Sweet Oil and Other Home Remedies for Painful Ear Infections

Updated on October 5, 2016
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Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently studying lab sciences. She enjoys researching various health topics and writing about her findings.

Ear infections refer to middle ear inflammations that are generally caused by bacteria. They occur when there is high fluid buildup at the back of the eardrum. An ear infection usually starts following a respiratory infection (upper) such as a cold or sore throat. If the cause of the said respiratory infection (upper) is bacteria, the same microbe can find its way into the middle ear. On the other hand, if virus is the cause of the respiratory infection (upper), bacteria may find the environment inside the middle ear hospitable. This encourages the bacteria to spread within and cause a secondary infection in the middle ear. Fluid accumulates behind the eardrum as a result of the infection.

Ear infections are commonly suffered by youngsters, but they can affect people of any age. Either the outer or ear canal can become infected. Infections are most common the middle ear but they are most dangerous in the inner ear, in a small space behind the tympanic membrane. Left untreated, these infections can cause chronic conditions or complications, including damage to the eardrum and hearing loss.

Complications are rare when it comes to ear infections, but there is always that possibility that they will arise. A number of ear problems can take place such as the following:

  • Rupture (bursting) of the eardrum: The eardrum can rupture or burst as a result of continuous fluid buildup inside the middle ear. A small hole is left when this happens, which usually heals in a span of two weeks.
  • Difficulty in hearing: As a result of an ear infection, a person may experience trouble with hearing. The hearing problem is usually mild/moderate and temporary. Some kids might find it difficult to learn to talk as well as understand speech if they repeatedly have ear infections.
  • Ongoing middle ear inflammation: Also referred to as suppurative otitis media (chronic), this acute ear infection complication's major symptom is repeat or chronic pus drainage. The pus drains through the eardrum's tiny hole. A number of kids who have ongoing middle ear inflammations experience some loss of hearing. The treatment for the said condition usually involves antibiotic therapy.
  • For repeat ear infections, the following complications can develop: Damage to the middle ear's tiny bones; mastoiditis (inflammation of the bone found behind the ear); and cholesteatoma (growth of tissue at the back of the eardrum), which may require surgery, especially if the tissue growth is large enough to obstruct the middle ear as well as affect hearing.
  • One of the rare complications of ear infections is meningitis, in which the tissues that surround the spinal cord and brain are inflamed.

It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are some home remedies that might offer some relief.

Types of Ear Infections

Otitis Media (AOM) (Latin for "inflammation of the middle ear") which may be triggered by either a bacterial or a viral infection. This is a painful condition but can be cured with antibiotics. Symptoms include ear pain, fever, and irritability in children.

How does otitis media (AOM) occur?
Between the middle part of the ear and behind the throat runs a tube called the Eustachian tube. Otitis media (AOM) occurs when this tube becomes blocked or swollen, resulting in fluid being trapped inside the middle ear. The fluid trapped is prone to infection. Because young kids' Eustachian tubes are more horizontal and shorter compared to those of adults and older kids, they are more prone to becoming infected.

Swelling or blockage of the Eustachian tube can be brought about by the following:

  • A cold
  • A sinus infection
  • Allergies
  • The flu
  • Enlarged or infected adenoids
  • Drinking in a lying position (in newborn babies)
  • Cigarette smoke

Otitis Media with Effusion (OME), sometimes called "glue ear," is condition in which mucous collects in the middle ear. OME can occur as a result of a cold, throat infection, exposure to cigarette smoke, or allergic reaction. The middle ear space fills with mucus which becomes infected by bacteria. This type of infection is more common than AOM and is usually not painful. They usually go away on their own.

What causes otitis media with effusion (OME)?
The ear's inside part and the part behind the throat is connected by the Eustachian tube, which allows fluid to drain instead of accumulating in the ear. The said fluid, which drains from the Eustachian tube, is then swallowed.

There are two ways in which ear infections and otitis media with effusion (OME) are connected:

  1. Once an ear infection has been treated, an effusion is left behind for days or weeks inside the middle ear.
  2. Fluid accumulated inside the middle ear when there is partial blockage of the Eustachian tube. This leads to bacteria getting trapped inside the ear, where it starts growing and may cause an infection.

The Eustachian tube can get swollen, which cause the amount of fluid in the ear to increase, due to the following reasons:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Cigarette smoke and other irritants
  • Allergies

Meanwhile, the Eustachian can either become blocked or close because of the following reasons:

  • Descending on a road on a mountain or in an airplane, which causes air pressure to suddenly increase
  • Lying on one's back while drinking

The last type, Otitis Externa, also known as swimmer's ear, occurs when a person spends a long period of time in water, especially polluted water, but may also result from water becoming trapped in the ear canal after a shower. In some cases it may be caused by a combination of heat, moisture (water or sweat), and local trauma (scratching). It's usually a bacterial infection, but sometimes it is fungal and can be treated with antibiotic, corticosteroid, antifungal, or acidic ear drops, depending on which kind of infection is found.

The common causes of otitis externa include the following:

  • Bacterial infection that is usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Fungal infection that is caused by Candida albicans or Aspergillus
  • Middle ear infection in which a deep infection's discharge can result in otitis externa
  • Allergic reaction or irritation due to swear, hair cleaning products, ear plugs, and ear medications
  • Seborrhoeic dermatitis affecting the ears, causing them to become inflamed and irritated

Otitis externa can also be triggered by the following factors:

  • Too much moisture: Excessive liquid in the ear canal makes one more susceptible to developing an infection since moisture provides a hospitable environment for bacterial and fungal growth. The risk of having excessive moisture in the ear can increase when sweating, swimming in dirty water, or exposed to humid surroundings.
  • Ear damage: The sensitive ear canal can become damaged by the following: Excessive cleaning; scratching inside the ears, inserting cotton buds, using hearing aids, and wearing in-ear headphones or ear plugs for a long period of time.
  • Chemicals: The likelihood of getting otitis externa increases with the use of products such as earwax softeners, hair dyes, and hair sprays.
  • Skin conditions: Acne, psoriasis, and eczema are underlying skin conditions that increase one's likelihood of getting otitis externa.
  • Allergic conditions: Asthma, allergic rhinitis, and other allergic conditions place an individual at a higher risk of getting otitis externa.
  • Weak immune system: The development of otitis externa becomes more likely if one has diabetes, has AIDS or HIV, or is undergoing chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. These conditions cause the immune system to weaken.

Each type of ear infection has similar signs and symptoms, but each possesses traits that differentiate it from the others:

AOM usually involves significant pain, fluid draining from the ears, fever, headache, dull hearing and difficulty balancing.

For infants and kids, the following symptoms may be observed:

  • Irritability
  • Crying
  • Pulling on the ears
  • Sleeplessness
  • Headache
  • Ear pain
  • Neck pain
  • Feeling of fullness inside the ear
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear fluid drainage
  • Lack of balance
  • Loss of hearing

OME causes hearing difficulties (because the ear is blocked with fluid). There may be no pain involved.

Loss of hearing is the most common symptom of glue ear, a condition in which one ear or both are affected.

Signs that a child is finding it difficult to hear include:

  • Speaking quietly
  • Easily tuning out of conversations when he or she gets distracted
  • Having trouble understanding people who are distant
  • Being able to only understand conversations that are done face-to-face and at a close range
  • Having problems conversing in areas where there is plenty of background noise
  • Experiencing problems with learning, communication, and social skills
  • Appearing unusually irritable or tired

It is also important to watch out for less common glue ear symptoms such as:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Mild ear pain episodes
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Clumsiness and other problems with balance
  • Irritability
  • Delayed development of language and speech in younger kids

OE presents with the symptoms of AOM plus a feeling of fluid in the ear.

Symptoms of otitis externa (OE) include the following:

  • Pain in the ear
  • Feeling of fullness and pressure inside the ear
  • Scaly, peeling skin around and in the ear canal
  • Swelling and redness of ear canal and outer ear
  • Irritation and itching in and around the ear canal
  • Sore and swollen glands in the throat
  • Feeling of tenderness when the ear or jaw is moved
  • Ear discharge (thin and watery/thick and similar to pus
  • Some loss of hearing

In the case of chronic otitis externa, which can persist for months or years, the following symptoms can be observed:

  • Constant itching around and in the ear canal
  • Absence of earwax
  • Thin and watery ear discharge
  • Pain and discomfort in the ear that worsens when the ear is moved
  • Accumulation of dry and thick skin in the ear canal (stenosis), resulting in a narrowed ear canal and affected hearing

The inner, middle, and outer ear.
The inner, middle, and outer ear.

General Treatment Advice

Ear infections are a minor health condition that usually cause no adverse effects if treated properly. A diagnosis requires observing the inside of the ear. In some cases, the infection will go away on its own within 2-3 days, without medication. If pain is severe, over-the-counter pain relievers may be used. If medication is required to get rid of the infection, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

Diagnosing an Ear Infection

  • Otoscope: In some cases, ear pain is likely caused by an ear infection if it is accompanied by a runny or stuffy nose as well as fever and a sore throat. During checkup, the doctor will use an instrument referred to as an otoscope to look for signs of ear infection (in the case of a fussy baby, this is a difficult task). The doctor might also use another instrument called a pneumatic otoscope to blow air into the eardrum and check for any blockage in the middle ear. If there is nothing wrong with the eardrum, the air will move back and forth. If there is fluid in the eardrum, the latter will not readily move.
  • Tympanometry: This is another ear infection test, in which air pressure and sound are utilized in checking for signs of fluid inside the middle ear. An audiologist may be called in to carry out a hearing test; the result will be used in determining if there is loss of hearing.
  • Eardrum fluid: If a person is extremely ill, the doctor may decide to make a tiny hole in the eardrum. From this opening, he will then take a fluid sample from inside the middle ear. The said fluid sample is then cultured in the laboratory and studied for possible complications.

Treatment Options for Ear Infections
Most doctors who treat ear infections have a single treatment goal: To eliminate any infection of the middle ear so that the more serious complications are prevented from setting in. Ear infection treatment generally involves getting rid of the causes of said infection as well as killing any bacteria present in the affected ear's Eustachian tube.

  • A virus is often the cause of ear infections. In this case, all a doctor can offer to the patient is relief from the symptoms of the infection. The doctor may prescribe a pain reliever (ibuprofen or acetaminophen) to help in easing the ear pain as well as manage a fever that accompanies the ear infection. In children who have ear infections, keep in mind that aspirin is not an option due to a link to Reye's syndrome. A heating pad's gentle heat can also be used to reduce ear pain, although care must be taken when using it on children.
  • There are times when, even with the help of an otoscope, a doctor is unable to diagnose whether the cause of an ear infection is a bacteria or a virus. In this case, choosing the right course of ear infection treatment may be a bit difficult.

To Use Or Not To Use: Antibiotics as Part of an Ear Infection Treatment Course
There had been a debate during the 90's (when bacteria has been observed to develop resistance to antibiotics) over the use of antibiotics in the treatment of middle ear infections. A number of doctors had opted to initially treat ear infection symptoms without the aid of bacteria-killing drugs. But a greater number of doctors had expressed their concern regarding antibiotics-free treatment options.

  • Without the help of antibiotics, bacteria present in the middle ear may grow at a rapid rate, resulting in mastoiditis or loss of hearing. Such complications, the doctors have pointed out, became rare due to antibiotic therapy. This is what had prompted many doctors to treat all infections of the ear as though bacteria are the culprit.
  • For the treatment of bacterial infections, the preferred antibiotic is amoxicillin, which is so effective that a single course is enough to resolve an ear infection within just one week to ten days. The problem is that a number of bacterial strains have developed resistance to amoxicillin. Antibiotic-use critics have pointed out that this phenomenon was a result of using amoxicillin in treating ear infections that were not originally caused by bacteria.
  • If serious complications arise from an ear infection, or if fluid lingers inside the ear for over three months, doctors may encourage their patients to undergo a procedure referred to as myringotomy with pressure equalizing tube insertion surgery. This is done to allow the middle ear to drain or to eliminate any infection. A small tube that is barely half-inch in length is inserted in the eardrum so that more air is able to enter the Eustachian tube, which allows the eardrum to ventilate as well as dry out. The inserted tube (it naturally falls out in one year) keeps the eardrum's hole opened. This ensures that air can reach the middle ear so that is can dry out. A ventilation tube not only reduces ear pain but also reduces the number of infections in children as well as improves hearing. Scarring or infection hardly follows the procedure and provides good results in the long term. In case ear infections return after the tubes are no longer in place, the doctor may recommend inserting another set of tubes along with adenoidectomy (a procedure involving the removal of adenoids). The procedure attempts to unblock the ear's Eustachian tube in a major way as well as prevent the possibility of inserting still another set of tubes.

A normal vs. an infected ear.
A normal vs. an infected ear.

A Sweet Oil Home Remedy

Experiencing ear aches due to ear infections is enough to induce either a baby or a grown man to cry out miserably in the night. Fortunately, there are different home remedies you can rely on to help you relieve the pain and treat an ear infection.

One home remedy is sweet oil, which is made of olive and/or almond oils. This treat has been used for many years in many cultures. Throughout history, olive oil has been used to treat mild ear infections caused by irritants or earwax build-up. People with narrow ear canals or chronic ear infections may find that sweet oil helps prevent flare-ups. This treatment is a good first step in the treatment of earaches. Olive oil contains natural antioxidants, flavonoids, amino acids, and vitamins E and A, among others. Unlike other plant oils that lose their health benefits after being processed, olive oil is able to retain its vitamins and antioxidants. This is because no nutrient-draining treatment (like heating) is required to extract it.

There are still some warnings and cautions for its use:

  1. Do not use sweet oil if you have a punctured eardrum.
  2. You should know that while putting warm, sweet oil in the ear can soothe an earache, clear the canal, and help with dermal abrasion, it does not cure the infection itself. If your earache has already evolved into an infection, you'll still need to see the doctor.
  3. It is important to make sure that there is no discharge or dripping pus from the infected ear when using sweet oil to treat ear pain.
  4. You need to test the sweet oil's temperature first before applying to the affected ear. It should not be too warm or hot. Otherwise, the oil may burn the ear. For this reason, it would be wise to test the temperature of the sweet oil against your inner wrist.
  5. It is best to avoid the use of cotton swabs when applying sweet oil to an ear infection. Any wax inside the ear could be impacted by the cotton swab, which can result in more ear complications. Try keeping the oil inside the ear by using a clean cotton ball instead.
  6. Remember that using sweet as a home remedy for ear infections has been discouraged by some doctors, as the oil may keep them from seeing the eardrum clearly during checkup.

How to Use Sweet Oil

Follow these steps in using sweet oil to treat an ear infection at home:

Purchasing the sweet oil:

  1. Purchase sweet oil at the drugstore. Sweet oil is usually sold in small bottles. (Keep in mind that sweet oil is unrefined, making it unsuitable for cooking.)
  2. You may also purchase sweet oil at health food stores. Make sure to store it in a dry and cool place at home to keep it from spoiling.
  3. Purchase a glass dropper bottle as well. Choose one that comes in a dark green, blue, or brown color. This will help in preserving the nutrients as well as medicinal properties of the sweet oil. Make sure to sterilize the glass bottle and dropper; boil them in water for about ten minutes and then air-dry before use.

Preparing and applying the sweet oil:

  1. Gently heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan. Do this for only a few moments, just long enough to make the oil warm, but not hot, to the touch.
  2. Using a dropper, apply two to three drops of the warm oil in the affected ear. To keep the oil from running out, put a cotton ball in your ear to block it and catch any oil that escapes.
  3. Lie down for ten to fifteen minutes. Keep your head turned so that the infected ear is facing upward. This helps ensure that the oil penetrates the ear and does its job of relieving the pain.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the ear pain goes away.

Tips to keep in mind:

  • Placing liquids in the affected ear should be avoided if it seems that the eardrum has been ruptured. And if the ear infection is not resolved even after a number of treatments, consult a doctor immediately.
  • You may use a heating pad (at low setting) to the affected ear (filled with cotton) so that the sweet oil is kept warm. But avoid sleeping with the heating pad still turned on. It is also best not to apply heat on the ears for long periods. Try heating the affected ear for five minutes; let cool for several minutes before repeating the process.
  • You can add mustard, almond, coconut, or garlic oils to the olive oil to enhance antimicrobial properties.

Other Home Remedies

  • Warmth is an excellent pain reliever. A warm compress, hot water bottle, or a plastic bag filled with not-too-hot water will do the trick in relieving pain.
  • Several drops of eucalyptus oil or some Vicks ointment in a pan of steaming water, put a towel over your head to catch the steam, and inhale through your nose. The steam will help loosen and drain the fluids in your ear and help clear the Eustachian tubes.
  • Put a cup of salt into a clean sock, tie closed, and heat it in the microwave for a minute or so, until it's just hot enough. Lie down on your side with the afflicted ear up, lay the sock over your ear, and relax for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat as needed. The heat and salt will help draw out the fluid inside your ear.
  • You may also try heating a cup of salt on low in a pan or a double-boiler for a couple of minutes. Fill a clean cloth with the heated salt, then secure with a rubber band or simply tie into a knot. Once the heat becomes bearable, lie down and place the salt-filled cloth on the ear for about five to ten minutes. Do this every day as often as needed. Alternatively, you may use a cup of rice instead of salt and get the same results (relieved pain and swelling).
  • Dice about a quarter of an onion, put the pieces in a small glass bowl, microwave for a minute or two, then dab your clean fingertips in the onion juice and apply some of the juice to your ear.
  • Bake an onion for about thirty minutes before cutting into two pieces. Then use a cotton cloth to wrap one baked onion piece before placing on the affected ear. Leave it on for a minimum of five minutes. Repeat the process as needed.
  • Heat a small pan on medium before adding about two tablespoons of mustard oil or sesame oil. Add two garlic cloves and cook for a few minutes or until they turn blackish. Strain the prepared garlic oil. Once the heat is bearable, take 2 to 4 drops of garlic oil and apply on the affected ear as you would apply ear drops.
  • You might also consider boiling 2 to 3 garlic cloves (fresh) in water for about five minutes before crushing them. Add a teaspoon of salt and then transfer the mixture into a cloth. Tie the end of the cloth into a knot before placing against the infected ear. Alternatively, you may eat 2 to 3 garlic cloves (raw) every day to ensure faster healing.
  • Breast milk may also be used as a home remedy for ear infections. Apply a few breast milk drops in the affected ear canal every one to two hours. This safe and inexpensive alternative to antibiotics will help clear up the ear infection within one to two days.
  • With its antimicrobial as well as antiviral properties, you can also count on coconut oil as an effective ear infection remedy. Simply apply a couple of coconut oil drops inside the ear canal. If using solidified coconut oil, melt it first by outing inside a shot glass and then immersing it in a glass filled with hot water.
  • Basil is another home remedy you can use to treat ear infections. To relieve ear pain and reduce infection, you can apply basil juice on the affected ear. You can extract the juice from the basil by simply crushing about 4 to 5 holy basil leaves (fresh). Without getting the juice reach the ear canal, apply it on the affected ear. Alternatively, you can combine several drops of basil oil with the same amount of coconut oil or another carrier oil. You can then dip a cotton ball into the basil-coconut oil mixture. Once soaked, gently wipe the cotton ball behind the ear, around the outer ear, and inside the ear. Do this process two times a day, every day.
  • Apple cider vinegar is effective in getting rid of fungus that could be causing an ear infection. Take one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar as well as one tablespoon of alcohol or water. Mix well, and then allow a clean cotton ball to soak up the mixture. Place the soaked cotton ball in the affected ear. Leave it on like an earplug for five minutes before removing the cotton ball. Lie on the side opposite the affected ear and let the liquid from the ear drain. To help dry the ear further, you can use a hair blower. Alternatively, you can use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar.
  • Because of its natural antiseptic properties, tea tree oil is worth considering as an effective home remedy for ear infections. You can either apply a few tea tree oil drops on the affected ear, or combine it with a few drops of coconut oil first before rubbing on the entire outer ear.
  • You can use lavender oil to relieve ear pain as well as treat an ear infection. Take a couple of drops of high-quality lavender oil and rub behind the affected ear, making sure to gently rub along the jaw as well.
  • You can easily make your own mullein drops to use in treating ear infections. Place one teaspoonful of mullein flowers in a small bowl. Add some boiling water (1/2 cup) and let stand to cool. You can then combine one tablespoon each of the prepared mullein tea and olive oil. Allow the mixture to stand overnight before applying one drop of it to the infected ear.
  • Hydrogen peroxide also works great in the treatment of ear infections since it has natural antibacterial properties. You can make a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide and one part warm water, and then use this solution to clean the affected ear. This home remedy is effective in providing soothing relief to painful ear infections.
  • Try using herbs like goldenseal and Echinacea for treating an ear infection. These herbs have the ability to cleanse the body's internal systems and ward off infections of the ear. Simply mix the herbs with boiling water, then gradually drink the mixture thrice daily.
  • You can also give ginger root a try. With its powerful anti-inflammatory properties (due to the gingerols it contains) as well as antibacterial properties, ginger root has the ability to remedy ear infections. You can extract the juice from the ginger root and place it on the infected ear. You might also try mixing ginger root (freshly grated, 1 teaspoon) with olive oil (extra virgin, 2 tablespoons); after letting the mixture stand for ten minutes, place a few drops on the affected ear.
  • The oil and leaves of peppermint have natural antibacterial, anesthetic, and anti-inflammatory properties that enable them to treat an ear infection. You can extract the juice of fresh peppermint leaves, and then simply use a clean dropper to apply the juice on the infected ear. You might also use peppermint oil; just make sure that the oil has no direct contact with the inside part of the ear.
  • Radish has its uses both on the dining table (as a salad ingredient) and as an ear infection treatment. Make sure to have radish on hand for when you need to have a remedy for inflammation and pain due to ear infections as well as dehydration, fever, constipation, and high blood pressure. Simply combine one teaspoon of grated radish with two tablespoons of mustard oil. Heat the mixture on low for ten minutes before filtering out the radish pieces. Transfer the oil into a glass bottle, and then use a clean dropper to get two to three drops of the prepared radish oil. Drop into the infected ear and repeat until ear pain is relieved.
  • Mango leaf juice is another effective home remedy for ear infections. Get a few mango leaves and crush or grind so that the juice is extracted. Place the extracted juice in a small pan and heat on low for two minutes or until warm. Apply two to three drops of the warm oil on the affected ear using a clean dropper. Let the oil remain on the ear for about five minutes or until the ear pain is relieved. Repeat the process three times a day to ensure getting the ear infection healed.
  • Ear infection-causing microorganisms find white vinegar's acidity toxic. To help prevent microorganisms from growing and reproducing inside the ear canal, place three to four drops of white vinegar in the affected ear. Allow the white vinegar to penetrate the ear canal by lying on your side and plugging the ear with a clean cotton ball. Do this three times a day. Alternatively, you may combine equal parts white vinegar and warm water or hydrogen peroxide, then drop a few drops of the solution in the infected ear. Lie on the side after plugging a cotton ball into the ear.
  • You can also count on a gentle massage to treat the pain caused by ear infections, especially if the infection is a result of water being trapped in the ear. You can use pain balms in massaging the painful area of the affected ear as well as the part of the face near it. You will gradually notice the pain and the infection being gradually reduced.
  • Plenty of rest is also an important home remedy to try in the treatment of ear infections. Rest enables your body to recover from an ear infection, especially when a fever accompanies it.
  • Hydration is also important when treating an ear infection at home. Make sure to drink extra fluids (at least 2.2 liters for women and at least 3 liters for men).
  • Some ear infections may not feel painful at all. To relieve the stuffed-up feeling that a painless ear infection brings, you can consider the Valsalva's Maneuver: Breathe deeply while keeping your mouth closed. Pinch your nose and then blow gently (otherwise, you will risk damaging the eardrum) while it is shut. This maneuver should make you feel your ears “pop.”
  • To help drain a child's infected ear, you can elevate his or her mattress by placing a pillow underneath it. Avoid putting a pillow directly under his or her head.
  • A sensible diet plan will help heal as well as prevent ear infections. Include anti-inflammatory ginger in soups, teas, or juices or eat with carrots or apples. Spice up your meals with turmeric; you will benefit from its antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. Consume zinc-, vitamin A-, and vitamin C-rich foods to give your immune system a boost. Drink lots of water to ensure thinner ear secretions and more effective draining.

Recovery Tips

Aside from resting at home within 1 to 2 weeks, you can do the following to ensure faster recovery from an ear infection:

  1. Follow a healthy diet plan. This ensures that your body gets all the nutrients it needs for maximizing recovery.
  2. Practice proper hygiene. Keep your hands from touching the infected ear and make sure to wash both hands with water and soap on a regular basis.
  3. When showering, bathing, or washing the hair, remember to protect the affected ear from the water by inserting with a clean ear plug made of cotton wool. It helps if you smear the ear plug with a bit of petroleum jelly.
  4. Until the ear infection has completely resolved, it is best to avoid water sports or swimming.
  5. It helps to put a piece of clean cotton wool inside the infected ear so that any discharge is collected. Do not forget to change the cotton wool on a regular basis.
  6. Avoid inserting matchsticks, cotton buds, or any items inside the ear canal. Let the affected ear clear itself by natural means.
  7. See the doctor if you notice some mucus remaining in the infected ear for one to two weeks. Besides dulling your hearing, the mucus might cause repeated ear infections, which can lead to permanent loss of hearing.
  8. To make a child with an ear infection feel better, you can give him or her pain relievers such as acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory medicines (non-steroidal). Pain relievers can help your child settle before bedtime.
  9. Make sure to follow the instructions on all medicine labels, especially when giving medicine to a child or baby. Follow the doctor's recommended amount.
  10. Never give aspirin to a child or anyone who is nineteen years old and below. This could lead to a serious illness called the Reye syndrome.

Prevention Tips

While using home remedies to treat an infection is effective, it always helps to take steps to avoid having ear infections in the first place.

  • Drink lots of water every day.
  • Eat more greens and other fresh vegetables.
  • Eliminate or reduce your consumption of processed foods. You may be able to prevent chronic ear infections by simply choosing real food over processed food. Dairy products and processed grains may cause chemical reactions in the body that could result in ear infections (switch to cultured and raw dairy, and sourdough bread). It also helps to steer clear of artificial food coloring, preservatives, enhancers (like monosodium glutamate), and flavorings.
  • Make sure to chew gum when on an airplane or going up in elevation.
  • Cover your ears with your hands or by wearing a scarf when going outside on a windy day.
  • Do not forget to apply mineral oil on the outside of the ears before swimming.
  • Dry your ears after taking a shower by using a blow dryer.
  • Avoid drinking excessively.
  • Stop smoking. Avoid passive smoking as well as air pollution.
  • Avoid using combs or towels used by a person suffering from an ear infection.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Take the necessary precautions in preventing allergies, common cold, and respiratory problems.
  • Remind kids to stay away from people who are suffering from ear infections.
  • Cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Consult your doctor about pneumococcal vaccinations and flu shots, which help in preventing ear infections.
  • Avoid bacteria-spreading and ear infection-causing pacifiers.
  • Use a cotton swab to regularly clean the outside of the ears.
  • Apply a few hydrogen peroxide drops to the ears to remove excess fluids as well as kill infection.
  • Consume probiotic foods and drinks for healthy digestion.
  • Remember to yawn - this opens up the ear's Eustachian tubes.

Child Protection Tips

It is important to take steps in reducing a child's risk of getting ear infections. This is due to the fact that children are more prone to getting their ears infected compared to adults.

  1. Limit your child's exposure to secondhand smoke. Studies have found a strong link between ear infections in children and cigarette smoke exposure.
  2. A smaller setting may be best for your child when it comes to deciding on his care. More germs, which means more colds, will be there for your son or daughter to catch if there are lots of children in a room. Ear infections are not contagious in nature, but the respiratory illnesses (upper) that result in ear infections are. Your child is also even more exposed to bacteria that are resistant to drugs when many of the other children might be taking plenty of antibiotics.
  3. Make sure to breastfeed your child for a minimum of six months. Breast milk has been found to provide a boost to the immune system as well as give protection to children who are prone to getting ear infections. A study has suggested that said protection is in place long after the child no longer breastfeeds.
  4. Do away with using pacifiers. They are notorious for introducing bacteria into a baby's mouth, from which the bacteria then find their way to the ear. A study has pointed out that giving a pacifier to a child only during his or her bedtime and naptime reduced his or her chance of getting their ears infected by thirty-three percent.
  5. Make sure to hold your baby in the upright position when bottle-feeding him or her. If the baby is laid flat on his or her back while drinking milk from a bottle, the pumped breast milk (or formula) can accumulate in the mouth. The liquid can then travel to the middle ear, where an infection may occur. It would be best to go with breastfeeding your child: Milk is kept from pooling in the mouth since the nipple is positioned far back in the baby's mouth. The flow of breast milk is also slower and more controlled than that which is consumed from a bottle.
  6. Learn all there is to know about having your child immunized against ear infections. Prevnar, a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, was introduced to children in 2000 to aid in fighting the most common pneumococcus strains that cause not just a serious infection like meningitis but also up to fifty percent of ear infections due to bacteria. Studies have reported a reduction (by up to twenty percent) in visits to the doctor to have an ear infection checked and treated since the Prevnar vaccine became available.
  7. It is important to realize that your child's symptoms of ear infection may actually be symptoms of another health condition, such as cutting teeth. Once your baby learns to tug on his or her ear, you might think that it is a symptom of ear infection. But cutting teeth will also have your child do the exact tug-on-the-ear thing. As the back teeth's nerves start branching out toward the middle ear, your child feels pain around his ear. If a fever accompanies the pain and your child finds lying down extremely uncomfortable, then the culprit may be an ear infection.

Have You Tried Sweet Oil for Ear Infection?

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What's your opinion?

Has sweet oil been an effective treatment for ear infections, for you?

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    • profile image


      2 weeks ago

      Curious can you still put sweet oil into a kid’s ear infection if they have had tubes put in like a month ago??? Hope someone answers this for me soon.. :)

    • profile image


      19 months ago

      Hello , I have 3 kids and my oldest had afew ear infections . My hubby told me something I would have never ever thought of because it sounded to me gross but my daughter has never had another ear infection again. He told me to use urine from her and put 2-3 drops in as it is warm soothing and has its own healing medicine. His dad did it with him and he has never had another infection either, so give it a try.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Here the post is ear health. In this post author advice us how we protect our ear.

    • Sgt Prepper profile image

      Gunny Cracker 

      2 years ago from Elkhorn, WI

      Since boyhood I have had excess earwax build-up which becomes hard, dry plugs called beezors. My mother used to warm Sweet Oil from the drugstore to treat it. I have had beezors removed through irrigation by medical professionals numerous times.

      The beezors cause temporary hearingloss and sometimes ringing or other odd noises. I believe they are caused by dehydration and sleeping on my stomach routinely. Haven't been to a doctor for it in many years now because of home remedies. I tried the candling method once with marginal results. Baby oil and olive oil also work to soften the beezors. Laying on my side I drop six or more drops of oil into the plugged ear so gravity pulls it down into the canal. After it soaks in about ten minutes I carefully add at least six drops of hydrogen peroxide and it really goes to work.

      Afterwards when I shower I jetstream the very warm water nozzle directly into my ear for a good twenty seconds. Usually the wax build-up is liquified by this point and drains out, but often a plug of dry wax a quarter-inch in diameter pops out. It is like a whole new world then and I hear great. It also helps to pull the outer top of the ear straight out away from your head during any of these procedures.

    • profile image

      Lea R 

      3 years ago

      You can still find it at Wal-Mart for about $4. I went to Walgreens and Cvs and no one knew what I was talking about. I then tried Wal-Mart. I'm actually using it right now because I have an earache. I've had excessive earwax issues for years and never had problems, til now. Hope this helps

    • healthbooklet profile imageAUTHOR

      Sree Lakshmi 

      3 years ago

      Hi Lisa sc

      Sweet oil is still available and you can buy it online from the product link mentioned in the post :)

    • Lisa Sc profile image

      Lisa Sc 

      3 years ago

      They use to sell this sweet oil at Walgreens several years ago but you can't find it anymore - probably because it was very cheap. I sure wish they hadn't quit selling it as I been really needing sweet oil for my ears. When my kids were young the sweet oil really helped their ear aches. I have allot of fluid in my ears. I also have a dizziness condition that is all the time; I've had it for 1 year. I really need to order some of this sweet oil.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I remember my Grandfather using this on me when I was a child when I would get an earache. It worked well. Luckily I never had issues with ear infections as a child. Hopefully I will have the same luck as I did 30 plus years ago!

    • Janellegems profile image


      4 years ago from United States

      Very informative hub and very useful remedy for ear infection. Thanks for sharing.


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