Ear pain has many causes, including infection, trauma, a foreign body, and chronic inflammation. It can affect hearing, making showering, sleeping, and general day-to-day tasks more difficult. Bacterial infections should be treated with antibiotics but often, viral or inflammatory causes are not treated, as most are self-limiting. As such, some people turn to home remedies for ear pain to alleviate symptoms until the issue resolves. It is ideal to speak to a doctor before trying any natural options, however.
Consistent exposure to dry air can wreak havoc on all the airways, ears included. A lack of moisture can cause redness, irritation, and in extreme cases, bleeding. Running a humidifier in your home or sitting near one while you work can return moisture to the ear canal. Sitting near a pot of boiling water or in a steamy bathroom can also help.
Naturopathic drops usually consist of an olive oil base with various medicinal plants. Many people find these drops, often infused with garlic, mullein, calendula, or St. John's Wort, perform equally as well or better than traditional eardrops.
Make your own eardrops by mincing garlic and heating it in sesame oil. Let it cool and strain the mixture. Garlic has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making it ideal for treating ear pain with questionable origins. For extra potency, add a small amount of eucalyptus oil, which fends off viral infections and soothes pain.
Most often used in the treatment of respiratory infections, the flower of the mullein plant can also ease ear pain and infection. To infuse sesame or olive oil with the mullein flowers is a long process to be done only in cold temperatures, so it is best to make this mixture ahead of time. Adding garlic to the cold infusion can improve the anti-inflammatory properties. Make sure to strain well before use, to keep foreign objects from the ear tubes.
Heat and ice are particularly useful for ear pain caused by trauma, injury or referred pain from the neck or jaw. A cold compress will ease pain by reducing blood flow and decreasing inflammation. Conversely, a warm compress will improve blood flow and stimulate healing and muscle relaxation. The choice between warm or cold comes down to the cause of the pain, and some people find it beneficial to switch between the two.
Traditionally, people placed an onion powder paste to the skin outside and around the ear to soak into the pores and ease infection. Some people prefer to warm onion juice and apply a few drops into the ear canal for a similar result. Onions inhibit the growth of bacteria and help purify the environment. Always speak to a doctor before putting anything in your or a child's ear.
Chiropractors most often treat neuromuscular pain through skeletal adjustment, realigning bones to relieve pressure on surrounding nerves. Ear pain caused by referred pain from the neck or pressure on the ear tubes can benefit from chiropractic care. About 90 percent of people with ear pain from these issues report improvements after a chiropractic adjustment and, 40 percent report reduced pain in just one or two sessions.
Virgin olive oil can, on its own, offer relief from ear pain. Gentle and potent, olive oil will lubricate the ear tubes, reducing irritation and helping fend off bacterial infection. A few drops of warm oil may be all you need to relieve pain and discomfort.
Ginger has proven anti-inflammatory properties that can ease ear pain caused by various factors. Swelling and pain should decrease after applying a tonic of ginger juice or grated ginger root soaked in olive oil.
Infusing steam with herbal essential oils is a simple and easy process. Add one of the natural remedies listed previously to a pot of water and heat to boiling. Allow it to cool for a few minutes, then pour it into a bowl and place the ear close to the water with a towel over the head. This safe herbal remedy has plenty of other benefits as well, such as relieving congestion and improving skin health.
Massage therapy can help treat many issues, including ear pressure and pain. People with earaches can perform a lymphatic drainage massage to minimize pressure. Lie down on your side and place your fingers behind your jaw bone, below the ear. Slide the fingers up and down the neck while applying pressure. Neck rotation exercises and extensions may also reduce ear pressure by loosening the jaw and increasing the strength of neck muscles and range of motion.
Many people with irritating ear pain find relief from sucking on hard candy or chewing gum. A common choice for airplane travelers, sucking motions can be used at any time to get stagnant muscles working and get air flowing through the inner ears to cause that popping sensation. Frequent yawning and swallowing may also open blocked Eustachian tubes, relieving earache.
Some research shows that babies who are breastfed are at lower risk of developing ear infections, thanks to antibodies in breast milk that naturally minimize the risk of infection. The soothing warmth of breast milk, especially a few drops in the ears, can soothe pain from inflamed ears as the infection runs its course. Both babies and adults can benefit from this method, though it is best to talk to a doctor before putting anything in the ears.
Ear pain is often more severe at night, as lying down means there is less air traveling through the ear cavity. Some sleep positions are better for easing ear pain than others. The key is to minimize pressure on the inflamed, irritated, or infected ear by sleeping on the opposite side. Doctors recommend sleeping on at least two pillows to keep the ear elevated.
Minor ear pain may ease with acetaminophen or ibuprofen pain relievers. It's important to follow all drug directions and be cautious, especially when treating children and adolescents. Often, a round of medication and other at-home remedies will be enough to clear up the infection within a few days. If ear pain persists, consult a doctor to find the best treatment to manage symptoms and prevent further pain.
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