Earache is a common ailment characterized by a sharp, burning or throbbing pain in the ear. Some of the common causes of earache include allergies, infections, sore throat, cold and sinus problems. Certain easily available home remedies can be used to get instant relief from a mild earache.
What to do to cure an earache
Natural remedies for earache relief
- Garlic: The analgesic, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties of garlic make it a good pain reliever, whereas its Vitamin A content is useful in repairing damaged tissues and strengthening auditory nerves. Garlic juice or a poultice made of crushed garlic cloves can be applied to the ear for about half an hour. A warm mixture of garlic and mullein oil is a good remedy for children.
- Ginger: An excellent pain killer, ginger acts as a strong anti-inflammatory, helping to ease earache. Pouring warm ginger juice in the form of ear drops or mixing ginger pieces with sesame oil will be very effective in this regard.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Applying a mixture of apple cider vinegar and rubbing alcohol to the ear and leaving it for five minutes is beneficial for fungal ear infection as well as earache.
- Olive oil: Putting three to four drops of warm olive oil into the ear canal with cotton balls helps in breaking down the accumulated wax, clearing clogged ears. Olive oil also known as sweet oil serves as a safe remedy for kids and pregnant women.
- Basil: The rich content of Vitamin C, eugenol, borneol and beta-carotene in this herb, along with its anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties, make it useful in treating minor earaches. External application of basil leaf juice twice a day helps in reducing pain.
- Essential oils: Certain essential oils that help to soothe an earache are lavender, rosemary, tea tree, thyme, melrose, peppermint, eucalyptus etc. Massaging 2 to 3 drops of these oils with a cotton ball in a clockwise, and anti-clockwise direction helps in lessening inflammation.
- Onion: Applying a poultice of crushed onion for 5 to 10 minutes will be effective in curing mild earache. You may also put two to three drops of onion juice into the ear with a dropper to relieve pain.
- Peppermint: Peppermint oil or juice made from crushed or ground peppermint leaves acts as a natural earache remedy. Mixing peppermint oil with olive oil helps in diluting it, yet increasing its effectiveness.
- Licorice: A paste of warm licorice and clarified butter can be externally applied to get relief from chronic ear pain.
- Coconut oil: Another effective way of getting rid of your earache fast is by gently rubbing 1 to 2 drops of coconut oil around the affected ear.
- Herbal steam inhalation: Inhaling a decoction of hot water and certain fresh or dried herbs like chamomile, lemon balm, and elderberry is effective in treating earache caused due to sore throat, sinus problems and swelling caused by cold.
How to get rid of an earache with home remedies
- Salt treatment: Using a salt compress serves as a good and readily available remedy to stop an earache. Put some salt in a sock or thick cloth, heat it for a while, and then compress it gently on the affected ear for 10 minutes.
- Hot water remedy: Compressing a warm towel around the affected ear helps in getting instant relief. You may also wrap a hot water bottle with a towel and place it on top of your pillow, resting your ear on it. Another way is to rest the affected ear on a warm heating pad.
- Using a hair dryer: After a shower you may use a dryer to dry your ears. Remember to set it to moderate. Keep it at a safe distance from the ear, not using for more than five minutes.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Applying two three drops of hydrogen peroxide in the ear helps in removing the wax while killing bacteria. After putting the solution to your ear, you may feel an itchy sensation with bubbles being formed. After the bubbling stops, tilt your head a little to allow the liquid to drain. Clean your ears with apple cider vinegar and rubbing alcohol for a better result. Though useful for adults as well as children, it is not to be applied in case of severe pain or sensitive skin.
Apart from these quick and effective home remedies, certain common activities like swallowing and yawning provides temporary relief as they help in opening the Eustachian tube, also facilitating air flow in and out of the middle ear. Chewing a gum while traveling by plane helps in providing relief from blocked ear that occurs during landing or take off. Xylitol, a natural sweetener contained in chewing gums and lozenges helps in curing middle ear infection in children up to 12 years of age.
Over the counter medicines
Certain over the counter anti-inflammatory medications used for earache in adults as well as children include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen. Though they do not help in killing the bacteria which cause infection, they are useful in reducing pain. Topical anesthetic ear drops can be applied if the ear is not infected. Babies above six months of age can be given over the counter medications though it is safe to consult a doctor before doing so.
A wide range of homeopathic medicines like aconite, belladonna, and chamomilla, are effective for curing earache and other infections pertaining to the ear. These are also a good option for toddlers while teething.
How to prevent an earache
- Covering your ears with a scarf or plugging cotton balls during cold winters
- Avoiding active and passive smoking as well as alcohol consumption
- Wearing tight ear caps to prevent water from entering the ear while swimming.
- Applying a drop of mineral oil before swimming or a mixture of vinegar and rubbing alcohol after swimming to kill bacteria
- Drinking plenty of water to fight infections and keep your system flushed
- Following a diet including fresh vegetables and fruits rich in Vitamin A and C as well as zinc
- Cutting down on junk food and dairy products
- Breastfeeding babies for at least six months to make them less prone to ear infections because of the presence of antibodies in breast milk
- Giving children above 2 years one to two spoons of elderberry syrup
Applying these home remedies in case of an infected ear is not always advisable. If your earache persists even after trying these treatments or is a result of any serious medical condition, it is best to consult a doctor.