The last thing I ever want to have to go to the doctor for is an ear infection. Okay, going to the dentist is worse! If you have kids, you probably feel this way too.
Ear aches in children happen pretty often, and while they are typically pretty minor, you wouldn't know it by their cries. Ear aches really hurt for being such small problems.
So what do you do when an ear ache strikes and you can't get anything done? (Either because you have it or your 3-year-old does!) Rest easy, there are some easy and fast acting home remedies you can use to relieve them.
Earaches can be caused by anything from a plane ride to a cold. Earaches typically hurt because of fluid buildup in the middle ear, which causes too much pressure and eventually pain as well.
That fluid buildup is usually caused by a clogged eustachian tube (the tube that connects your ear to your throat), which prevents your ears from regulating fluids as they would usually.
Once the eustachian tube becomes clogged, bacteria will start to build up and cause an infection. You will know that it has become infected when it is no longer a dull ache and is instead a noticeable pain.
These are my two favorite home remedies for earaches. The first remedy helps to unclog your ear while the second focuses on killing the bad bacteria causing the infection.
The first is simple because it is an external treatment: apply warm, moist heat to your ear.
The heat source should be warm, not hot, because you don’t want to risk burning yourself and making things worse. Besides which, you don’t want scalding steam entering your ear either.
One great way to do this is to take a plate and heat it in the oven until it’s warm. Then cover the plate with a warm, wet towel.
Lie sideways with your ear pressed against the plate and let the warmth and moisture soothe your ear. I like to use smaller plates because they sink nicely into a pillow, and I find them more comfortable.
You can also use a hot water bottle wrapped with a towel to create the same effect. Or, if you’re in a hurry, just hop in a hot steamy shower for some temporary relief.
Keeping your ear facing towards the ground while keeping it heated will help soften up your ear and unclog it. This is a great time to pop in a movie or read a good book for a couple of hours!
The second method involves placing oil in your ear. If you are reasonably confident that your ear pain isn’t caused by anything other than fluid buildup (say, a punctured eardrum), then this is a safe method to use.
The simplest oil you can use to soothe an earache is plain mineral oil. Mineral oil is unlikely to cause irritation, so it’s the best choice to use in your ear. You can also use olive oil, which has natural antibiotics that should easily clear up an infection.
Put one teaspoon of mineral or olive oil into a cup and add one garlic clove cut in half. Let this "marinate" for about twenty minutes to allow the garlic's antibacterial juice to soak in.
Warm the oil to a few degrees above body temperature and test it on your wrist to make sure it’s not hot. Now, double-check! Make certain it’s not going to scald your ear canal.
Once you are 100% positive that the oil isn’t hot, dip a cotton ball or your finger in the oil and gently swab the inside of your ear. Do not use a Q-tip or try to get it deep inside your ear.
Swab your ear a couple of times a day, and you should notice the ear ache quickly clearing up.
If you've read around on this site for a while, you probably know that I am a little bit obsessed with raw apple cider vinegar. It's for good reason, I promise. Ear aches are just another thing that this wonderful stuff can heal.
Take a cotton ball and pour about a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar (raw and unpasteurized are a must!) onto it. Lay down on your bed or couch with your painful ear pointed towards the ceiling.
Place the cotton ball gently in your ear and allow the fluid to soak into your ear for thirty to sixty seconds. Then, point your ear towards the floor and let all of the vinegar run out.
If you have a young child who can't quite hold still long enough for this, simply swab the ear with the cotton ball every 12 hours until it clears up.
While you’re getting better, take an OTC or herbal pain reliever and apply moist heat to your ear. The problem will likely clear up on its own within a day or two. If it doesn't, that would be the right time to see your doctor.