Earaches can make someone weak and infirmed, but they don’t always require antibiotics. Guidelines and treatment methods for an ear infection have changed over the last five years. As a parent, you might discover that your child suffering from an ear infection might not even be prescribed antibiotics. It is not every ear infection that requires prescription medication or is bacterial. Actually, you could find the solution you need in your home. These solutions might prove to be the best home remedies for an ear infection.
Table of Contents
You will learn the following from this post:
- Meaning of ear infections
- Causes of an ear infection
- Signs and symptoms of an ear infection
- Treating ear infection at home
- Best home remedies for an ear infection
What is an Ear Infection?
If you’ve ever been a victim of an ear infection, then you understand how painful and uncomfortable the infection can be. Earaches can cause agony for both adults and children alike, but you can easily treat them if you understand what you need to do.
Kids suffer more ear infections than adults do, and they will battle at least an ear infection before they become three years old. One of the primary reasons children have more middle ear infections than adults is because they possess shorter Eustachian tubes.
Infections can result from the presence of bacteria, viruses, or – in rare cases – yeast. The ear has three areas where infections can occur in both adults and children.
- Outer ear infections: This is also referred to as swimmer’s ear or Otitis externa. This infection is often a result of bacterial infection of the skin tissue covering the ear canal. Immersing the ear in water too frequently or damaging the ear by inserting harmful stuff in it (such as poking the ear canal with cotton swabs to remove ear wax) can put you at risk of developing an outer ear infection.
- Middle ear infections: Another name for this is Otitis media. The middle ear infection is an infection that occurs just behind the eardrum (known as tympanic membrane) with liquid pus trapped in the adjacent hollow cavity of the facial bone. Middle ear infections are sometimes a result of a complication of the common cold in kids, but most middle ear infections are caused by viruses and will heal spontaneously. Bacterial infections that cause middle ear infections can be cured with antibiotics.
- Inner ear infections: Infections of the inner ear rarely occur, and they are often a result of the presence of a virus. Structural inflammation of the inner ear (labyrinthitis) is often the infection that occurs in this case. Because these structures affect balance and hearing, inner ear infections result in symptoms like balance disruption (vertigo), dizziness, and ringing of the ears (tinnitus). Inner ear infections in adults and children are rare, and they need medical treatment when they occur.
Which Part of the Ear Can Become Infected?
The inner ear has three separate elements that functionally and anatomically work together for proper hearing and interpretation of sounds, including providing a sense of body balance and position during head and body movements.
- The outer ear includes the cartilaginous structure (known as the pinna) and ear canal ending at the eardrum (tympanic membrane)
- The middle ear is the product of the eardrum and a small hollow part of the facial bone adjacent to the eardrum where three small bones are linked together. The eardrum moves because of air pressure waves focused by the pinna and moving down the ear canal. Movement of the tympanic membrane results in a domino-like movement of these three little bones that ultimately sends this stimulus to the inner ear.
- The inner ear consists of two structures:
The cochlea changes movements of the ear bones into nerve impulses that travel to the brain, which are then translated into sounds.
The semicircular canals (part of a separate structure) contain three parts that interpret head motion, allowing recognition of your position in space (for instance, bending over, lying down, etc.)
Causes of an Ear Infection
There are many possible causes for an ear infection. Possible common causes include the following:
- Teeth grinding
- Sinus infections
The most common ear infections are acute otitis media, or the middle ear infection, which is characterized by infected or swollen portions of the middle ear. The pain that comes with acute otitis media is due to fluid getting trapped behind the eardrum, and the following are the common indications of the infection:
- Feeling sick in general
- Slight hearing loss
- Pain within the ear
Children and babies may become cranky, restless, and pull at their ears.
Signs and Symptoms of an Ear Infection
The common signs and symptoms of outer and middle ear infections include the following:
- Pus draining from the ear
- Inflammation and redness
- Hearing problems
- Mild to severe ear pain
Other signs and symptoms of the swimmer’s (outer) ear include:
The signs and symptoms of middle and inner ear infections include:
- Feeling of fullness in the ear
- Problems with balance
Other signs and symptoms of the inner ear include:
- Labyrinthitis (infection and inflammation of the inner ear)
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Vomiting and nausea
Treating Ear Infections at Home
With over-the-counter medication and home remedies, you can easily treat some outer and middle ear infections. The medications are for such symptoms as inflammation and pain.
The recurrent and prolonged immersion of the ear in water is usually the leading cause of outer ear infection. Therefore, the most effective treatment for this is to avoid getting water into the ear canal until the pain has completely subsided. Infection of the outer ear can take several days to heal, but the pain is usually gone within one week.
Moreover, the warmer the water becomes, the higher the chance of getting the swimmer’s ear. For instance, those who swim in the summer are more likely to suffer an outer ear infection than those in the wintertime.
In the case of the middle ear infection, various studies have revealed that viruses are the cause of middle ear infections. Managing the ear pain for two or three days will give the body’s natural immune system the chance to fight off the infection. However, some people suffering from middle ear infections may need to see a healthcare professional for medical treatment.
The inner ear symptoms may be related to non-infectious causes, but inner ear infections are usually rare in both adults and children.
Best Home Remedies for an Ear Infection
The following are the most common natural remedies for the ear infection, and they can give you relief from pain.
1. Over-the-counter Pain Reliever
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to reduce pain associated with a kind of painful ear infection known as acute otitis media. These medications can be safely used with or without antibiotics, but ensure that you follow the dosing instructions on the label. These medications are also effective in reducing fever. Discuss about the appropriate dose for children with your doctor. Many OTC pain relievers have both children and infant versions. However, it is not appropriate to administer aspirin to children under 16 years old.
2. Cold or Warm Compress
To reduce pain, people often opt for either ice packs or warm compresses, such as a damp washcloth or heating pad. The same can be applied to ear infections, and both children and adults can use the method. For an effective result, place the warm compress or ice pack over the ear and switch between warm and cold after ten minutes. If you prefer either warm or cold, you can use just a single compress instead. The choice between warm and cold compress depends on the sensitivity or adaptability of your skin.
3. Olive Oil
People have been using olive oil for ear infections for a long time. Although no scientific evidence suggests that olive oil is an effective natural remedy for ear infection, or that a drop of the oil into the ear canal can relieve ear pain. However, applying a few warmed drops of olive oil in the ear is safe and may alleviate the discomfort and pain that come with ear infections.
Still, there is nothing wrong with discussing this method with your doctor before doing it, especially in the case of children’s ear infections. Ensure that the temperature of the olive oil is not warmer than the temperature of your body. You can find this out with the use of a thermometer. This will help you prevent burning your eardrum from too hot oil.
4. Naturopathic Drops
Eardrops that are naturopathic are produced from herbal extracts, and you can find them in either some drug stores or online. A certain study discovered that drops with herbal extracts in a base of olive oil could be pretty as effective as traditional OTC ear drops. In fact, some people have claimed that naturopathic ear drops are even much more effective than OTC medications.
5. Neck Exercise
Some earaches are a result of pressure in the ear canal. Specific ear exercises can put some relief on this pressure. Neck rotation exercises can be particularly beneficial. Consider the following steps if you aim to perform neck rotation exercises:
- Sit straight and allow both feet to lay flat on the floor.
- Slowly rotate your neck to the right, where your head is on the same parallel plane with your shoulder.
- Then rotate your neck the other way until your head is also on the same parallel plane with your left shoulder.
- Raise your shoulder high, as if you’re trying to use your shoulders to cover your ears.
- Let the movements be slow, hold them gently, stretch more for a count of five, relax after that.
- Often repeat this throughout waking hours.
If it’s your child that’s suffering from earache or ear infections, try to make them comfortable by taking their mind off the pain. You can achieve that by:
- putting on their favorite movie
- coming home with a new coloring book
- having a bubble bath with many toys
- allow them to play a game on your tablet or phone
- picking up their favorite snack
- finding other things for them to channel their attention on
If your child has reached the teething age, offer them cooled teething toys for chewing.
The distraction method also works for adults suffering from ear infections. Read an excellent book or watch a favorite movie to take your mind away from the pain.
7. Ginger and Garlic
Ginger contains natural anti-inflammatory properties that can go a long way in soothing pain from ear infections. To cure pains in the ear, apply ginger juice or use strained oil warmed with ginger around the outer ear canal. Do not put this ginger juice or ginger oil directly into your child’s ear – or your ear, for that matter.
Garlic contains both pain-relieving and antibiotic properties. To reduce the pain from ear infections, soak crushed garlic in warm sesame or olive oil. Then, carefully strain out the garlic and put the oil into the ear canal.
8. Sleep without Putting Pressure on the Ear
Some sleep positions can worsen the pain from ear infections, while some can help reduce the pain. For example, sleeping with the affected part of the ear raised is better than having it faced down on the pillow. This sleep pattern can help the ear drain better if necessary. You can also sleep by elevating your head with an extra pillow, which can also help the ear drain faster.
Sometimes over-the-counter medications or self-care may not be the best home remedies for an ear infection. In this case, visiting a doctor is the best option. Also, if you discover that your earache is severe and you are experiencing symptoms like hearing loss or fever, then you should also see a doctor. In that case, you might have to visit a throat, nose, and ear doctor.
Leaving your ear infection untreated is a very bad idea, as it can cause permanent problems with hearing and balance loss or even cause the infection to spread to other parts of the body.
The information contained in this post "8 Best Home Remedies for an Ear Infection" is for educational purposes only. Always consult your primary care doctor before using the remedies that are provided. The information is provided by The Hidden Cures and while we do timely, in-depth research on the information that we provide to you, everything stated may not be up to date or accurate from the time it was written.