If you've ever experienced an ear infection or an earache, you know how annoying and uncomfortable it can be. While most ear infections aren’t serious issues and can resolve quickly, there are several useful home remedies you can use to ease your discomfort and speed up recovery. Explore tips to address your ear infections and earaches at home and learn how you can help prevent them in the future.
In most cases, ear infections occur in the middle ear or the space behind the eardrum. Ear infections don’t occur on their own. In most cases, the middle ear becomes inflamed when another illness, such as a cold, the flu or allergies, causes congestion and swelling of the nose, throat and eustachian tubes.
These tubes, which run from the middle ear to the back of the throat, regulate air pressure and drain fluid from the middle ear. When they become swollen, fluid builds up in the middle ear and can become infected. While ear infections can happen at any age, children are more likely to experience ear problems; their eustachian tubes are narrower and more horizontal, making it more difficult to drain fluid from the ears.
While some ear infection cases warrant a visit to your doctor, these conditions often don’t need extensive medical care and can be solved with some simple home remedies for ear infections and natural remedies for earaches. Implementing these home remedies for earache or infection can provide some much-needed relief for patients of any age.
Whether your ear infection requires a doctor’s visit and you need some relief until you can see a doctor, or you’re just looking for quick relief, these home remedies for ear infections in adults and kids can provide a necessary stopgap measure for dealing with ear infection symptoms. Here are some home remedies for earache that could help ease your condition:
One simple home remedy for ear infections is using a warm compress. How to use a compress on your ears:
This process can be repeated as often as necessary. This method is also a safe and useful home remedy for ear infections in kids.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are one of the quickest home remedies for ear infections in adults and kids. They can be a helpful tool in easing the pain, fever or inflammation that causes ear infections. Prior to taking any OTC medications, consult with a doctor or pharmacist if you are currently taking any additional medications. Most pain relief medications are safe to use if also taking antibiotics, but review the dosage labels prior to taking the medication.
Be sure not to give children aspirin as a pain reliever, as it may put them at risk for Reye’s syndrome. Before your child takes any new medication, speak with your doctor to determine proper usage.
To address the illnesses causing the ear infection itself, simply resting or sleeping can be a great way to strengthen the immune system to fight the virus or bacteria. However, be sure that you’re sleeping properly to protect your infected ear.
How to protect your ear:
Hydrogen peroxide can be a useful home remedy for ear infections in adults if used carefully and correctly.
How to use hydrogen peroxide:
While it can be a useful solution to clean your ears, hydrogen peroxide must be handled carefully to ensure that it helps rather than hurts. This procedure shouldn’t be repeated too frequently and only in small doses; too much hydrogen peroxide can cause irritation, pain and inflammation to the sensitive skin and parts of the ear.
Hydrogen peroxide should not be used if there’s a hole in the eardrum, as it can be painful and cause damage to the inner ear. Be sure to fully drain the ear after using hydrogen peroxide to prevent buildup in the ear.
Known for effectively treating inflammation in the body, saltwater could also be a useful home remedy for ear infections by addressing inflammation.
How to do a saltwater gargle
Be sure to never put salt water in or near the ear.
While numerous home remedies can provide meaningful symptom relief, there are several that should be avoided entirely. Using these methods can mean greater pain in the short term and even cause significant damage to the inner ear.
Before using any home remedies, consult with a hearing care professional to learn if the method would be effective in treating your symptoms.
Home remedies can be useful tools in addressing most ear infections in the short term, but if your condition persists, it might be time to see your doctor.
When to go to a doctor for ear infections:
Your doctor will be able to review your medication and medical history to locate the cause of your ear infection, as well as offer suggestions on what the best approach might be to properly handle your symptoms.
If your doctor determines that you are experiencing an ear infection due to bacteria, they will likely prescribe antibiotics to treat your condition. This medication is an effective way to clear up bacterial infections and can help prevent the existing infection from spreading throughout the body.
Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections, not viral infections. In fact, if you have a viral ear infection, taking antibiotics can make your infection worse and potentially make the medicine less effective at fighting bacteria in the body. Speak with a doctor before taking any antibiotics to review your condition and ensure that the medication you’re taking will help your body heal.
To determine whether antibiotics are an appropriate course of treatment, your doctor will consider the following factors:
Through your course of antibiotics, your doctor will monitor your symptoms and determine the next steps as necessary to treat the condition.
While ear infections can’t be prevented, there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe from the illness-causing viruses or bacteria that lead to the infections. Here’s how to prevent ear infections in babies and adults:
Ear infections happen, but there are ways to alleviate the pain that they cause and lessen their duration. If you have questions about ear infections and how they can affect your overall hearing health, book an appointment at your local Miracle-Ear to learn more.