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Last modified on December 3rd, 2022
Natural Remedies for Ear Infections: Quick Shopping List
How It Helps
Antibacterial and antiviral
Tea tree oil
Soothing and antibacterial
Stops pain and inflammation
Antiviral and antibacterial properties
Hyland's Homeopathic Ear Drops
Soothing pain and irritation relief
Pain and inflammation relief
Below, we explore some of the best home remedy ear infection ideas that you can use to deal with the symptoms of this uncomfortable condition quickly.
Home Remedy Ear Infection #1: Hydrogen Peroxide
My personal go-to when I’m feeling the symptoms of an ear infection is hydrogen peroxide.
You can use peroxide on its own, or you can also find it in ear drops that are available over the counter.
When you use hydrogen peroxide in your ears, it can help prevent the buildup of ear wax, and it can eliminate bacteria in your ear canals.
Using peroxide in your ears is generally safe, but you need to follow dosage instructions.
If you use concentrations of more than 10%, it can cause skin irritation or rashes. If you overuse peroxide in your ears, it can also lead to inflammation and pain, so make sure you’re using it only when you need it and not using a product that’s too highly concentrated.
Choose a three-percent peroxide solution instead.
Use a medicine dropper and put a small amount of the peroxide in it. Tilt your head to one side, and add two to three drops in your ear.
Keep your head tilted, and stay like this for four to five minutes.
You’ll hear fizzing in your ear as the peroxide dissolves the wax. You can slowly turn your head onto a towel or cloth and let the remaining peroxide drain out.
Using peroxide drops won’t help a middle ear infection because it can’t reach it, but it can help other types of ear infections. If you have a perforated eardrum, don’t use peroxide.
Home Remedy Ear Infection #2: Basil Oil
Basil oil is an essential oil with properties including being anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. There are 38 compounds in basil. The two most important to help with ear infections and other infections include methyl eugenol and methyl chavicol. In one study, both were found to be effective at killing bacteria.
An animal study in 2005 found basil oil may help with ear infections.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and made from plant extracts. They’re used for a variety of purposes.
Some of these purposes have more scientific evidence to back them up than others.
Essential oils may be helpful for stress and mood, relieve pain, and help with certain gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea.
For an ear infection, you can use essential oils topically. You can also vaporize the oils.
If you’re going to use basil oil for an ear infection, or any essential oil, you should dilute it first.
To dilute an essential oil, start with a carrier oil. Add a few drops of the essential oil to the carrier oil. Coconut oil can be a good option for an ear infection because it also has antibacterial properties.
You can add the oil combination directly to the skin by using a dropper and applying the diluted mixture directly to your ear. You can also add it to a cotton ball and place that in your ear.
Don’t place basil oil or any essential oil directly on your skin without a carrier oil.
A similar oil with benefits for ear infections and bacterial growth is tea tree oil. You can use it the same way as basil oil to manage ear pain.
Home Remedy for Ear Infection #3: Garlic Oil
Garlic oil is one of the tried and true home remedies for an ear infection, according to many people.
Garlic oil has a number of beneficial properties and benefits, including:
- Garlic has antiviral properties. For example, it can combat flu viral infections and rhinovirus.
- Against many types of bacteria, garlic may be effective because of its antimicrobial properties.
- Garlic can also help the beneficial bacteria in your gut thrive.
- There are antifungal properties.
Garlic can help improve the function of your immune system. Since it may benefit the immune system, it can also reduce the frequency and severity of common illnesses, like colds.
Garlic may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improving your heart health. There are also growing links between garlic and the prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Specifically, aged garlic has antioxidants that may help reduce cognitive impairment.
When free radicals build up in your body, it causes oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can then create damage throughout your body. Supplementing with garlic may fight against this oxidative stress. It can also help reduce your risk of developing some types of cancer.
For ear infections, you have a few options for using garlic.
One thing some people do is peel a whole clove of garlic and cut off the ends. You can then wrap the garlic in gauze and put it gently into your ear opening. Don’t push it into your ear canal. Once you’ve put the gauze-wrapped clove in your ear, put a warm washcloth over it.
Another way to use garlic as a home remedy for an ear infection is finding drops or making them.
Garlic oil can’t cross your middle ear barrier, so it may not help treat the root cause of a bacterial infection, but it can provide pain relief until it gets better on its own.
Home Remedy Ear Infection #4: Mullein Leaf
Mullein is a weed with a long use in traditional and herbal medicine. Mullein is especially popular in herbal medicine for illnesses affecting the respiratory tract.
Mullein is a demulcent. A demulcent can soothe irritation and inflammation in the nose, mouth, throat, and potentially the ears, helping reduce even severe pain.
Mullein oil is especially used for ear infections. In lab tests, herbal medicine helps kill certain types of bacteria. Along with ear infections, some use it for upper respiratory tract infections, asthma, coughs, and bronchitis.
In test-tube studies, mullein helped fight flu-causing viruses.
In a 2003 study of 171 children with ear pain, the ones using ear drops with mullein had significant improvement in their pain over three days.
You can find mullein already prepared as ear drops. There are also tinctures, capsules, and powders available. If you’re looking for how to stop an earache fast in a child, these drops could be useful.
Home Remedy Ear Infection #5: Hair Dryer
If you want to figure out how to stop an earache fast, you can use a hairdryer as one of the simpler alternative therapies. Simply put it on a low but warm setting and hold it far enough away from your ear that it’s not going to get too hot. Let the warm air gently blow into your ear canal.
Home Remedy Ear Infection #6: Hyland’s Homeopathic Earache Drops
Whether it’s home remedies for ear infections in adults or children, homeopathic herbal eardrops can work well and quickly. Hyland’s has one of the most popular homeopathic ear drops for pain and infection, and they’re pretty easy to find at major retailers.
These ear drops can help with fever, pain, and sleeplessness. They’re easy to take and don’t contain aspirin or acetaminophen. These homeopathic earache drops don’t have sugar, artificial flavors, parabens, or dyes, and there are no known side effects.
Along with being helpful for a viral or bacterial ear infection, they can also help with swimmer’s ear and fluid in the ear.
To use the drops, you just add three to four to the affected ear with a clean dropper. You can use several drops of oil up to four times a day until you have ear symptom relief.
Home Remedy Ear Infection #7: Ginger
Ginger has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. You can add shredded, fresh ginger to warm olive oil. Then strain it and apply the juice around your outer ear canal. Don’t put ginger directly into your ear.
What Causes Ear Infections?
Infection is a broad term. When you have an ear infection, it can be viral or bacterial. Ear infections can occur in the middle ear. They can also happen in your inner ear or your outer ear.
Most ear infections in adults and children will clear on their own, but they do cause pain and discomfort. The pain tends to come from inflammation, fluid buildup, or both.
Symptoms of an ear infection include pain, pressure in your ear, and drainage that’s like pus. You might experience hearing loss too. You may experience symptoms in one or both ears.
Ear infection symptoms in a child include:
- Pulling or rubbing their ear
- Losing balance
- Not reacting to some sounds
- Loss of appetite
Ear infections usually last fewer than three days, but sometimes up to a week.
One of the most common causes of ear infections is a blockage of the Eustachian tube. The blockage causes fluid to build up in the middle ear.
Causes of Eustachian tube blockage can be:
- Sinus infections
- Air pressure changes
An ear infection can also develop because of an adenoid infection.
Adenoids are glands on the roof of your mouth. These glands are behind your nose. They protect you from infections. An infection can spread from the glands to the Eustachian tubes.
In children, ear infections are more common because they have narrow, short Eustachian tubes.
Treatment for Ear Infections
Most ear infections will clear up independently, but rare complications may occur, so speak to your healthcare provider or pediatrician.
Typically treatment for ear infections first involves home remedies primarily to deal with ear pain.
Along with the home remedies for infections we named above, you can also:
- Put a cloth soaked in warm water over the affected ear
- Use over-the-counter decongestants
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers
- Don’t sleep on the side that hurts or is affected
If your symptoms don’t get better, you can talk to your doctor. If the ear infection is chronic or bacterial, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics won’t treat a viral ear infection.
Treating Ear Infections in Children
Most doctors will use a watchful waiting approach when a child has an ear infection rather than immediately turning to conventional treatments.
Doctors are careful to avoid overprescribing antibiotics because of the potential risk of resistance. If the symptoms don’t clear up in a few days or are severe, the doctor may prescribe medicine.
If medical treatments aren’t helping or a child has a number of ear infections in a short period, then a doctor might talk to you about surgery.
Usually, ear tubes can be placed into a child’s ears, letting fluid drain out.
Signs You Should See a Doctor
While most ear infections will resolve on their own, you should see a doctor if:
- You or your child have a fever of more than 102
- There’s fluid, pus, or discharge leaking
- Symptoms are getting worse rather than better
- Symptoms last for more than three days
- Hearing loss
Types of Ear Infections
There are three main types of ear infections in adults and children. The types relate to the part of the ear they affect.
- An inner ear infection may actually be inflammation. If you’re having an issue with your inner ear, symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
- Middle ear infections affect the area behind your eardrum. A middle ear infection is also called otitis media. Fluid gets trapped behind your eardrum. You may have some drainage and feel like there’s fullness in your ear. A middle ear infection can impact your hearing until it gets better, and you may have a fever. Middle ear infections usually come from cold or respiratory problems.
- If you have an outer ear infection, it’s called otitis external. This type of infection may begin as a rash. Symptoms of an outer ear infection include pain, tenderness, and redness. Outer ear infections are also called swimmer’s ear because they often begin due to water being trapped in your ear. The moisture can be a place for bacteria to thrive.
Chronic Otitis Media
If your ear infection doesn’t go away entirely or reoccurs often, it is chronic.
Chronic ear infections require treatment.
Otherwise, they can lead to complications like hearing loss and eardrum damage. Symptoms of chronic Otis media include hearing loss, vertigo, and a sensation of fullness.
Boosting Your Immune System to Protect Against An Ear Infection
If you already have an ear infection and you want to get over it faster, or maybe you’re trying to avoid getting sick this year, there are things you can do to strengthen your immune system overall.
Taking a vitamin D supplement if you don’t get an adequate amount from the sun and being outdoors is one of the most important things for your immune system.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is especially important for immune system health. Having adequate vitamin D levels may help protect against respiratory illnesses and other sicknesses.
Vitamin D enhances the function of your immune cells. Your immune cells include T cells and macrophages. T cells and macrophages help activate your immune system when it encounters something that could make you sick. Low vitamin D levels are linked to a higher risk of infection, disease, and disorders related to the immune system.
Other tips to boost your immune system against ear infections or other illnesses include:
- Stay hydrated. There’s lymph which is a fluid in your circulatory system. Lymph carries immune cells around your body. When you’re dehydrated, it can slow down the movement of your lymph, which can affect your immune function.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is what’s going to give your body the strength and power it needs to combat infections.
- If you aren’t getting enough of certain vitamins and nutrients from your diet, like vitamin C, consider supplementing.
- When you have a healthy gut microbiome, it can help keep harmful pathogens from entering your body through your digestive tract. To have a healthy gut environment with plenty of beneficial bacteria, you should eat a balanced diet and consider taking a probiotic. Fermented foods are also good for your gut health and, by association, your immune system. Fermented foods include kefir, kimchi, yogurt, and sauerkraut.
- Eat healthy fats. Healthy fats such as what’s found in salmon can help reduce inflammation. Reduced inflammation can improve your immune response. Chronic inflammation can suppress the function of your immune system.
- Limit your sugar intake. When you have a lot of sugar in your diet, it can increase inflammation and weight gain, both of which can negatively affect your immune system.
- Exercise moderately. When you exercise regularly at a moderate level, it helps reduce inflammation and allows your immune cells to regenerate healthily.
- Manage your stress. It’s a stressful time right now, but if you can find healthy coping mechanisms, it will help prevent you from getting sick. When you’re psychologically stressed, it can put a lot of stress on your immune system.
- Think about taking a zinc supplement. In several reviews and studies, zinc has been shown to help reduce the duration of the common cold.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following answers some of the questions people most often have when searching for a natural remedy for an ear infection.
How Do You Cure An Ear Infection Naturally?
Along with the things we named above to help as natural remedies for an ear infection, there are other things you can do to help speed up healing.
First, you can use warm and cold compresses. Both can help relieve the pain you experience when you have an ear infection.
Another way to heal from an infection faster is to do neck exercises. With certain neck exercises, you can alleviate pressure in the ear canal. You can sit straight and then rotate your neck to the right. You want it to be parallel to your right shoulder. Hold this for five to 10 seconds. You should then repeat this on the left side.
You can also raise your shoulders like you’re trying to get them to touch your ears. Once there, hold them for five to 10 seconds.
If you see a chiropractor, you might want to visit when you have an ear infection. Chiropractic adjustments from a trusted source can help relieve muscles when they’re tight around your ear, which will then let the trapped fluid drain.
When you sleep, if you have an ear infection, try to sleep with the ear affected facing up instead of into the pillow.
What Draws Out An Ear Infection?
One way to naturally draw out an ear infection is to heat salt in a pan. Wrap the salt in a clean cloth and place the cloth against your affected ear for up to 10 minutes. This can help pull fluid out of the ear, providing some level of relief.
You can also use garlic. Boil or crush the garlic, wrap it in a clean cloth and place it against your ear.
A warm compress against the outer ear can also help draw out an ear infection.
How Do You Treat an Inner Ear Infection Without Antibiotics?
Most ear infections will clear on their own without antibiotics.
If yours doesn’t seem to be clearing up on your own, then you should speak to your doctor.
At first, you can try the natural remedies above, like using salt, warm compresses, garlic, or ginger.
Final Thoughts—Natural Remedy Ear Infection Solutions
This isn’t medical advice, and you should always speak to a health care professional if you have questions. However, doctors are increasingly reluctant to prescribe antibiotics right away for ear infections in adults or children. That may lead you to try natural remedies first, like the ones above.