Ear aches and pain can really throw you off balance. They start with a tiny throbbing sensation then suddenly bust out with intense symptoms like migraine and dizziness. Whether in adults or kids, ear pain is a common condition that many people encounter at least once in their life. The pain and helplessness it causes though are too much no matter what age you are.
What causes ear aches and pain?
Ear ache is caused by an infection or disease in the ear, mouth, throat, nose or injury to your jawbones. It can all stem from a change in altitude or air pressure, wax accumulation, insects or particles in your ear (1).
It starts when the tube that runs from the back of the throat to the eardrum is jammed. This makes the eardrum fail to regulate pressure, so fluids can accumulate behind the eardrum causing the pain of ear aches. And, unsurprisingly, the more it accumulates the more painful it becomes.
Ear pain remedies and natural relief
Dealing with an ear ache can be a painful ordeal, but don't worry, there are a few natural home remedies you can try to relieve the pain fast if you don't want to seek medical attention straight away. However, should the pain persist for a long period of time or even after you've tried some of these home solutions for ear pain relief, you might want to speak to your Doctor. Here's a list of several inexpensive home remedies you can try to relieve you the pain of ear ache – bonus? You probably already have these ingredients in your fridge or kitchen cupboard.
1. Use cold or warm compresses
Icepacks or warm pads are often used to get rid of pain and ear infections at home. You can also use both by alternating every 10 minutes to relieve ear pain, and is a safe method for both adults and children – just make sure you place a small towel between the compress and your child's ear to avoid any sudden tantrums!
2. Garlic eardrops
With its pain-relieving and antibiotic properties, garlic is a popular home remedy for an earache in adults. Garlic eardrops can also have the same impact as over-the-counter eardrops (2), so pop into your local health pharmacy to ask for more advice.
3. Steam it up
You can help stop an earache fast and relax the blocked feeling with warm, moist air. Take a hot shower or long bath to get the effect of a steam as it can help ease the pressure and pair in your ear and make you feel a lot more comfortable.
4. Olive oil cotton pads
If your ear pain has been caused by an infection, olive oil can be a good natural way to make you feel balanced again. It acts as a lubricant and stops the vibrating sensation in your ear. You can apply drops directly or use a cotton pad soaked in the oil.
5. Neck exercises
Pressure in the ear canal can cause ear pain, so doing neck exercise can relieve the pressure and make your life comfortable again.
6. Dousing with vinegar
For an earache caused by an infection, vinegar can be a good remedy. It's a time and tested solution across many cultures (3) – all you do is mix a little vinegar (apple cider vinegar is a great option) with water and immerse a cotton pad in it. Then plug the cotton in your ear for several minutes before draining the liquid out. Dry it as much as you can (some people use hairdryers for this part).
7. Onion juice
Onions have antiseptic and antibacterial properties that make them a great ear ache remedy. Grating an onion to extract the juice and heating it over low heat has been done throughout time relieve ear ache (4). Once cooled, put several drops in the ear to relieve yourself from the pain. It might seem strange but it's been shown to work!
8. Avoid wearing headphones
This may seem obvious, but if you're dealing with earcahe or infection, avoid using or sharing ear buds or headphones with anyone else. The transfer of bacteria can be harmful if you have an infection and can stall the healing process.
When should I see a Doctor for ear pain?
Ensure you know the cause of the pain before trying to use the above home remedies. You may be doing zero work since some causes cannot be countered by home remedy alone. Some causes like a tooth cavity will require you visit a dentist.
If the cause is an infection, home remedies can do a great job fighting it, but if symptoms persist, seeking medical help is advisable. Even when you visit a Doctor, you might be told to wait for it to settle on its own without any medication, so that's when these top tips come in hand and save you time.
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1. US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311346/
2. Science-Based Medicine: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/ear-infections-to-treat-or-not-to-treat/
3. National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26322459
4. Cambridge University: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-laryngology-and-otology/article/an-onion-in-your-ear/57EBB49BB63B5787EA447FEC8369FC90