Earache is very common and every one of us has spent hours in pain and agony at some time. Earache in babies is frequent during their growing days but earache in adults is not uncommon or unheard of. Surprisingly, the majority of the people suffer from earache at night, the time when doctors are not easily available. So, either one bears the pain till medical help is available or depend on home remedies for earache.
Though the home remedies for earache are not as effective as the medicines prescribed by the doctor and may not have enough scientific research backing them. But the tried and tested earache remedies do give temporary relief. We have compiled a list of home remedies for earache, most of the home remedies involve the use of ingredients commonly found at home.
What Are The Common Causes Of Earache?
The common earache causes are:
- Ear Infection (Bacterial or Fungal)
- Earwax build-up
- Common cold
- Respiratory tract infection
- Eustachian Tube inflammation
- Throat and ear pain due to infection
- Tooth infection
- Sinus infection
- Extreme cold weather
- An object stuck in the ear, a bead or something similar, in the case of children.
- Fluid accumulation or water trapped in the ear.
Serious ailments like a ruptured eardrum, arthritis of the jaws, or Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) are not covered. As these ailments require emergency medical care.
Can Home Remedies Help Your Ear Pain?
Home remedies for earache reduce the pain and discomfort and are the immediate solution if doctors are not available. Or in selected cases, where antibiotics are not recommended.
Do Ear Infections Go Away On Their Own?
In the majority of the cases, medicines are not required as the earache goes away by itself. Our body’s immune system takes care of minor infections.
In the case of babies, it is difficult to diagnose the reason for their discomfort. If they are tugging at their ears or refuse feed, chances are that it is a case of ear infection and the earache is bothering them. Read about the signs of ear infection in babies.
Do watch this video on recommended home remedies for earache.
Recommended Home Remedies For Earache
The following earache treatments are highly recommended:
1. Cold Or Warm Compress
This is the easiest method and the most preferred. For some people, a warm compress gives more relief than a cold compress. Soak a cloth in warm water or use a heating pad if available. Also, try out an ice pack or a piece of cloth soaked in cold water. Continue with the type of compress which gives more relief.
2. Gargling With Salt Water
Salt is a known antimicrobial and very effective against throat and ear pain due to infection. Mix salt in warm water and gargle 2-3 times a day. It will reduce the severity of earache and sore throat.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
At times the accumulated earwax solidifies and becomes hard causing earache. It is not easy to remove hardened earwax, it has to be softened before dislodging it. Hydrogen peroxide is an earwax softener but is generally used in diluted form for safety. The concentration of hydrogen peroxide should not be more than 5-6%. Read about the tips for cleaning earwax at home.
4. Can You Use Olive Oil For Earache?
According to studies conducted, Virgin olive has bactericidal1 or bacteria destroying properties against some types of bacteria. Though the effect is moderate, it can give temporary relief from earache.
5. Use Of Olive Oil For Removing Wax Build-Up
If the earache is due to wax accumulation in the ear, warm olive oil can soften and dislodge the stuck earwax.
6. Rubbing Warm Oil
Warm up the oil to slightly more than the body temperature level and apply the warm oil around the ear, this method is also known to give relief from earache.
How Does Garlic Help Ear Pain?
Garlic has many properties and is everyone’s grandmother’s favourite cure. Studies have corroborated that garlic does have anti-microbial2 properties and is an effective remedy for earache. Pour a few drops of garlic oil in the ear for relief.
Note: All oils can only give relief if the infection is in the outer ear or Otitis externa. Swimmers suffer from this as the ear canal remains wet and is prone to fungal infection. Read our article on fungal ear infection for more information.
7. Onion Juice As A Home Remedy For Earache
Onions have antibacterial3 properties. Put 2-3 drops of warm onion juice in the ear, onion juice is an antiseptic and gives relief.
The following natural herbs and plants are also a good remedy for earache.
8. Garlic Oil
A very effective home remedy for earache. Garlic has anti-fungal, anti-microbial and, anti-viral properties.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also an effective cure as it contains acetic acid which is antibacterial.
10. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and, antiseptic properties which can give relief from earache.
11. Eucalyptus Oil
It is one of the oldest remedies for respiratory problems, gives relief from earache due to respiratory infection. It is commonly used for respiratory congestion and can clear congestion within minutes.
Mix a few drops in hot water and then inhale the steam. The main component is eucalyptol which has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties.
12. Basil Leaf Extract
Basil leaves have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties and are quite effective in treating ear pain. Crush a few basil leaves and pour 2-3 drops in the ear once or twice a day.
Caution: Avoid the use of ear drops in case of eardrum perforation.
13. Neck Exercises, Massaging, Or Chiropractic Care
Getting a massage from a professional chiropractor can give relief. A proper massage or treatment can relax the muscles around the neck and shoulder region reducing physical stress and ear pain.
How Long Can You Leave An Ear Infection Untreated? Or When To See A Doctor About An Earache
You should see a doctor or an audiologist under the following circumstances:
- If there is no gradual reduction in pain within 24 hours of using one of the above home remedies for earache.
- There is a discharge from the ears. Pus indicates severe infection which requires antibiotic treatment.
- If you notice swelling behind the ears.
- If it is a case of ear pain with fever, headache, and dizzy spells.
- You have an earache are unable to hear properly.
Do not delay and visit your doctor or audiologist for a detailed examination. All cases of earache are not due to ear infections, earache could be a side effect of other ailments like throat infection or tooth infection. This is known as referred pain.
How Do You Get Rid Of An Earache Fast?
The following tips can help in giving immediate relief:
- Use pain killers like Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen or Aspirin. (It is not advisable to give children aspirin and similar medicines without consulting a doctor)
- If the earache is due to pressure changes, neck exercises and chewing gum gives immediate relief.
- Using a hairdryer can give relief from ear pain. The hairdryer setting should be at the lowest heat setting, do not use it continuously.
- Changing the sleeping position or sitting position can bring some relief. Use a small soft cushion to support the neck. Avoid sleeping on the side, it increases the pressure on the ear.
How To Prevent Earache In Children
Children are more prone to ear infections and earaches. It is better to take precautions and reduce the chances of children getting earaches.
- Since earache is mostly due to bacterial infections, develop hygienic habits in children. They should wash their hands after they finish playing with their toys or outdoor games with their friends.
- Make sure that your child has received the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). Pneumococcal bacteria are the most common cause of an ear infection.
- Develop immunity in children, give them supplements on doctors advise if they fall sick often.
- Elders should avoid smoking near their children, smoke irritates and can give rise to respiratory issues.
- Keep the children’s ears clean, dry their ears after a bath to prevent fungal infection.
- Protect the child from dust, pollen, and other triggers if they are allergic.
- Cover their ears with a muffler or earmuffs during winter.
As far as possible, let the body’s immune system work in overpowering the minor aches and pains. Natural home remedies for earache do not interfere with the immune response of the body.
Avoid using antibiotics for minor ailments, do not give OTC pain killers to children without consulting a pediatrician. The bacteria in the body develop resistance to antibiotics if consumed frequently.