit inside the ear canal for a few minutes before draining everything and rinsing with clean water.
9. Sleep without putting pressure on the ear
Pay attention to the positions you sleep in, as some may worsen the pain caused by an infection. Instead of lying down on the affected ear, try lying on the other side. Also, you can try sleeping with your head elevated, using extra pillows. These positions will promote ear drainage and reduce the pain.
Studies have found that the anti-inflammatory and antibiotic components of licorice root can relieve ear pain. Heat a tablespoon of licorice root and a tablespoon of clarified butter. Mix everything and wait 5 minutes until it cools. Place the mixture on the outside of the ear canal and let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse carefully.
Bonus: How to prevent earaches in children
It’s not always possible to prevent earaches in children, but some measures can be taken to help prevent them from getting an infection that causes this pain. Among them are:
- Having their vaccinations up to date.
- Having them wash their hands frequently, to prevent the transmission of germs.
- Not exposing minors to tobacco smoke or any other source of smoke.
- Not putting babies to sleep with a bottle.
- Avoiding contact with sick people or children.
Even though these measures can help you avoid an ear infection, remember that they cannot replace seeing a doctor. Consult a doctor before applying any of these remedies, since the ear canal is very sensitive, and introducing any substance into it can cause allergies or worsen a condition.
Did you know about these natural remedies? Have you used any of them? Share your experience with us in the comment section.
Illustrated by Oleg Guta for Bright Side