Ear conditions and infections are a common occurrence in many people. We’ve all experienced some kind of earache at some point. Usually, it goes away on its own but some more serious conditions can affect our quality of life. When the pain starts interfering with everyday activities, it’s time to do something about it. You can your doctor’s advice on medicine for ear pain if it’s intense or you can try some alternative ways to find relief.
Ear infections can happen in adults and children, but they are more common in children because their Eustachian tubes, which connect the throat and the middle ear, are smaller and easily clogged. Frequent symptoms in both adults and children are trouble sleeping and hearing, pain and swelling, headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, and fluid coming out from the ear. Children, especially babies and younger ones who can’t express what’s wrong, tend to pull their ears and cry. They are more irritable than usual and can have a fever.
Sometimes there’s no infection at all but your ears are blocked by the build-up wax inside the canals. Glands in the ear produce wax that helps the ear clean up by itself. Due to various reasons, people produce different amounts of wax. If the ear canals are smaller and the wax can’t get out, it becomes stuck and builds up over time. This causes pain, and if not removed on time or correctly, it can lead to more serious infections.
Most of the time, infections are consequences of a cold, flu, or some kind of an allergy, and they are caused by a virus or bacteria that infect the ear. Smoking, sinus infection, strep throat, an object or water trapped in the ear, and an infected tooth can be other reasons for pain in the ear.
If the symptoms aren’t grave, doctors wait for the infections to go away on their own. If not, they may prescribe some form of medication. In addition, there are some home remedies that can also help relieve the pain.
You can use painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol, acetaminophen, or antibiotics to stop the pain. But before doing so, it’s best to consult with your doctor for any side-effects. However, even if the pain resolves, these medications do not help treat the main cause of the earache, which is why you may want to try some specialised ear medicines.
That being said, ear drops can be an effective earache treatment to use. You can ask your pharmacist or have your doctor prescribe some. They are especially useful in treating swimmer’s ear, which is usually caused by water that remains in your ear after swimming or bathing. This moist environment is perfect for the development of bacteria, which leads to inflammation and infection. Ear drops contain ingredients such as benzocaine, phenazone, glycerol, and isopropyl alcohol that reduce inflammation, help pain relief, and prompt the ear to dry faster by absorbing moisture.
Drops can be used to help remove ear wax as well. They break it down or soften it so it can naturally get out of the ear. Some active ingredients in these wax-removal drops are glycerol, butoxyl, turpentine oil, and carbamide peroxide.
To make sure that you are using ear drops correctly:
- You should always wash your hands or use sanitiser because you don’t want to infect your ears even more;
- Warm the ear drops in your hand because cold drops can cause discomfort;
- You could tilt your head on the side or lie down, and then gently pull the upper or lower part of the ear so the drops can effectively enter the ear canal;
- Keep the head in the same position for several minutes for the drops to run into the ear;
- Remove extra liquid around the ear and wash your hands from the medication.
- Ear wax can also be removed with sprays, specifically designed wax remover solutions, or ear candles. They work in a similar way to drops by softening and dispersing the wax. You want to look for natural ingredients like spearmint, eucalyptus, mineral, olive oil, apricot kernel, or tea tree oil, which all help battle bacteria and are anti-inflammatory.
One thing that you can do is use essential oils for stress relief because by relaxing the body, any pain, including ear pain, becomes more bearable. In some cases, oils can be directly released into the ear or you can soak a cotton ball and place it inside. If the infection is on the outer ear or around the ear, you can massage oil directly onto the skin, but first, do a skin test to see if you are allergic.
Remember, you should always dilute essential oils with carrier oils like olive, coconut, or jojoba oil because they can be too strong on their own and cause burns. Ginger, tea tree, almond, and basil are some oils that have antibacterial properties and are a helpful ear infection treatment. But make sure to consult with your doctor first, you don’t want to make the condition worse.
Olive oil is mainly helpful for ear wax removal. Warm up a little oil but don’t let it become too hot so you don’t damage your ear, and pour a few drops. It softens the wax for easier removal and has a soothing effect.
Warm or Cold Cloth
You can cover some ice or a cold pack with a cloth, and hold it on the inflamed area. It shouldn’t hurt at all. If this doesn’t help, try soaking a cloth in warm water or use a heating pad that isn’t too hot.
Garlic and Onion
We all know that eating garlic helps our immune system battle disease. It has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties. You can hold a whole clove of garlic or a piece of onion on your ear for pain relief. Homemade garlic or onion drops can serve as a possible earache medicine, or you could buy garlic oil.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an old remedy which has many beneficial properties that make it a useful earache treatment. You should use a mixture of warm water and apple cider vinegar. Soak a cotton ball, pad or fine cloth, place it into your ear and hold for several minutes.
Chiropractic Treatment, Yoga, and Neck Exercises
For some people, chiropractic treatment helps for soothing ear pain. Certain yoga poses can assist in controlling pressure and clearing mucus, and in this way prevent infection later on. There are also various neck exercises that you could start practising for relieving earaches as a result of pressure.
Prevention is always the best treatment, and if you’re someone who’s prone to ear infections you might want to:
- Avoid using cotton swabs because they can push wax deeper into the ear, and be careful not to use anything else that could damage your ear;
- Use hats or plugs when swimming;
- Avoid secondhand smoke or smoking areas;
- Avoid crowded areas in flu season;
- Be careful not to let shampoo or other products get into your ear.