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Ear pains can be one of the most irritating problems for any all age groups and gender. Often it is very unbearable and despite anything, distracting oneself from it is almost impossible. An earache can be caused by several factors but they are not always due to bacterial infections which need prescribed medication. Often the factors are inflammation and build-up of pressure inside the ear. Earaches are also caused by a sore throat and sinus pressure which affect the regions around the ear. In most of the cases, especially among children who are the most affected by earaches, there are several easier home remedies for reducing the ear pain.
Home remedies for Ear Pain
1. Hot or Cold compress
Ice packs or warm compresses are quite effective instant remedies for ear pain and the method is among the safest for children as well as adults. While hot packs are mostly used to reduce inflammation, cold packs are mostly to numb the nerve cells to feel the pain. None of the methods should be done to children without adult supervision. Mostly hot packs are observed to be more effective, but for some alternate hot and cold packs work the best. It should be noted that hot packs should not be too hot and children must not apply ice directly on the skin. These compresses should be applied to the nearby areas of the ear like the neck and throat for best results.
Gentle massages around the ear can be very effective in reducing pain especially if it is radiating from the jaw or by tension by a headache. Massaging the tender areas and surrounding muscles can bring great relief. In case of an ear infection, use a downward motion, applying pressure from behind the ear towards the neck. Continue the downward pressure and work it up back towards the ear. Repeat the process for a soothing effect. It also helps in draining away the excess fluid away from the ears significantly reducing the pain.
3. Ginger, garlic and onions
Ginger is quite a magical herb root which has natural anti-inflammatory properties and it can be very helpful in the case of earaches. One can apply drops of ginger juice or oil strained with ginger around the outer canals but not directly in the ear to treat an earache. Garlic is a substance with great antibiotic and pain-relieving properties. Crush some garlic and soak it in warm oil for several minutes. Strain the garlic away and apply this liquid into the ear canal. One can also try eating a garlic clove each day to prevent infections. Similarly, onions can also be applied along with oil which has the same capacity to fight infection and reduce pain.
4. Olive oil and Tea tree oil
According to AAP, olive oil can be an effective treatment for earaches though there is no substantial proof for it. It has been used as a fold remedy and helps in cleaning up the ear with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The temperature should be regulated to match body temperature so that it doesn’t the eardrums. Tea tree oil also has similar properties along with being a powerful antifungal and antiseptic. It can be mixed with olive oil to treat ear pains or even used directly if your ear is not too sensitive.
5. Neck exercises
Many a time earaches are simply caused by pressure in the ear canal and some well-performed movements can prove to be a quick relief. Neck rotation exercises can prove to be quite helpful in these situations. Keep your body straight such that your both feet lay flat on the ground. Rotate your neck and head slowly towards your right such that it is parallel to your right shoulder and then the other way to make it parallel to the left shoulder. Raise your shoulders as if to cover your ears with them. Move your body slowly and let your muscles stretch and relax. Continue this to a count five to ten. This exercise can be repeated throughout the day and can show gradual effects.
6. Sleep position
According to some studies, some sleep positions might increase ear pain due to infection while others can help reduce it. Sleep such that the affected ear is allowed to drain better by either elevating your head though extra pillows or raising the affected ear instead of it facing the pillow. The overall body posture especially the neck and head while sleeping can also affect the ear pain to alleviate.
7. Out of the box remedies
According to usual observance, sucking on something like a candy or cough drops can help reduce pressure in the Eustachian tubes and relief is offered. Since the throat and ear canal are connected, it’s quite an effective method for children as well as adults.
Mostly for babies, breast milk is also a good remedy against ear pain. Breast milk has several antimicrobial properties and can be applied topically on the ear canal to help relieve pain without any side-effects. Infants should be continued nursing as much as possible to get the maximum benefits out of it.
Apart from these tried and tested home remedies, some chemical means also bring about immediate relief.
Chemical and other means
1. Over-the-counter medicines
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are a few medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen which are proven to control pain in case of intense of an infection called acute otitis media (AOM). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can temporarily reduce pain. These drugs are mostly harmless and risk-free to use irrespective of antibiotics in the body but the dosage directions must be strictly followed. Aspirin is not recommended for children below sixteen. The doctor should be consulted in case of infants and children.
2. Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is among the most common natural remedies for ear pain. It is a cerumenolytic, which implies that it has the capacity to soften, breakdown and dissolve earwax. Earwax accumulation can be a common cause of ear pain and hence, cleaning the ear with hydrogen peroxide can help to treat ear pain. Drops of the liquid are poured into the ear and allowed to sit for a while after which it is allowed to be drained off along with the impurities. Several ear drops contain forms of hydrogen peroxide which help in cleaning the ear.
3. Ear drops
Ear drops come for various purposes which help in reducing pressure build up in the ear by fluid or ear wax. One should not use it on a daily basis but only as prescribed for a few days till the ear pain subsides. The doctor should be consulted before applying eardrops in children. It is mostly not recommended to use eardrops if one has tubes in the ears or if the eardrums are ruptured by any previous accident.
Myringotomy is also an older technique to treat earaches naturally by making a small incision in the eardrum to let the pus drain out in the case of ear infections. It also helped in letting out pressure from the ear. Commonly used prior to the popularity of antibiotics and is still considered in the cases of unusual bacterial infections, it is mostly used for infants and newborns and those with an especially weaker immune system which cannot tolerate the intrusion of other substances in the body.
There are several alternative treatments which have been proven to be just as powerful and effective as over-the-counter medicines.
- Naturopathic ear drops are made out of herbal extracts and available in drug stores or online. They have been approved by the FDA and are said to be a good choice for children usually being risk-free of side effects.
- Chiropractic treatment involves the practitioner to manipulate the body such that the skeletons are positioned in a fixed alignment.
- Homoeopathy is also controversial with regards to ear infection since it involves a variety of plants and minerals to treat specific symptoms.
- Oral probiotics and nasal sprays have also been used for the treatment of ear infections where supposedly good bacteria can help prevent the infection and have produced good results. They can be effective treatments as per some studies but long-term studies haven’t proved their credibility as such.
The human ear is a sensitive organ and as such quite prone to several problems. It is advised to clean it regularly and not let ear wax accumulate into it. It should be cleaned dry such that no water pressure can cause pain. Also, damp ears are most prone to fungal and bacterial infections. Therefore, it’s necessary to clean the ear canals inside and out with the help of a cotton bud on a daily basis after bathing or having a shower. Infants and children should be taken special care of because of their activities involving games and going outside. Often ears are open to external impurities like dust, rain and even insects. In case of a severe intrusion in the ear, a doctor should be immediately contacted to treat the ear. Carelessness in case of ear pains or any blockage can cause severe problems like breaking of eardrums or deafness.