The Best Home Remedies For Getting Rid of Ear Infection

The Best Home Remedies For Getting Rid of Ear Infection

An ear infection (acute otitis media) is a painful condition that can affect any part of the ear. Depending on the severity of the infection in the ear, you may also experience itchiness in the ear, discharge or fluid draining from the ear or a slight loss of hearing. Because infections of the ear develop in children more often than adults, it can be difficult to find the best treatment to cure ear infections. In fact, the pain and discomfort from ear infections can be especially distressing for a child. Ear infections in children can cause ear irritation when lying down and sleeping, increased crying and irritability, drainage of fluid from the ear, and headaches.

After a crying infant is brought to the doctor’s office following a sleepless night, the doctor often quickly prescribes some antibiotics to ease the painful symptoms of the ear infection. But, antibiotics might not be the best choice when it comes to ear infections and you may also want to consider home remedies for treating the infection (but consult with your doctor first).

The American Academy of Pediatrics published revised guidelines in 2013 to advise medical personnel on the best practices to diagnose and treat ear infections in children. In many cases, they recommend a ‘wait- and-see’ or ‘watchful waiting’ approach to see if the ear infection symptoms go away by themselves. They reported that around 66% of children with earaches and ear infections were cured without the need for antibiotics.1

You don’t want to be unnecessarily contributing to a growing antibiotic resistance. What is usually needed is some good rest, symptom control, careful observation and a bit of patience. Of course, ear infections might be unpleasant and exhausting for kids and adults alike, so there are many natural home remedies to treat the symptoms of ear infections.

Ear infection symptoms

Common symptoms of ear infection include:

In children with ear infection, you may also observe:

 Is it really an Ear Infection?

Dr. Allan Lieberthal, the lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, believes that ear infections are a highly over-diagnosed condition. If the child is acting funny, the ear hurts, and there is some redness of the inner membrane, it doesn’t automatically mean that he or she has an ear infection. It might just be that the fluid from the ear is not draining well.

Prescribing antibiotics won’t always solve the problem. Ear infections can be caused either by bacteria or viruses. In viral cases – which are very common – antibiotics won’t work as viruses don’t respond to them.

According to a research, the ‘watchful waiting’ approach is much more advisable, especially in children over the age of two. Dr. Lieberthal suggests waiting for 48 to 72 hours to see if the pain, swelling, redness, and discomfort caused by infections in the ear go away by themselves.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that antibiotics are prescribed only if there is ‘moderate to severe’ bulging of the tympanic membrane (the eardrum). Also, to make sure the infection in the inner, middle, or outer ear is caused by a bacterial infection, a swab should be taken first.

Natural Ear Infection Remedies

While you’re waiting for your (or your little one’s) infection to clear, there are many natural home remedies that can help you alleviate the symptoms and reduce the discomfort and pain.

1. Garlic

Garlic works as a natural antibiotic and it helps to soothe the ear pain associated with ear infections. It contains powerful aromatic compounds that have an antiseptic effect to kill off bacteria and viruses that cause infections. It is also an effective natural anti-inflammatory agent which will reduce swelling in the ear canal and discomfort in the ear. You can use garlic in different ways to help treat ear infections:

Make garlic oil to get rid of ear infection:

  • Crush 2 garlic cloves and wait for a few minutes to let the allicin form. Then cook in a few tablespoons of sesame oil or mustard oil or olive oil for several minutes.
  • Strain the solution.
  • Pour two to four drops of the garlic oil remedy into your painful ear. The temperature should be warm.
  • You need to lie on your side for at least 30 seconds to let the garlic oil disappear in the ear canal.
  • Repeat 3 to 4 times daily to treat the ear infection and to alleviate the pain.

Make garlic compress to relieve ear infection pain faster:

  • Boil 2 to 3 fresh garlic cloves for a few minutes.
  • Crush them and add some salt.
  • Wrap the mixture in a clean cloth and press it against the painful ear to relieve the ear pain.

Eat raw garlic to cure your ear infection faster:

Two to three crushed cloves a day will boost your immunity and may help to speed up healing process of the infection in the ear.

2. Olive oil

Olive oil is a natural medicine and it can help clear the ear infection by softening the ear wax. One of the main causes of an ear infection is wax in the ear that catches fungal or bacterial growth. Use olive oil as a natural ear infection remedy to help clear the wax blockage from your ear.

  • Warm the olive oil slightly.
  • Pour a few drops of the remedy into the infected ear.
  • When the ear wax has softened, gently remove it from the outer ear with cotton-tipped swabs, but be careful not to go too deep and cause an injury (I’ve previously mentioned why it’s not good to clean inside your ears).

Tip: To increase the efficacy you can add to the olive oil garlic and mullein flowers that work very well for relieving ear infections. Mullein has been used in traditional medical systems due to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

Garlic Mullein Oil to Treat Ear Infection

2-3 tbsp chopped garlic
2-3 tbsp mullein flowers
Extra virgin olive oil

Place the garlic and mullein flowers in a small saucepan and add just enough oil to cover the herbs. Warm for 15-20 minutes over very low heat. Strain well and store in tightly covered glass jar in the refrigerator.

How to use? warm the oil in a teaspoon over a candle or stove-top burner. Warm only to body temperature (about room temperature). Use a dropper and apply 3-4 drops into the ear. Apply the warm oil every 30 minutes or as often as needed.

3. Steam inhalations with Eucalyptus and lavender essential oils

Essential oils are an excellent remedy to treat ear infections naturally. You can use essential oils for ear infections by inhaling steam which will help to kill off infections in your nose and ear canal (both of which are connected together).

In fact, essential oils are an extremely effective home remedy to help soothe ear discomfort and pain. To use essential oil as a home remedy for ear-related infections, this is what you should do:

4. Basil

Holy basil has shown to be effective for treating minor earaches and ear infections. There are a few different methods to use basil to relieve the symptoms of a painful ear infection.

Basil juice for treating ear infection

  • Crush four to five fresh basil leaves to extract the juice.
  • Apply the basil juice around the painful ear, but make sure it doesn’t leak into the ear canal.

Basil oil for soothing ear pain

  • Mix a few drops of basil oil with carrier oil (such as coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil).
  • Pour the natural remedy on a cotton ball and wipe around the infected ear, just inside the ear (but not into the ear canal) and behind the ear.
  • Repeat twice daily until the pain in your ear has gone.

5. Diluted tea tree oil

There are conflicting references regarding the use of tea tree oil for curing an ear infection. According to a study published in the journal Audiology & Neuro-otology short exposure to tea tree oil in the ear can help kill off bacteria and viruses that cause ear infections.2 Tea tree oil has long been used as an alternative treatment for ear infections due to its antiseptic properties.

However, according to WebMD website, it is not recommended to use tea tree oil in the ears, because it may cause damage to the inner ear.3 Doctors from Mayo Clinic advise to avoid adding tea tree oil into the middle ear, as toxicity of the ear has occurred with large doses.4 Therefore always dilute tea tree oil and consult with your doctor before using it inside your ear.

To use tea tree oil to help cure an ear infection quickly, you should do the following:

  1. Dilute few drops of tea tree oil with ¼ cup of warm olive oil prior to use.
  2. Tilt your head to one side and use a small dropper to add a few drops to the painful ear.
  3. Keep your head tilted for one minute, so the liquid can slide into the ear canal to treat the infection.
  4. Return to an upright position and gently dab the ear with a clean cotton ball.
  5. Repeat three times a day for two days to relieve the pain and speed up the healing process of the infection in your ear.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Apple cider vinegar can help to treat the discomfort in your ear caused by an ear infection. Raw ACV has antimicrobial properties that can kill bacteria and viruses and also soothe itchy inflamed skin in the ear.

Apple cider vinegar changes the pH of the ear canal, creating an environment where bacteria and viruses cannot thrive, so this makes it an effective home remedy for curing ear infections. Studies on the medicinal use of vinegar say that acetic acid (apple cider vinegar contains a high amount of acetic acid) is effective in treating earache and ear infections.5

You can make your own homemade remedy to treat ear infections by warming a 50/50 mixture of raw unprocessed organic ACV and water. Before putting the ACV mixture in your ear, test the heat of the liquid on the inside of the wrist to make sure the temperature is not too hot. Soak a cotton ball into the apple cider vinegar ear remedy and leave it plugged onto your ear for several minutes to treat the infection. Repeat this a few times daily to get relief from the uncomfortable feeling in your ear and fight the ear infection. Lie on your side so that the vinegar will soak deeply into the ear canal.

7. Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3%

Apart from being an effective home treatment for excess earwax and ear infections, hydrogen peroxide has many other uses around the home.

Because hydrogen peroxide has antimicrobial properties, it can treat ear infections of the outer or middle ear.

At the first sign of an ear infection, you should use food grade 3% hydrogen peroxide in your ear to prevent an infection from developing. In many cases, this can alleviate the need for using antibiotics.

Although 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide is generally safe and non-toxic for ear infections, you shouldn’t use it if you have a perforated or punctured eardrum. Inner ear infections also shouldn’t be treated with hydrogen peroxide.

You can find detailed information on this subject in my article about how to use hydrogen peroxide for an ear infection.

Ear Infection – When to see a doctor

In some cases, medical assistance is required if you or your child has a severe ear infection. According to pediatric Dr. Susan C. Kim,6 you should see a doctor if:

  • Your child has a fever of over 39°C (102°F).
  • He or she has severe symptoms of a cough, runny nose, and ear pain.
  • You observe a discharge of pus or blood from the ear.
  • The pain in your ear is severe and doesn’t diminish.

If you have any doubts, see your doctor as soon as possible, especially if you have these symptoms of inner ear infection (otitis interna).

Read these related articles:
1. How to Naturally Get Rid of Clogged Ears
2. How to Unpop Your Ears Quickly and Easily: The Best Natural Ways
3. How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Ear Wax Removal and Ear Infection
4. Home Remedies for a Pimple in Ear

Article Sources

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Management of acute otitis media
  2. Audiol Neurootol. 2000 Mar-Apr;5(2):64-8
  3. WebMD. Tea tree oil
  4. Mayo Clinic. Tea tree oil
  5. 2006; 8(2): 61.
  6. WebMD. Ear infections

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