Home Remedies for Ear Infections
Instead of putting yourself in harm’s way, try these natural remedies that may combat ear infections:
•Garlic — This vegetable contains natural antimicrobial and pain-relieving properties.9 If you have an ear infection, you can eat two to three raw garlic cloves daily, or try making garlic ear drops that may assist in relieving ear infection pain. Crush a clove of fresh raw garlic and dissolve it in high-quality olive oil. Put a few drops of the oil in your ear canal, as long as the ear drum isn’t perforated.
•Breast milk — Breast milk contains natural antibodies that may assist in speeding up healing, decreasing swelling and clearing the infection. It’s also safer to use and less expensive compared to antibiotics. Every three to four hours, put two to three drops of breast milk in the ear canal.
•Coconut oil — You can place a few drops of coconut oil into the ear canal, as the oil’s antiviral and antimicrobial properties can help combat the agent responsible for the infection. If the oil has solidified, liquefy it by putting a small amount into a shot glass or small container, and place the container into a cup of hot water.
•Onion — A warm onion poultice applied behind the ear can be helpful in moving the post-auricular lymph chain and vasculature, and assist in moving congestion away from the inflamed area in the middle ear.
To make an onion poultice, heat half an onion in a toaster oven for a few minutes, until it’s warm but not intolerably hot. Check the temperature by applying the onion to your own ear or inner forearm for several seconds. Once the onion is ready, wrap it in a cheesecloth or thin dishcloth. Apply the largest side or the cut side to the area behind the ear.
You can also utilize onion juice to address an ear infection. Chop a small onion and heat in a microwave for one to two minutes. Once the onion has cooled, strain the liquid and place a few drops in one ear. Leave the onion juice inside the ear for around 10 minutes and then turn your head to drain the liquid out. Repeat the procedure with the other ear.
Another remedy that may help address an ear infection is hydrogen peroxide. If you experience earache or painful ear infection symptoms, you may place a few drops of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide into each ear to help ease the symptoms.
Before trying any of these natural remedies, consult your doctor so you may know how to utilize these treatments properly and avoid side effects. More importantly, never put substances in the ear canal if you suspect that your eardrum is either ruptured or contains a small hole. The fluids or substances can drain through the hole, damage delicate bones behind the eardrum and possibly lead to permanent hearing loss.
Other Treatment Methods to Consider if You Have an Ear Infection
You can also consider these other treatment protocols, which don’t involve taking harmful antibiotics or pain medications, to help address ear infections:
- Massage techniques or yawning — These assist in opening Eustachian tubes and promoting the flow of fluid outward from the middle ear.
- Sleeping sitting up — This can help decrease pressure on the eardrum, where most pain occurs because of a fluid buildup.10
- Gargling with salt water or apple cider vinegar (ACV) — Gargling with salt water may assist in loosening up the thick fluid in the Eustachian tube and eliminating viruses residing in the back of your throat. This may shorten the duration of a viral infection in your body.11 Meanwhile, gargling with ACV can help people with infections triggered by a fungus.12
- Hot or cold packs — Both hot and ice cold packs may be utilized to help combat ear pain, and is safe for both children and adults. You can try placing an ice pack over the ear first, and then switching to a warm compress after 20 minutes, or vice versa.13 If you prefer to use only one item, you may do so.14
You can also consult a chiropractor if you suspect you have an ear infection. Many (but not all) chiropractors have been trained in facilitating adjustments that can help open up the Eustachian tube, permit it to properly drain, alleviate pressure buildup and promote an environment that can prompt the infection to leave the body.
Watchful Waiting for Ear Infections
Apart from the short watchful waiting period mentioned above, there’s another form of watchful waiting doctors can utilize. In this situation, a child is usually monitored for the first three months. Usually, otitis media with effusion (OME) goes away even without treatment.
After this period, patients with OME cases lasting longer than three months may be required to undergo a hearing test. Interventions may not be necessary, and the doctor can just reevaluate the child at periodic intervals to see if they are at risk for hearing loss. However, even if some infections occur for more than three months, they typically resolve on their own without triggering long-term language or development effects.15
If you’re looking for a natural way to address ear infections, you can consider trying essential oils. These oils possess properties that assist with combating viral and bacterial infections, alleviating pain and promoting healing. Some essential oils work like an antibiotic, eliminating harmful bacteria strains.1
Top Essential Oils for Ear Infections and How to Use Them Properly
The following essential oils have been renowned for their potential to address ear infections:2
|Tea tree oil|
|How Does It Work? A chemical compound called terpinen-4-ol in tea tree oil has been shown to kill bacteria it interacts with, making this oil possibly more effective compared to other antibacterial cleaning agents.3 A November 2004 American Journal of Infection Control article also highlighted that tea tree oil was utilized in Australia for thousands of years to address infections, including those in the middle ear.4How to Use? Dilute tea tree oil in a carrier oil like olive, jojoba, coconut and almond oil, and dab the mixture onto a cotton ball. Take the cotton ball and apply it to the outer ear and hold it over the ear canal. Do not force the cotton ball in. Note: Do not take tea tree oil internally because it can be toxic and lead to inflammation of the ear canal.|
|How Does It Work? A 2005 animal study revealed that basil oil helped heal 56 to 81 percent of rats with an ear infection caused by the Haemophilus influenzae virus. This oil also assisted in treating rats with pneumococci-caused infections.5 Basil oil’s antiviral and anti-inflammatory compounds may assist in these benefits. However, you only need a small amount of oil since it can be quite potent.6How to Use? Combine five to six drops of basil oil with a carrier oil and soak a cotton ball into the mixture. Take the cotton ball and hold it over the ear canal to allow the aromatic compounds to target the infection. Avoid pushing the cotton ball into the ear canal.|
|How Does It Work? Oregano oil has antibacterial and antiviral properties that may make it an effective remedy for ear infections. This essential oil may assist with enhancing the immune system and addressing inflammation in the respiratory tracts and ear canal.7How to Use? Dilute a few drops of oregano oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil, and topically apply the mixture to the outer ear.|
|How Does It Work? Rosemary oil can assist in neutralizing bacterial infections that can trigger pain in the middle ear, and help soothe a sinus infection that may be the cause of a patient’s discomfort.8How to Use? Rosemary oil can be mixed with lavender or eucalyptus oil and applied to the throat, neck, and up and under the ears. Rosemary oil may be rapidly absorbed by the skin, work on inflammation in those areas and aid in reducing pain.|
|How Does It Work? Despite not being technically an essential oil, olive oil may help people with ear infections because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.9 Olive oil is known to assist in relieving blockage in the sinuses. This may unplug the Eustachian tubes and cause fluid to drain.How to Use? Add four to five drops of warmed olive oil directly to the ear canal and hold the oil there for a few minutes. Once done, flush and clean the ear gently with a bit of warm water.|
|How Does It Work? Thymol, an active ingredient in thyme oil, possesses powerful antibacterial and antioxidant capabilities.10 Thymol may assist in alleviating pressure and pain in the middle ear and combat the infection present in the respiratory system.How to Use? Blend thyme oil with a carrier oil and topically apply the mixture on the outer ear, or rub on the throat, glands and neck.|
|How Does It Work? Mustard oil is known to have strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.11 A drawback about this essential oil, however, is its tendency to negatively affect people with sensitive skin.How to Use? Dilute mustard oil with a carrier oil (five drops of mustard to a tablespoon of carrier oil). Gently apply the blend to the outside of the ear and allow it to soak into the skin. Because of mustard oil’s potency, exercise caution when using this essential oil, especially when using near the ear canal.|
|How Does It Work? Lavender oil has been proven to be effective at addressing infections. This essential oil helps raise blood circulation and speed up healing, decreases infection-caused inflammation and targets pressure in the sinus cavities.12How to Use? Try placing lavender essential oil on your pillow at night, inhale directly from the bottle or topically apply it to the outer ear.|
|How Does It Work? Eucalyptus oil can assist in alleviating inflammation in the Eustachian tube and ending the blockage that’s causing fluid build-up. As a result, the fluid may drain from the tubes and allow the infection to leave the body.13How to Use? You may apply undiluted eucalyptus oil on the throat and neck. This may allow the body to soak and address inflammation in the respiratory system. Patients can inhale this essential oil via steam inhalation or by using a room diffuser.|