Earaches can hurt really bad, but the good news is that they usually go away on their own in a week or two. However, kids tend to have ear infections more commonly than adults because they have a smaller Eustachian tube. Nevertheless, antibiotics are not recommended in most cases, and the ‘wait-and-see’ approach needs to be adopted for ear infection treatment. However, it’s also worth trying a few home natural remedies for ear infections in adults to help soothe the pain a bit to get the best ear infection treatment.
What is an Ear Infection?
Ear infections can essentially be divided into two types:
This type is an infection of the middle ear and is very common in kids. It might manifest as fevers, trouble hearing, pain and even swelling or drainage.
Otitis externa, also called Swimmer’s ear, is a condition wherein fluid develops in the ear, causing pus formation and swelling. But don’t worry because there are many home remedies for fluid in the ear that can start showing results only after two to three days.
Some symptoms like swelling might be more obvious than others, but here are all the symptoms associated with ear infections:
- Difficulty balancing
- Sore throat
- Inner ear pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Hearing loss
- Fluid discharge from the ear that causes pain
- Buzzing in the ear
- An odour in the ear
What Causes an Ear Infection?
The ear infection treatment will vary depending on the cause of the infection. For instance, herbs for ear infections or home remedies for fluid in the ear might not work if your infection is caused by cavities, though they might help alleviate some of the pain. The most common reason for ear infections are bacteria and viruses, but the main causes are as follows:
- Sinus infections
- Teeth grinding
- Earwax accumulation
(but using Q-tips is not recommended)
Natural Remedies for Ear Infections
Since these infections tend to subside on their own, you don’t need a rigorous ear infection treatment plan. So, maybe you can use certain natural home remedies for ear infections in adults to help manage the condition. They won’t harm you, but they might help, even if only via the placebo effect.
Here are some of the best natural home remedies for ear infections in adults:
#1 Ear Popping
Close your mouth, hold your nostrils, and breathe through your nose until you feel a slight pop indicating pressure change. Ear popping is actually quite healthy and one of the easiest home remedies for fluid in the ear.
#2 Gargling with Saltwater
If the ear infection is related to a sore throat, the ear infection treatment will involve merely gargling with saltwater. You should use one teaspoon of salt for every 8 ounces of warm water.
#3 Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol
Home remedies for fluid in the ear include using a solution of vinegar and rubbing alcohol in equal proportions. But before you try this ear infection treatment, make sure you don’t have a tube or hole in your eardrum. Plus, as with any home remedy, you should obviously stop using it if you feel discomfort and immediately see a doctor. It is generally recommended to prevent Swimmer’s ear.
Steam can help clear up congestion. Thus taking a warm shower or inhaling vapours can be a good idea to treat ear infections.
#5 Changing Sleeping Positions
Your sleeping position can aggravate your symptoms if it puts too much pressure on your ear. In fact, if you sleep with your affected ear upwards, you can manage the pain and help your ear heal faster. However, if you have fluid in the ear, you might want to sleep with the ear facing downwards so it can drain better. Sleeping with pillows can also help with drainage. The point is to keep the affected ear elevated.
#6 Cold or Warm Compress
Both cold and warm compresses can help soothe earache. So, hold an ice pack, heating pad, or damp washcloth against the ear for almost 10 to15 minutes. It’s also a good idea to alternate hot and cold treatments when treating children. The exact temperature depends on your own preference but consider wrapping the ice pack or heating pad (if you’re using one) in a towel, so it’s not too hold or cold.
#7 Vitamin D
Vitamin D can boost immunity, reducing the risk and incidence of infections, including ear infections. So, vitamin D supplementation, exposure through sunlight and even dietary consumption can serve as an ear infection treatment.
#8 Neck Exercises
Neck exercises are also one of the easiest home remedies for ear infections in adults because they can help relieve pressure in the ear. Just sit or stand straight and rotate your neck to either side, in turn, until it’s parallel with your shoulders. Hold the position for about 10 seconds, and then raise your shoulders in an attempt to cover your ears. But rememberto be slow and gentle, and repeat this exercise often to ensure relief.
Ginger is on top of the list of herbs for ear infection because of its anti-inflammatory properties. You can use an infused oil or juice on the outer ear to help with the pain. However, don’t ever pour it directly into your ear.
#10 Hydrogen Peroxide
Another home remedy for fluid in the ear is using hydrogen peroxide. Just pour several drops in the affected ear and then drain them into a sink after a few minutes. Also, be sure to rinse your ear with clean water afterwards.
#11 Garlic oil
Garlic is another excellent herb for ear infections owing to its antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties. Not to mention, it is also pain-relieving. Thus, you can use garlic drops in your ear canal to treat bacterial or viral ear infections. In fact, you can even make your own garlic oil by infusing crushed garlic in warm sesame or olive oil.
Mullein is available at health stores and is an active ingredient in herbal ear drops. Oil from the flowers is very effective in treating ear infections, and so it’s a good practice to use mullein as a natural remedy for ear infections.
#13 Olive oil
Although not backed by science, olive oil is believed to be an excellent home remedy for ear infections in adults. It is also safe when used moderately, but you should definitely check with your doctor before trying it on your children. Also, make sure the oil is not too hot, or it might burn your eardrum.
Chiropractic adjustments can help relieve both ear and back pain. It can also relax the muscles around the ear so that any trapped fluid can escape. Plus, it has also proven effective against infection, even in children.
#15 Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which is antibacterial and so, mixing it with equal parts warm water and pouring a few drops in the ear can be helpful to ease earache. You can use a dropper or simply swab a soaked cotton ball on the exterior of the ear.
#16 Facial Gua Sha
Facial gua sha is a massage technique using rose quartz or jade stone to improve circulation and relax muscles in the neck and jaw. Tight muscles can slow down the healing process, so this remedy is definitely worth a try!
Acupuncture can help both earaches and infections. It decreases inflammation, relaxes muscles, and clears the heat (infection) to help you feel better. Not to mention, acupuncture has many other health benefits as well, so there’s no reason not to try it.
#18 Over-the-counter Painkillers
Over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can serve as an ear infection treatment for acute middle ear infections. They are generally regarded as safe if consumed in the appropriate dosage. Plus, they can help bring down a fever to help you feel more comfortable. But just remember that while aspirin is safe for you, it is not recommended for children under the age of 16.
Apart from everything else, it also helps to keep your child distracted with other activities so they won’t be as cranky. You can take their mind off things by doing their favourite things with
them, like having a bubble bath, playing games, colouring, or whatever else they enjoy. You can also get their favourite snacks and put on their favourite movie to cheer them up.
When to See a Doctor?
Home remedies for ear infections in adults can do you a world of good. However, things are not always so straightforward. Thus, if the earache persists after two to three days or gets worse, you should contact an ENT specialist immediately. Severe pain could be an indication of certain complications like a burst eardrum which warrant immediate medical attention. Putting off going to the doctor in such a scenario could result in permanent hearing loss.
What’s the Takeaway?
While there is no scientific evidence to prove the efficacy of herbs for ear infections, home remedies for fluid in the ear have been tried for many centuries. Also, since ear infection treatment usually does not demand any aggressive procedure or even antibiotics, it’s a good idea to try home remedies for ear infections in adults to help ease the pain while you recover in around one or two weeks. But if your condition is getting worse, you should consider going to the doctor immediately.