Once in a lifetime, each one of us might have had an episode of an earache. In some instances, we might have had a pain wherein it becomes difficult to distinguish whether the origin of pain was in ear, jaw or your teeth. Ear infections are a leading cause of earaches, seen mostly in kids below six years of age (1) because of small size and shape of the Eustachian tube and weak immune system. However, the ear infection is also common in adults.

Also, if you take your kids to any doctor at the very start of the ear infection, then the doctor would never prescribe an antibiotic. Most of the time, doctors want to wait for 24 to 72 hours to check if symptoms improve or not.

Sometimes they do improve, and sometimes they do not. But in the meantime, there are several home remedies for ear infection which might treat you. You will see natural ear infection remedies which might be of help especially in middle ear infection.

What is an ear infection & common cause?

Infection of the ear is called otitis media. The human ear has an outer, middle and inner ear. Infection of the middle ear is most common. This infection leads to fluid buildup behind the middle ear and causes pain ranging from dull to sharp or stabbing.

Bacteria and virus are the offending organisms causing most of the middle ear infections.

Ear infections can be acute, or chronic. If left untreated it can progress into mastoiditis, hearing loss, perforation of the eardrum, meningitis, facial nerve paralysis, Meniere’s disease in adults.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is the bacteria which causes the majority of ear infections. Viruses such as the respiratory virus, H. Influenza can also cause ear infections. Usually, cold and allergies lead to congestion of the Eustachian tube, which connects back to the throat to the middle ear.

The blockage creates a buildup of fluid inside the Eustachian tube and allows bacteria or virus to flourish. This condition will result in an ear infection.

What are the symptoms of ear infections?

Middle ear infection symptoms include inflammation and fluid buildup inside your ear. This will further lead to several symptoms such as:

  • Ear pain of mild to severe nature can occur.
  • Children can have fever associated with the ear infection (2).
  • Stiff neck, pain radiating to neck and jaw also seen.
  • A toothache can also occur from the referred pain.
  • Difficulty hearing, dizziness.
  • Severe infection can lead to vertigo and loss of balance.
  • Redness and swelling can also be seen associated with the condition.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Drainage of fluid from the infected ear is seen.

Home remedies for ear infection

Natural ear infection remedies are safe and do not cause side effects. Most of the things involved are readily available in any nearby health store.

1. Garlic

Garlic has potent antimicrobial, antiviral and antimicrobial properties (3). Garlic can be employed to treat the ear infection in many ways.

Garlic cloves are crushed and added to coconut oil. This mixture is then heated till the garlic turns black and then brought to room temperature. The oil is added drop by drop in the infected ear, and the patient is asked to rest in the same position for 15 minutes. Alternatively, mustard oil can also be used (45).

Fresh garlic cloves can also be cut into small pieces and added to boiling water along with salt. This garlic is wrapped into a clean cotton cloth and applied gently to the area around the ear.

2. Olive oil

Olive oil has unique healing polyphenols and antioxidants which protect cells from damage and reduces the inflammation associated with the ear infection. It also helps sooth the stretched tissues of eardrum due to the fluid build-up and reduces the pain.

3. Mullein

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is considered one of the best remedies to treat ear infections. It is a potent anti-viral, anti-inflammatory pain reliever.

A few drops of mullein oil, which is extracted from the yellow flower of the plant, is taken on a small cotton ball. The cotton ball is placed in the infected ear for up to 15 minutes.

The analgesic effect of the oil gives relief from an earache associated with the infection. The procedure is repeated few times a day till the infection slowly subsides.

4. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has numerous therapeutic benefits. It has antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral properties. Tea tree oil is mixed with a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil. The solution is then slowly dripped into the ear through a clean dropper.

The patient is asked to lay on the side for around five minutes, and the oil is then drained out by turning the head. The procedure is repeated until infection and pain subsides.

5. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has both antibacterial and antifungal properties in conjunction with many healing properties. You have to mix one part of apple cider vinegar with two parts of water. An irrigation syringe is used to flush this liquid in the affected ear.

The patient is then asked to turn his head to drain this liquid after ten minutes. The same procedure is repeated with another ear.

6. Diluted hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful antibacterial and antifungal agent. It also helps soften the ear wax. This is especially helpful in a situation where an earache is due to wax buildup.

You have to mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide with lukewarm water. Then you have put a few drops of this solution in the affected ear with the help of a dropper.

The patient is asked to lie in the same position for 10 to 15 minutes. The liquid is then cleaned with either a cotton ball or sponge.

7. Castor oil

Castor oil has many antimicrobial properties. It also helps remove the excess wax buildup. Castor oil is warmed, and a cotton plug is soaked in oil and placed in the ear. This is left overnight, and the head is placed such that ear with the plug is facing upwards.

The warmth of the oil will help loosen up the wax buildup and also soothe the pain associated with the ear infection.

8. Chiropractor

Bacterial or fungal problems do not cause all ear infections. Some of these ear infections can arise from spinal misalignment.

People suffering from repeated ear infections should consider visiting a chiropractor. Sometimes due to nerve compression, especially around the upper neck, our body is not able to relay signals or may relay false signals.

This can lead to repeated inflammation and infection in the ear. A chiropractor will merely reduce the pressure on the nerve, and it will subsequently reduce ear infections (6).

9. Vitamin D

Vitamin D improves the overall immune response of our body to infections. Studies have shown vitamin D3 is effective in treating patients with acute otitis media (7).

Ear infection can clear on its own if the immunity is boosted mainly in cases of children.

More home remedies for ear infection

Foods which can help you in ear infections

  • Foods rich in omega-3 – Omega-3 fats, which are found in foods such as fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, etc., can help in reducing inflammation.
  • Fruits & vegetables high in vitamin C – Vitamin C will keep your immune system healthy and as a result, you may not catch any infection including an ear infection.
  • Mother’s milk – Ear infections in children below 6 months of age can be managed by mother’s milk as it has antibodies that will help fight the disease or infection.
  • Water – Keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough water as the mucus will clear out automatically.

Foods that you have to avoid

You can keep yourself away from foods like sugar, processed foods, dairy products and potential food allergens.

Final words on home remedies for ear infection

Over the years many practices have been developed to treat ear infections, but the natural remedies have always proven to be most effective and safe (8). You can have a strong immunity level by daily intake of a balanced diet, and eliminate the food allergens.