Home remedies for ear infections

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Although ear infections are more common in children, people of any age can get them.

Because ear infections often clear up on their own, healthcare providers are hesitant to turn directly to antibiotics as the first course of treatment, unless the infection is severe, the child is very young, or there are other extenuating circumstances. .

Because of this, many people turn to home remedies for ear infections. Many of the home remedy recommendations, often passed from one person to another by word of mouth, are not supported by scientific evidence and may even be harmful. Before trying them, it is important to evaluate the accuracy and safety of the recommendations for home remedies for ear infections. And, as always, when in doubt, consult your doctor.

IAN HOUTON / PHOTO SCIENTIFIC LIBRARY / Getty Images

Ice pack

You can use ready-made ice packs or make an ice pack or cold pack at home.

How to make an ice towel:

  1. Dampen a towel with cold water and squeeze out excess moisture.
  2. Fold the towel.
  3. Place the folded towel in a sealed airtight bag, such as a Ziploc freezer bag.
  4. Place the sealed bag in the freezer for 15 minutes.

How to make an ice pack or cold pack

  1. Place the ice cubes in a sealed airtight bag, such as a Ziploc bag.
  2. Partially fill with water.
  3. Close the bag by pushing the air out.
  4. Wrap the bag in a damp towel.

How to use it

Apply it to the affected ear for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Some people benefit from alternating hot and cold compresses.

It helps you?

Cold compresses do not cure an ear infection, but they can ease an earache.

Cold can cause numbness and reduce inflammation.

Warnings

Never apply ice or cold compresses directly to the skin , as this can damage the tissues. Wrap it in a towel, paper towel, or other suitable barrier before applying it to the skin.

Remember the temperature and the time. To avoid damage such as frostbite, do not overcool the compress and never leave it on for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Heat compress

Commercial heating packs or heating pads can be used, or heating packs can be made at home.

To make a homemade heat compress, simply moisten a towel with warm water and squeeze out the excess.

How to use it

Apply a warm compress or heating pad to the affected ear for no more than 20 minutes at a time.

Hot compresses can also be alternated with cold ones.

It helps you?

Heat packs increase blood circulation to this area. Like cold compresses, warm compresses will not cure an ear infection, but they can relieve pain.

Warnings

Be very careful not to burn yourself, especially when applying heating pads to children.

Make sure the heating pad or compress is not too hot and do not apply it for more than 20 minutes at a time.

When using a heating pad or similar device, do not apply it directly to the skin and leave it on for 20 minutes or less. Never sleep with a heating pad and always supervise the child who uses it.

Thermal compresses are not recommended for babies.

Over-the-counter pain relievers

Over-the- counter (OTC) medications are the most recommended remedy for earache and fever that sometimes accompanies ear infections.

For babies older than 2 months : Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be prescribed if the doctor agrees.

Fever in babies

If a baby is less than 3 months old, the temperature of the rectum or forehead (temporal artery) is 100.4 F (38 C) or higher, you should go to the emergency department, even if you have no other symptoms.

For babies 6 months and older, toddlers and older children : Possible acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).

For adults : Acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen (Aleve) can help. Aspirin or naproxen should not be given to children unless directed by a doctor.

How to use them

The dose, type and frequency of doses depend on the type of medicine, age, weight and other mitigating factors of the person, such as medical history.

If a child is younger than 2 years old or has never taken this medicine before, contact their healthcare professional before giving it to them.

For children and adults, carefully follow the directions on the packaging.

It helps you?

Over-the-counter medications can be very effective for pain and / or fever.

They do not cure an ear infection, but they can make you feel more comfortable while your body fights the infection.

In addition to relieving pain and fever, NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen) can help reduce inflammation.

Warnings

Babies younger than 6 months who show symptoms of an ear infection should see a doctor before starting any treatment.

Read all instructions before giving medicine to children or taking it yourself. When dosing children by weight, make sure you have an up-to-date and accurate weight calculation for them.

Before taking over-the-counter medications, check for interactions with other medications you are taking.

If you notice any side effects, see your doctor.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can be used alone or in over-the-counter ear drops, usually to remove excess wax or to treat or prevent swimmer's ear (ear canal infection).

How to use it

  1. Put about half a dropper with 3% hydrogen peroxide solution in the ear canal.
  2. Let it bubble and hiss.
  3. Allow it to drain properly by turning your head to the side and pulling on the top of your ear.
  4. Use drip drying or a hair dryer to remove trapped moisture in your ear.

If you use over-the-counter drops, follow the directions on the label.

It helps you?

Clean your ears with hydrogen peroxide from time to time to prevent bacteria from entering the ear canals and accumulating earwax . It can help prevent infection, but it does not cure a middle ear infection because it cannot reach the middle ear.

The only way to get to the middle ear infection is through a hole in the eardrum, in which case it is not safe to use hydrogen peroxide.

Warnings

Do not use if tympanic membrane perforation is suspected.

Garlic

Garlic has become a subject of research for its potential health benefits. There is no consensus in the current study regarding its effectiveness, but some studies show promising results depending on how it is used.

Raw garlic

Freshly minced raw garlic has shown promise as an antimicrobial agent, in part due to its protective molecule called allicin .

Allicin, at least in vitro (outside of a living organism), has been shown to have strong antimicrobial properties. Animal studies show that it can also help fight infection within the body. But more research is needed, especially in humans.

Some research suggests that garlic supplements can reduce the incidence and / or duration of the common cold, a common cause of ear infections. But these studies are small and more research is needed.

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Do not put garlic or foreign objects in your ear.

Garlic oil

Garlic oil has antimicrobial properties and is sometimes recommended as ear drops for ear infections.

This is not recommended as it will not reach the source of infection behind the eardrum if there is no opening in the eardrum. If the eardrum is perforated, garlic oil has not yet been shown to be safe for the middle ear.

Garlic can interact with certain medications

Garlic supplements should not be taken with drugs carried by P-gp. This includes:

  • Colchicine
  • Digoxin
  • Doxorubicin [adriamycin]
  • Quinidine
  • Rosuvastatin [Crestor]
  • Tacrolimus [Program]
  • Verapamil

Due to the increased risk of bleeding associated with garlic supplements, talk to your doctor about their use if you are taking an anticoagulant (blood thinner) such as warfarin (Coumadin), or if you need surgery.

Garlic supplements can interfere with the effectiveness of saquinavir (a medicine used to treat HIV infection) and other medicines, dietary herbs, or supplements.

Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, including garlic.

Ginger

Ginger is a root that is commonly used as a condiment in food and is believed to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

How to use it

Ginger juice or ginger oil can be applied to the outer ear. Don't put ginger in your ear.

It helps you?

Ginger has been used as a remedy for generations and appears to have several health benefits, but these results are mostly observational and anecdotal. Studies have been done, especially in animals, but without conclusive, conclusive results.

More research is needed on the health benefits of ginger taken by mouth and applied to the skin.

Warnings

Do not put ginger, ginger juice, ginger oil, or any other form of ginger in your ear.

While ginger is considered largely safe, it is best to consult a doctor before using or consuming it outside of our regular use as a food spice.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is obtained from the evergreen leaves of the Australian tree Melaleuca alternifolia.

How to use it

Tea tree oil is used topically to relieve skin conditions and can be added to a bath or vaporizer (if recommended by the manufacturer) to help with lung problems.

It should never be taken internally or placed in the ears.

It helps you?

While tea tree oil appears to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, it is not safe for use in the ears and should not be used to treat ear infections.

Warnings

Tea tree oil is toxic if ingested and should be kept out of the reach of children and pets.

Allergic rashes caused by tea tree oil are possible, so it is recommended to test a small area before use.

Do not insert it into your ear, as this can damage the inner ear.

Apple vinager

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple cider juice. Some studies show that it has antibacterial properties.

How to use it

  1. Mix equal parts warm water and apple cider vinegar or equal parts isopropyl alcohol and apple cider vinegar.
  2. Using a dropper, add a few (five to 10) drops into the affected ear, tilting the head to keep the mixture in the ear.
  3. Leave the mixture in your ear for five minutes before draining.

It helps you?

Due to its antibacterial properties, it can help with an outer ear infection, such as swimmer's ear, but it won't help with a middle ear infection .

Warnings

Do not use it for middle ear infections.

Do not use if your ears have tubules, a perforated eardrum, or you are suspected of having one.

Breast milk

Breastfeeding transfers infection-fighting agents from parent to child, but the amount of these agents varies.

One study found that after the first to two weeks after birth, the number of white blood cells found in breast milk is low when both the breastfeeding parent and the baby are healthy.

The number of leukocytes in breast milk increased significantly if the nursing father and / or the baby were infected . The increase was greater when the father had an infection than the baby, especially if the infection was in the breast (mastitis).

Breastfed babies are less likely to develop ear infections than bottle-fed babies. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months and continuous breastfeeding for at least one year for a number of reasons, including reducing the risk of ear infections.

When to see a doctor

Consult your doctor if:

  • A baby younger than 6 months has a high fever (even as the only symptom) or signs of an ear infection.
  • Symptoms do not improve in 2-3 days.
  • Symptoms get worse.
  • The symptoms are severe.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Temperature 102.2 F (39 C) or higher.
  • Pus, discharge, or fluid comes out of the ear.
  • Severe pain stops suddenly (may mean a ruptured eardrum).
  • Swelling behind the ear
  • New symptoms appear (especially severe headache, dizziness, swelling around the ear, or spasms of the facial muscles).
  • You think you need medical attention.

Seek immediate medical attention if:

  • A baby younger than 3 months old has a temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher.
  • Fever over 104 F (40 C).
  • There is a stiff neck .
  • The child is lethargic, looks or is very ill, or will not stop crying despite your best efforts.
  • The child walks unstable / is physically very weak.
  • Signs of weakness appear on the face (for example, a crooked smile).
  • Blood or pus leaks from the ear.
  • The earache is very severe.
  • You think you need immediate medical attention.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to see a doctor for an ear infection?

Most middle ear infections are fought off by the body in a few days without treatment. If the ear infection does not require antibiotics, no additional treatment is necessary. But some home remedies can help calm and relieve symptoms.

How to get rid of earache quickly?

The most effective treatment for earache is with over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). Adults can also try aspirin or naproxen (Aleve), but neither should be given to children unless directed by a doctor.

Get the word of drug information

Although antibiotics are sometimes needed for ear infections, especially in children younger than 2 years old, ear infections usually clear up on their own within a few days.

Various home remedies can be helpful in relieving symptoms while your ears heal. However, others are unproven or possibly harmful.

Always check with your healthcare provider before starting treatment for yourself or your child, and never put anything in your ear or your child's ear unless directed to do so by the healthcare provider.

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