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Natural Home Remedies For Ear Pain

By Dr Anuja Bodhare +2 more

Introduction:  

Anybody who has ever got ear pain knows how annoying it is. The pain is oddly challenging to endure. You can experience this pain in either one or both ears. It might be a dull or sharp pain. You might feel this pain for a short period, or it can continue for longer. Most of the time, this pain goes away on its own. In children, ear infections are the most common cause of ear pain, while it is less common in adults. In adults, ear pain may be referred from another body site. i.e. the actual pain is somewhere else (tooth, throat, etc.), and pain occurs in the ear.1 Continue reading to know more about the home remedies for ear pain. 

home remedies for ear pain

Do You Know?

  • Middle ear infections usually go away on their own within a week. [source: healthdirect.gov.au]
  • Swimmer’s ear cannot be spread from one person to another. [source: cdc.gov]
  • Earaches in children may be accompanied by fever, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting. [source: health.govt.nz]
  • Holding a warm cloth or heat pack on the outside of the ear can help relieve ear pain. [source: healthdirect.gov.au]

What Causes Ear Pain? 

When the tube in the ear, called the Eustachian tube, gets filled with fluid and is blocked, it leads to pressure build-up behind the eardrum or ear infection. This might cause ear pain.1 

Earache in adults is rarely due to an ear infection. Commonly, earache is due to pain from some other part like teeth, jaw or throat that is felt in the ears.1 The conditions which cause ear pain are: 

  • Sore throat  
  • Sinus infection 
  • Tooth infection 
  • Short-term or long-term ear infection 
  • Arthritis of the jaw 
  • Temporomandibular joint syndrome 
  • Injury to the ear due to pressure changes like high altitudes etc. 
  • The build-up of wax or some object getting stuck in the ear1 
  • Swimmer’s ear (infection of the outer ear and ear canal), also called otitis externa1,2  
  • Otitis media (infection of the middle ear)1,3 
  • Malignant otitis externa (infection and damage of the bones of the ear canal and skull)1,4 

In children or infants, the following can cause ear pain: 

  • Ear infection  
  • Soap or shampoo in the ear  
  • Cotton-tipped swabs may cause ear canal irritation.1  

Symptoms of Ear Pain: 

Ear pain is a symptom that can occur due to any of the reasons stated above. However, here are a few associated symptoms mentioned which might help you recognise ear pain: 

  • Pain in your ear which may be sharp, dull or burning pain; for a short or long duration or due to pain in your teeth, jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) or throat 
  • Fever  
  • You may be irritable.1 

You can notice the following symptoms of ear pain in babies and children: 

  • Tugging at ears.  
  • Difficulty in hearing.  
  • Trouble sleeping. 
  • Difficulty in maintaining body balance. 
  • Fluid drainage from ears3 
  • Children with earaches might be fussy. 
  • Children may cry more due to earache. 
  • After an ear infection, many children might experience a little hearing loss, which is temporary. However, in rare cases, repeated ear infections can lead to long-lasting hearing loss.1  

If you have a swimmer’s ear, you might experience: 

  • Discharge from the ear- yellow-green or yellow pus-like discharge, which has a bad smell 
  • Worsening of ear pain on pulling the outer ear 
  • Your ear or ear canal might itch.  
  • Loss of hearing2 

If you have malignant otitis externa, in addition to the above symptoms, you might also experience: 

  • Weakness in muscles of the face    
  • Foul-smelling, yellow or green discharge from the ear    
  • Difficulty in swallowing4  

Sudden, unexplained ear pain, with or without fever in one or both ears associated with hearing loss or difficulty in hearing which doesn’t go on its own within 24 to 48 hours needs a consultation by an ENT specialist, as it might be a medical emergency in certain cases.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D. in Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology

Suggested Home Remedies for Ear Pain: 

Ear pain can be very uncomfortable and can cause a lot of distress. You might find yourself seeking a remedy to relieve this pain, as it can be challenging to endure. Here are a few home remedies for ear pain that have been tried and tested by many; you can try them out to bring relief. 

1. Garlic  

Garlic is a herb commonly used as a remedy for managing various conditions due to its inflammation alleviating property. It is also effective against different bacteria. A study shows garlic and its derivatives effectively eliminate ear infection-causing bacteria (P.aeruginosa and K.pneumoniae).5 To use it as a remedy for ear pain, you can eat one clove of crushed garlic daily or mix garlic in coconut oil and apply it around the ear. Please do not put the garlic inside your ears as it may harm your ears. 

2. Ginger  

Ginger as a home remedy is quite prevalent and is used for many conditions. Various extracts of ginger are potent and can help in alleviating inflammation and reducing pain.6 A little bit of ginger juice can be applied around the ear to relieve pain. It should not be applied inside the ear or be used as ear drops.7 

3. Tulsi  

Tulsi is known as the ‘Elixir of life’ in Ayurveda as it is used for managing many conditions. It is also called Holy basil, an aromatic herb of medicinal importance. It has inflammation-reducing action along with other therapeutic actions. Therefore, for relieving earache, tulsi can be used as ear drops.8 For making ear drops from tulsi, you simply have to take a few tulsi leaves and crush them to obtain the juice; this juice can be used as ear drops. Kindly ensure that you consult your doctor before putting it in your ear. 

4. Avartani  

Avartani is known as the Indian screw tree in English and Marod phali in Hindi. This plant has healing properties and is used to manage various other ailments besides earache. The use of avartani for earache is mentioned in Ayurveda. As a remedy for earache, crushed pods are used. You should add avatarni to gingerly oil and boil it. The oil can be used as an ear drop for relieving pain.9 Ensure you consult your Ayurvedic physician before putting anything inside your ear. 

Also Read: How to Get Water Out of Your Ear: Safe and Effective Methods Explored

5. Ajwain  

Ajwain (in Hindi) is also known as Yavani (Ayurveda), oma (Kannada), Jain (Assamese) and Yamani (Bengali). It helps in dealing with ear pain. For the remedy, you need to take a few ajwain seeds, add a few cloves of garlic, and boil it in a little bit of sesame oil. The oil should be boiled until the ingredients become red. The oil should then be filtered and applied as drops in the ear.9 Kindly consult a physician before putting anything inside your ear. 

Also read: How To Safely Drain Fluid From Your Middle Ear At Home

6. Til (Sesame)  

Til is also known as sesame or gingelly oil seeds in English. Ayurvedic use of this seed ranges wide for the management of various conditions. Til is used as a home remedy for the management of earache. It softens the ear wax, thus helping to keep the ear clean. A little bit of til oil should be warmed along with a few crushed garlic cloves. A few drops of lukewarm oil can be applied to the ear externally to relieve earache.9 You should consult your doctor before putting anything inside your ear. 

7. Hot or Cold Compress  

You can use a hot or cold pack for compression over your ear to relieve ear pain. There is no exact temperature to be maintained, so you can use a cold or hot temperature that you are comfortable with. Just ensure that you wrap the hot or cold object you’re using for compression in a towel so that it’s not too hot or too cold. Every 10 minutes, you can try alternating the hot and warm compress. Please be cautious while taking a hot compress, as it can burn your skin if the compress is too hot.7    

Check out – Liveasy Ortho Care Reusable Hot And Cold Gel Pack

8. Altering Sleeping Position  

Decreasing the pressure on the ear can reduce your ear pain. You can try resting your head on pillows (two or more) and keeping your head in a higher position than your body. You should also avoid sleeping on the side of the affected ear. For example, if your right ear has an infection, you should try sleeping on your left side. Altering your sleeping position can help relieve your ear pain by reducing the pressure in the ear.7  

Garlic has strong antibacterial properties that fight bacterial infection and thus, provide relief from ear pain. It also acts as anti-inflammatory agent that aids in clearing ear wax that block the drainage of the fluids. However consulting an ENT specialist is must .

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD(Pediatrics)

When to Seek Medical Help? 

It is advised that you seek medical help if: 

  • Fever, pain and irritability do not go away in one or two days.1    
  • You had a severe earache, and it suddenly stopped. It could mean that the eardrum has ruptured.1    
  • Your pain persists or gets worse.  
  • You notice a discharge from your ears.    
  • You are unsure about what to do and are worried.10  
  • Your child has the following symptoms along with ear pain:  
  • Headache  
  • Weakness in muscles of the face    
  • Dizziness    
  • Swelling around the ear    
  • High fever    
  • Is sick and doesn’t get better1  

Also Read: Glue Ear: Understanding Its Causes and Research-Based Management Options  

Conclusion: 

Sharp or dull pain in one or both the ears can be due to fluid build-up in the ear tubes. This increased pressure might be the cause of earache. It can occur in children as well as in adults. The pain can be due to various reasons like swimmer’s ear, otitis media, pain in the tooth, arthritis of the jaw or temporomandibular joint syndrome. The pain usually goes away on its own. However, you can try a few home remedies like garlic, ginger, tulsi, and hot or cold compress to relieve the pain. If you feel like the pain doesn’t subside, gets worse, or if your severe pain suddenly disappears, you should visit a doctor and get yourself checked. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Can ear pain occur in both the ears?  

Yes, ear pain can occur either in one or both ears. The pain can be sharp or dull for a short or long time.1  

My child has swelling around the ear and severe ear pain. What should I do?  

You should take your child to a doctor immediately; they will prescribe medications to treat the condition.1  

Does an ear infection always result in hearing loss?  

No. Ear infection rarely causes hearing loss. In most cases, children might experience temporary hearing loss after an ear infection, which goes away. However, in repeated ear infections, the hearing loss can be long-lasting.1 

Can we apply toothpaste to the ear to heal ear infections and pain?  

No. There is no evidence of toothpaste healing ear infections or ear pain. You should always consult your doctor before putting anything in your ear. 

Can a hot compress be used for earache?  

Yes, a hot compress can relieve earache. Therefore, it can be used as a home remedy for earaches. Make sure that you wrap the desirable object in a towel before using it for compression, as objects too hot can cause the skin to burn.7 

Does the swimmer’s ear only develop in swimmers?  

No. Swimmer’s ear doesn’t occur only in swimmers; it can also occur in others. Swimmer’s ear is the common name of the condition called otitis externa. It occurs commonly in teenagers and young adults and can occur due to an infection of the respiratory system, like a cold or middle ear infection. Swimming in water containing bacteria can cause this condition.2 

What are the common causes of ear pain?

Ear pain can have various causes, including ear infections, sinus infections, dental issues, allergies, foreign objects in the ear, earwax buildup and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. It can also result from throat infections or referred pain from nearby structures.

Is it safe to use ear drops for ear pain relief?

Ear drops can be safe and effective for relieving certain types of ear pain, especially if recommended by a healthcare professional. However, it’s crucial to follow the instructions carefully and avoid using ear drops if there is a possibility of a ruptured eardrum or if the ear pain is severe.

How can I alleviate ear pain at home?

Home remedies for ear pain relief include applying a warm compress, using over-the-counter pain relievers (following label instructions), keeping the head elevated while resting and avoiding inserting objects into the ear canal. However, if the pain persists or worsens, it is essential to seek medical attention.

Is ear pain associated with aeroplane travel?

Yes, some people may experience ear pain or discomfort during aeroplane travel, particularly during takeoff and landing. This is due to changes in air pressure that affect the middle ear. Chewing gum, swallowing, or yawning can help equalize pressure and alleviate ear discomfort.

Can sinusitis lead to ear pain?

Yes, sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinuses, can cause ear pain. The sinuses and the ears are connected by the Eustachian tubes. When the sinuses are congested or inflamed, it can affect the Eustachian tubes, leading to ear pressure and pain.

References:  

1. Earache [Internet]. MedlinePlus. 2019 [cited 2022 May 30]. p. 1–5. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003046.htm 

2. Swimmer ‘ s ear [Internet]. MedlinePlus. [cited 2022 May 30]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000622.htm 

3. Ear Infections [Internet]. MedlinePlus. [cited 2022 May 30]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/earinfections.html 

4. Malignant otitis externa [Internet]. MedlinePlus. [cited 2022 May 30]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000672.htm 

5. Uzun L, Dal T, Kalcioglu MT, Yurek M, Cibali Acikgoz Z, Durmaz R. Antimicrobial Activity of Garlic Derivatives on Common Causative Microorganisms of the External Ear Canal and Chronic Middle Ear Infections. Turkish Arch Otorhinolaryngol [Internet]. 2019;57(4):161–5. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7032553/ 

6. Bode AM, Dong Z. The amazing and mighty ginger [Internet]. Benzie I, Wachtel-galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects: Second Edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. 131–156 p. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/ 

7. 3 Home Remedies for an Ear Infection [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 May 30]. Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/3-home-remedies-for-an-ear-infection/ 

8. Jamshidi N, Cohen MM. The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Evidence-based Complement Altern Med [Internet]. 2017;2017. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5376420/ 

9. AYUSH. Ayurveda Offering Herbal Healing [Internet]. 1–128 p. Available from: https://www.esic.nic.in/attachments/publicationfile/7d11b02e5abb4717d53b4ce05efabd21.pdf 

10. Earache treatments [Internet]. healthdirect. [cited 2022 Jun 8]. Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/earache 

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