Earaches have many potential causes, including infections, fluid buildup, allergic reactions, and injuries.
That said, most people agree that regardless of what caused an ear ache, when you have one, you want to get rid of it as soon as possible.
If you have frequent or chronic inner ear pain, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. You want a physician to check and see if you’re suffering from a treatable condition. In the meantime, however, the following remedies will help to alleviate your discomfort.
Use a Moist Heat
Moist heat is very effective at relieving earache pain. Warm temperatures stimulate circulation, which is key to reducing the discomfort caused by an earache. There are three basic methods for using moist heat to combat earache pain.
This simple method can bring about major relief with little effort. It’s especially ideal for ear aches related to colds or sinus infections.
Simply run a small hand or dish towel under warm water, then wring the water out until the towel is merely a little damp. Place it over your ear and keep it there until your symptoms diminish. Just make sure the water isn’t too hot, or you may end up causing yourself more pain.
For this method to work, you need to take a warm or hot shower first. After, dry off most of your body for safety, but don’t dry your ears. Instead, hold a hairdryer a foot or so away from the affected ear and use the warmth of the hairdryer to dry out your ears.
If your earache pain is fairly minor, and is essentially a symptom of an overall sinus illness, steam can help relieve your discomfort.
All you have to do is sit in the bathroom and leave the hot water from the shower or bath running. You want the water temperature to be as hot as possible, so don’t get in the shower or tub. Sit on the toilet or a chair, and close the doors.
You might also want to place a folded towel by the bottom of the door. Doing so keeps the steam in the bathroom. This could help to reduce all the major symptoms of a cold or sinus condition.
Try These Remedies Using Household Items
Very often, items you probably have around your home already can help treat an earache. Give the following methods a try:
For an Earache Caused by an Infection, Use Hydrogen Peroxide
This method for clearing out clogged ears is also useful for reducing the pain of an ear infection. Apply two to three drops of hydrogen peroxide into the affected ear, then rest for about two minutes. The hydrogen peroxide helps to break up clogs that could otherwise result in substantial pain.
After two minutes have elapsed, tilt your ear to the side and drain out the hydrogen peroxide. You may want to hold a paper towel or washcloth under your ear so nothing spills on the floor.
For an Earache Caused by a Cold, Blow Your Nose
When you have a cold or sinus illness, mucus can block the air passages. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the ear canal.
Luckily, it’s often easy to relieve this type of ear ache. Grab a few tissues and blow your nose repeatedly to clear out the nasal passages. If you’re able to remove enough mucus, your pain should diminish.
For an Earache Caused by High Elevation, Chew Gum
The next time you’re traveling on a plane—or doing anything else that involves being at a high altitude—bring along some gum. Chewing gum is surprisingly effective for treating earaches caused by high elevations.
For Ear Infections, Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an ingredient in many home remedies thanks to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
To treat an ear infection with it, mix one part apple cider vinegar with one part water, then soak a cotton ball in the mixture and place the cotton ball in your affected ear. Don’t jam it in there—the liquid will drip down far enough on its own to reach the source of the infection.
Leave the cotton ball in your ear for about five minutes, then remove it and tilt your head down to let your ear drain. As with the hydrogen peroxide remedy, you should use a paper towel to collect any drainage. Once you’ve done this, use your hairdryer to dry out your ear.
If you don’t have any apple cider vinegar on hand, you can use white vinegar and rubbing alcohol instead.
For a General Earache, Try Salt
If you’re not sure what caused your earache, try this trick: In a pan, heat five tablespoons of salt. Wait until it becomes slightly brownish in color.
Wrap the salt up in a clean cloth, and press it to your ear. Leave it there for about three to five minutes. You’ll probably have to do this a few days in a row for complete relief, but it’s a very simple trick that often works surprisingly well.
Of course, make sure the salt isn’t too hot before touching it or placing it near your ears. For your own safety, it’s a good idea to use a low burner setting when heating the salt up. Doing so will take longer, but you’ll be less likely to harm yourself.
Give These Four Amazingly Simple Remedies a Try
Sometimes, you don’t need any extra materials or items at all to reduce your earache pain. All you need is your own body:
Wiggle Your Ears
It may seem like a child’s idea of an ear ache remedy, but wiggling your ears can work. That’s because doing so can “pop” the Eustachian tubes, which often cause ear pain when they’re clogged.
Yawning is another easy way to clear the Eustachian tubes. Whenever you’re feeling general ear pain, try yawning a few times to see if it helps.
Sure, it’s not the most comfortable way to go to bed, but sleeping in an upright position may be a good idea if you’re suffering from ear pain that won’t go away. Sleeping in this position prevents further build-up of fluid in your ear canal.
Moving your jaw up and down rapidly throughout the day will clear up the ear canals. This method usually doesn’t bring about major relief right away, but over time, it will reduce your symptoms.
Try Herbal & Natural Remedies
Want strong relief from an earache without resorting to medication? Again, if your earaches are constant or extremely painful, it’s smart to see a doctor and heed their advice. If they recommend medication, use it.
Not all people need major medical treatment for their earaches, though. You might be more interested in the following herbal and natural remedies, which can alleviate your pain without any unwanted side effects:
Peppermint’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities make it ideal for treating ear aches. Some people even experience a mild anesthetic effect from using it.
Purchase or make juice from peppermint leaves, and apply two to three drops near (but not in!) the opening of the ear. Just be aware that peppermint is very strong, and applying it directly into the ear can result in further discomfort. Thus, it’s a smart idea to have someone you trust administer the drops, instead of trying to do so on your own.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is also well-known for its antibacterial properties. As such, it’s best for treating ear infections.
Start by mixing a few drops in with a tablespoon of olive oil. Warm it up slightly, then use a clean dropper to apply a few drops into the ear. As with the hydrogen peroxide and apple cider vinegar recipes, you should lay down on your side for about five minutes, then tilt your head to the other side to drain your ear out.
Basil is rich in antioxidants, and also serves as an effective antibacterial agent. To treat an earache with it, crush about five basil leaves until you have a decent amount of juice. Dab a cloth in the juice and gently wipe the outside of your ear, as well as the immediate inner portion of the ear.
This is another instance in which you want to avoid getting any of the juice inside your ear canal. If you’re not sure you can safely apply it on your own, ask a friend or family member for help.
Your ear ache may be the result of a bacterial or fungal infection that has created a buildup of wax, clogging the Eustachian tubes. Fortunately, olive oil can often break up the wax.
For this method, warm up some olive oil on low heat. As always, don’t touch it or apply it to your ears if it’s dangerously hot.
Once the olive oil is warm, pour a small amount of it into the ear. The warm oil softens the wax, making it easier to remove. Use a cotton swab to remove the softened wax.
Be gentle, though. Inserting the cotton swab too far into your ear can damage the eardrum, and contrary to popular belief, if you’re not careful, using a cotton swab can actually worsen a clogged ear; if you press too firmly, it has a “cannon-loading” effect, pushing the wax deeper into your ear.
Any sort of pain—whether it be from an ear ache, headache, or injury—often results in inflammation, which exacerbates your symptoms. That’s why ginger root is very useful for treating ear aches. It’s one of the most effective natural anti-inflammatory treatments available. Like many of the other items on this list, it also possesses antibacterial qualities.
To treat an earache, simply apply a drop of two of extracted ginger root juice into the ear and let it sit for a few minutes, before draining it out. The anti-inflammatory qualities will reduce your overall pain, while the antibacterial properties may help to eliminate the cause of your earache.
Treat an Earache on the Go
Many of the remedies listed here require you to be at home in order to try them. Of course, you won’t always be able to heat up some olive oil and drip it into your ear. Like everyone else, you’re busy.
To alleviate ear pain while you’re on the go, keep these tips in mind:
Use Over-the-Counter Pain Medicine
Some people want to stick with natural remedies when treating ear pain. Others just want something that works. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be very useful to have on hand if you’re prone to frequent earaches. Taking the safe, recommended dose can significantly reduce your overall discomfort.
Just don’t overuse them, and find out if you’re allowed to mix them with any other medicines or substances you may be consuming. Even though you can buy them without a prescription, these types of medicines can still be dangerous if not used properly.
Wrap a Warm Water Bottle
Heading out right when an earache strikes? If so, quickly heat up some water and pour it into a water bottle. Of course, make sure the water isn’t boiling hot.
Wrap the water bottle up in a small towel and hold it against your ear. While you can’t safely try this method while driving, it’s a convenient way to reduce ear pain if you’re a passenger.
Remember Essential Tips
The remedies above will help to treat an earache, but remember, there’s plenty that you can do to avoid earaches in the first place.
First, make sure there’s a lot of vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C helps prevent the kinds of infections that could otherwise result in earaches.
You should also take steps to protect your ears on windy days. Wear earmuffs or a scarf, otherwise contaminants that might cause an infection or allergic reaction could enter your ears.
After showers, dry your ears thoroughly. Even if you’re not suffering from an ear ache, you could benefit from drying them with a hairdryer after each shower.
Most importantly, seek medical help if your earaches are frequent and painful. These remedies can help you reduce pain, but they’re no substitute for medical treatment when you need it.