Ear infections are caused by bacteria or viruses in the middle ear. Ear infections occur more often in children than adults. Some causes and contributing factors that lead to ear infections are wax buildup, upper respiratory infections, food allergies, environmental allergies, fetal alcohol syndrome, genetics, nutritional deficiencies and internal injuries. Some common signs that someone is suffering from an ear infection are pain in the ear, tugging at the ear, difficulty sleeping, headache, poor response to sounds, high fever, fluid draining from the ear, vomiting, diarrhea and so on.
The ear is made up of three parts: outer, middle and inner.
Each part has specific functions that help a person hear. You can see in the diagram that the outer ear which shape like a leaf captures the traveling sound waves. In the outer part of our ear, there is a section called as pinna and through this section the sound waves enter into the ear canal. Through the ear canal the sound waves reach the eardrum which is located in the middle part. In addition, the middle section of the ear also has other important ear organs like hammer, anvil, stir up, semicircular, and middle canal. Through the canal, sound waves travel to the inner section of our ear. In the inner part of the ear, there are important ear parts like cochlea, Eustachian tube, and nerves. Sound waves from the canal are sent to the nerves so that the brain can process the sound. After that we are able to recognize the sound and understand it.
An ear infection can occur in any of the three parts. Inner ear infections are the most serious. It is important to treat an ear infection to prevent complications, including damaging or rupturing the ear drum. Untreated ear infections can also lead to chronic recurrence and can even cause deafness! It is important to consult a doctor, but for immediate relief you can try some natural treatments. There are many time-honored, simple and easy home remedies that can help to get rid of the pain and other symptoms of an ear infection.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for an ear infection.
Salt is probably the most readily available home remedy.
- Heat up one cup of salt on a pan over low heat for a few minutes. You can also heat it in a microwave or double-boiler.
- Place the hot salt on a cloth and seal the open end with rubber band (or tie a knot).
- When it is bearably hot, lay down and put the cloth on the affected ear for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Repeat this remedy daily as many times as needed. The heat generated from the sock will help draw out fluid from the ear and relieve swelling and pain.
As an alternative, you can use one cup of rice in the same manner described above.
Garlic has antimicrobial properties and natural pain relieving qualities, making it highly effective in the treatment of ear infections. There are a few ways to use garlic as a home treatment.
- Make garlic oil by cooking two garlic cloves in two tablespoons of sesame oil or mustard oil until it turns blackish. Strain the solution. When it is bearably hot, use two to four drops of this oil in the infected ear as ear drops.
- Alternatively, you can also boil two or three fresh garlic cloves in water for five minutes, then crush them and add some salt. Put the mixture in a clean cloth and place it against the affected ear.
- Consuming two to three cloves of raw garlic daily also helps speed up the healing process.
You can also use holy basil to treat minor earache and ear infections. It can relieve ear pain as well as reduce infection.
- Crush four to five fresh holy basil leaves gently to extract the juice. Apply the basil juice on or around the infected ear. Avoid getting the juice in the ear canal.
- You can also mix a few drops of holy basil oil with an equal amount of carrier oil like coconut oil. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and gently wipe just inside the ear, around the outer edge and behind the ear. Repeat the process twice daily.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
To get rid of the fungus that may be causing the ear infection, apple cider vinegar is a good option.
- Mix one part apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water or alcohol. Soak a cotton ball in the solution.
- Put the cotton ball in your ear like a plug and leave it for about five minutes.
- Remove the cotton ball and lay down on your opposite side to drain the liquid from the ear. Use a hair dryer to dry your ear as much as possible.
If apple cider vinegar is not available, you can use white vinegar. If the cause of the ear infection is in the Eustachian tubes, try gargling with apple cider vinegar.
5. Olive Oil
One of the main causes of an ear infection is wax in the ear catching some fungal or bacterial growth leading to a blockage in the Eustachian tubes. You can easily clear the obstruction with the help of olive oil.
- Warm some olive oil slightly. Put a few drops of the warm oil into the infected ear.
- The oil will cause the wax to soften. Remove the infected wax with cotton-tipped swabs. Be careful not to put the swab too far in the ear or you might damage the eardrum.
Alternatively, you can also use mustard oil.
6. Warm Water Bottle
As soon as possible, apply some heat to the infected ear. This will quickly relieve some of the pain and will also prevent micro-organism infestation.
- Press a warm water bottle or heating pad against the ear.
- You can also use a warm compress. Dip a clean washcloth in lukewarm water, ring out the excess water and then place the washcloth on the infected ear.
- Do not apply heat to the ear for long periods of time. Start with five minutes, remove the heat for a while and then repeat the process as needed.