How to Treat Ear Infections
Everyone has suffered from an ear infection at one time or another during their life. There are a number of causes of this common ailment, such as water entering the ear during bathing and swimming, foreign particles or insects entering the ear canal, an infection of a tooth that spreads to the ear, etc. In the following article, we’ll provide advice on how to treat these painful ear infections at home.
What you need to know about problems and infections of the ears
Ear infections are more serious if they are internal and less serious if they are external. However, without proper treatment, an ear infection can lead to loss of hearing (partial or total), dizziness, and trouble with activities involving hearing and balance.
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- Otitis externa or outer ear infection is characterized by discharge, pain, redness, and temporary hearing loss; it is generally caused by bacteria and to a lesser extent, by fungi and viruses.
- Otitis Media or middle ear infection is common among children and its symptoms include fever, pain, irritability, partial hearing loss, and loss of appetite. It happens when the space in the middle ear becomes clogged with fluid and mucus. Also, some people are more susceptible to this type of ear infection and the condition can become chronic.
- Otitis interna or inner ear infection can produce symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting and, loss of balance. It happens when the innermost part of the ear becomes inflamed. Although it is not very common, the symptoms can be very intense.
Popular remedies for ear infections
- Fill a hot water bottle (the insulated kind from the drug store) with hot water and cover with a towel or cloth and hold over the affected ear. The heat acts as a pain reliever. Also, it increases blood flow to the area to help combat the infection.
- Wash and finely chop three large apricots. Heat in a saucepan, and when warm, apply as a poultice to the affected ear.
- Mash a handful of basil leaves with a handful of plantain leaves. Next, heat until thoroughly warmed and place as a poultice on the affected ear.
- Warm half a tablespoon of olive oil and soak with a cotton ball. Place the cotton ball in the entrance of the ear and let sit for one hour.
- Slice and crush one onion. Place in a cloth and heat in the microwave. Finally, apply as a compress to the affected ear.
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- Warm a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil with a clove of crushed garlic. When warmed, soak a cotton ball in the oil and place into the entrance of the affected ear.
- Heat two handfuls of rice and place in a cloth bag or towel. Place on a pillow and lay with the affected ear on the pillow.
- In a clean, dry, glass bottle, add seven drops of olive oil and the contents of one vitamin E capsule. Then, add two cloves of crushed garlic and mix well. Close the bottle and heat in a water bath for one minute. After the liquid is fully warmed, filter it and place a few drops in the ear. Nevertheless, it is not recommended for cases involving perforated eardrum or pus coming from the ear.
- Add two tablespoons of rue to one cup boiling water. Cover and let cool. Soak a cotton ball in the liquid and place in the ear.
More natural remedies for ear infections
- Squeeze a lemon and soak a cotton ball in the juice. Gently place in the ear for 10 minutes at bedtime. This remedy is good for pain caused by wax buildup.
- Crush ten chamomile flowers into four tablespoons of olive oil and let sit for two days. Apply with a cotton ball. Try this if you’ve experienced pain caused by excessive wax production.
- Warm two tablespoon of almond oil. Let cool to room temperature and apply two drops in the ear canal and cover with a cotton ball.
- Boil a handful of oregano leaves and half a cup of water for three minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain and pour into a dropper. Apply three drops in the affected ear (as long as the eardrum is not perforated).
- Microwave a potato on low until hot. Wrap in a towel or cloth and hold over your ear.
- Add a handful of salt to 1/2 cup boiling water. Soak a cloth in the hot water and apply to ear.
- Grate a radish and heat. Wrap in a thin cloth and hold over your ear until cool.
- Place three or four drops of aloe vera into the ear canal and tilt your head to the opposite side for several minutes. This remedy is not to be used if the eardrum is perforated.
- Crush a handful of chard leaves and extract the juice. Use a dropper to place about three or four drops into the ear.
How to avoid ear pain and infections
- Never use cotton swabs to clean the ear (try a damp cloth or ask at your doctor’s office).
- Get throat infections treated.
- Boost your immune system.
- Try avoiding sharing headphones.
- Avoid swimming in ponds, lakes, and rivers.
- Don’t go swimming in heavily chlorinated pools.
- Never introduce foreign objects into the ears.
- Sleep on your side to aid drainage.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Lee, H., Kim, J., & Nguyen, V. (2013). Ear infections: Otitis externa and otitis media. Primary Care – Clinics in Office Practice. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pop.2013.05.005
- Harmes, K. M., Blackwood, R. A., Burrows, H. L., Cooke, J. M., Van Harrison, R., & Passamani, P. P. (2013). Otitis media: Diagnosis and treatment. American Family Physician. https://doi.org/10.1288/00005537-189912000-00020
- Sagall, R. J. (1990). Ear infections. Day Care & Early Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01620173