It doesn’t matter how old you are – earaches hurt. And since most earaches are not the result of a bacterial infection, antibiotics won’t help get you better.
But you don’t have to take a wait-and-see approach.
There are several earache treatment methods that can help to reduce your symptoms, including the pain and swelling you’re experiencing.
Best Method for Soothing an Earache Quickly
To alleviate any pain, doctors often recommend using a warm compress, which can help to loosen congestion and ease any discomfort.
Creating a warm compress is simple. Just soak a washcloth in warm water, wring out excess water, fold it, and place it on the affected ear for 10 to 15 minutes. But be careful, as an overly hot washcloth could cause a burn.
You can also create a warm compress from a heating pad or warmed gel pack. Wrap a towel around your heating pad, set it to a low setting, and place it on top of the sore ear.
To be safe, you can also use a towel with a warmed gel pack.
Other Home Remedies for Earaches
If a warm compress doesn’t do the trick, there are other home remedies for an ear infection.
Depending on the cause of your earache, certain methods will be more effective at providing relief, as they’re designed to get to the root of why you’re having ear pain.
- Steam – Does your little one have an earache that’s making them fussy? They might not sit still long enough for a warm compress to have an impact. Steam from a humidifier, shower or bath can have the same effect as a warm compress. It helps to open and relax airways, thus reducing ear pressure and easing pain.
- Sleeping Upright – Ear discomfort from viral infections is often the result of fluid buildup in the middle ear. Draining this fluid can help to relief pain. Rather than sleeping lying down, try sleeping in an upright position, either propped up with a couple pillows or in an armchair that’s reclined a bit.
- Gargling with Saltwater – An earache is sometimes associated with a sore throat, and gargling with saltwater can help ease your symptoms. Simply mix a 1 to 5 ratio of salt to warm water, then gargle, spit out, and repeat. If you have a sore throat, warm liquids like honey and lemon tea or a broth soup can provide some relief.
- Essential Oils – Many essential oils have antibacterial or antiviral properties which help to kill bacteria or prevent viruses from reproducing. Tea tree oil, oregano oil, basil oil, and garlic oil, in particular, are known to alleviate ear pain. Try mixing a couple drops of essential oil with a couple drops of olive oil and placing them directly inside the ear. You can also soak a cotton ball in essential oil and put it on the opening of the ear to let the essential oil seep in.
- Onion – For centuries, moms have sworn by the curative power of onions. While there is no scientific evidence behind their effectiveness, onions do contain chemicals, like flavonoid quercetin, that have anti-inflammatory properties which can help with ear swelling. To help heal an earache, place a couple drops of onion juice in the affected ear or half of an onion on top of the affected ear.
- Hydrogen Peroxide Mixture – Spending time at the pool in the summer can help to cool you off, but too much time in the water can result in swimmer’s ear. To get rid of water trapped in the ear, you can make hydrogen peroxide earache drops from a 1 to 1 ratio of peroxide to water and use a dropper to put the liquid into your ear. Combining equal parts vinegar and rubbing alcohol can have the same effect. Both combinations help provide earache relief by drying out the ear and getting rid of excess moisture.
- Chewing Gum – If you’ve just been on a plane or scuba diving, you might experience ear pain from changes in air pressure. Chewing gum can help to “pop” your ears and help to reduce any pain or pressure you’re experiencing.
Earache Remedies for Kids
Since children are especially prone to ear infections, given smaller eustachian tubes, there are some medications on the market specifically for earaches in kids. Drugstores sell pain-relieving eardrops that can help your child feel better if their earache is due to a cold or flu, swimmer’s ear, or allergies.
In addition, children’s formula acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used as earache remedies to help ease discomfort from inflammation in kids 6 months or older. Be sure to consult your child’s pediatrician before giving NSAIDs and avoid aspirin for children under 16.
When to Come into GoHealth Urgent Care
Most earaches will go away in a few days. But if it doesn’t get better, or symptoms worsen in 24 to 48 hours, it’s time to visit a GoHealth Urgent Care center.
Other reasons to seek medical advice include:
- Pus-like fluid or blood oozing from the ear
- A high fever (for children, a temperature over 100.4°)
- Headache and dizziness
- Swelling behind the ear (especially if you’re experiencing facial weakness)
- An object might be stuck in your ear and needs to be removed
- Severe ear pain that suddenly stops (which could be a sign of a ruptured eardrum)
Healthcare professionals at our centers regularly see and treat earaches and ear infections. Just use the dropdown below to save your spot online – or you can walk in to the GoHealth Urgent Care nearest you.
Preventing an Earache Before It Starts
Want to protect against ear infections in the first place? Your surest bet is to prevent the spread of germs that can lead to infection.
Make sure your child receives (in addition to all recommended vaccines) the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), since pneumococcal bacteria is the most common cause of an ear infection.
Also, breastfeeding for at least 6 months has shown to boost the baby’s immune system, helping to prevent sickness.
More generally to prevent earaches, you should keep your home smoke-free and practice healthy everyday habits like handwashing.
These methods will not only protect against ear infections but a whole host of illnesses you and your family are much better without!