An ear infection (acute otitis media) is most often a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear. One of the main causes of this condition is wax in the ear-catching some fungal or bacterial growth leading to a blockage in the Eustachian tubes. Ear infections tend to be painful because of the inflammation and buildup of fluids in the middle ear.
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Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections and the most common signs that children show when they have an ear infection are:
- ear pain (especially when lying down),
- pulling at an ear,
- difficulty sleeping,
- crying (more than usual),
- acting irritable (more than usual),
- difficulty hearing,
- loss of balance,
- drainage of fluid from the ear,
- and loss of appetite.
In adults, the common symptoms include ear pain, drainage of fluid from the ear and difficulty hearing.
This infection often results from another illness (such as a cold, flu or allergy) that causes swelling of the nasal passages, throat, and Eustachian tubes.
Some risk factors for ear infections are the following:
- age (children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years are more susceptible to ear infections),
- group child care (children are exposed to more infections, such as the common cold),
- infant feeding (babies who drink from a bottle, especially while lying down, tend to have more ear infections than babies who are breastfed, so breastfeed your baby and hold it in an upright position during feedings),
- seasonal factors (earaches are most common during winter; people with seasonal allergies may have a greater risk of ear infections during seasonal high pollen counts),
- and poor air quality (tobacco smoke or air pollution can increase the risk of ear infection).
Your doctor probably will advise you to treat ear infections with eardrops, pain medication or antibiotic, but here you have some home and natural remedies for an earache.
Place a warm and moist washcloth over the affected ear. You can also use a heating pad or even cold compresses (to alleviate swelling).
- 4-5 fresh holy basil leaves.
- Carrier oil (optional; depending on the recipe).
- Crush the holy basil leaves gently to extract the juice from them.
- Apply a couple of drops of the basil juice on or around the infected ear. Note that you should not get the juice in the ear canal.
- You can also mix a few drops of holy basil oil with an equal amount of carrier oil (like coconut oil). To apply it, soak a cotton ball in the mixture and wipe inside the ear, around the outer edge, and behind the ear. Repeat the process twice daily.
- 1 cup salt/rice.
- 1 cloth.
- Heat up 1 cup of salt in a microwave on in a pan for 3-5 minutes.
- Put the hot salt inside a cloth and tie a knot.
- Lie down and put the cloth on the affected ear for 5-10 minutes.
- Repeat this remedy daily as many times as needed.
You can use 1 cup of rice in the same manner.
- 2-3 cloves of garlic.
- 2 cup water.
- Boil 2-3 cloves of garlic in water.
- Crush them and add some salt.
- Put the mixture in a piece of clean cloth.
- Place it on the affected area.
- You can also add a few drops of garlic juice to the affected ear.
- Consuming 2-3 cloves of raw garlic daily also helps speed up the healing process.
Apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar/white vinegar.
- 1 tablespoon water/alcohol.
- Mix the apple cider vinegar with and the water or alcohol.
- Soak a cotton ball in the mixture.
- Put the cotton ball in your ear and leave it for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the cotton ball and lay down on your opposite side to drain the liquid from the ear.
- Use a hair dryer to dry your ear well.
If the cause of the ear infection is in the Eustachian tubes, you can try to treat it gargling with apple cider vinegar.
If the cause of ear pain is infected wax, try the following home remedy:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Warm the olive oil slightly.
- Put a few drops of the warm oil into the infected ear (the oil will soften the wax).
- Remove the infected wax with cotton-tipped swabs.
Eat products rich in Vitamin C, because it helps to strengthen the immune system, has antibiotic properties and helps to prevent inflammation.
Tips on dealing with ear pain
- avoid putting cotton swabs (or similar) inside the ear when there is an infection,
- keep the ear clean and dry at all times,
- blow your nose gently (to avoid putting pressure on the eardrum),
- avoid exposure to smoke,
- if you are outdoors, place a small piece of cotton in the ears to protect them,
- keep your head elevated while sleeping,
- yawn often (as this helps to open up the Eustachian tubes),
- use a decongestant if you suffer from ear problems due to the cold (but consult your doctor before taking any such medication),
- take a hot shower (as the steam will help to unblock the ear),
- and avoid swimming (however, if you swim anyway, add some mineral oil to the ears before entering the water).