An ear infection is a painful and unpleasant condition that can not only hurt but also make it very difficult to hear what people are saying. That might sound like a minor annoyance, but just wait until you experience it for yourself. This is incredibly frustrating as you feel like you’re walking around in a bubble. You can’t hear anything anyone has to say to you, people have to keep repeating themselves and it can even feel dangerous when you’re crossing the road or doing other things where you need all of your awareness.
But an ear infection is more than just a painful blocked ear. The clue is in the name: this is also an infection and as such it means that you have some form of bacteria or virus causing the pain. This means you can also expect to feel all the unwanted symptoms of any infection which include temperature changes, sweating, tiredness, fever, nausea and more.
You need to be careful how you go about treating the problem too. Poking things into your ear risks compacting the trapped wax further, or potentially even damaging your ear drum. Fortunately, there are things you can do to treat your ear infection and to help it go away. Read on for a number of effective home remedies that are worth a try. Fourteen to be precise!
1. Olive Oil
The first place to start is with olive oil. This has some antibacterial properties, but the real aim of this is to help break up and disperse the wax that is collecting in your ear. Olive oil is effective at softening the wax which in turn means it will start to come out of its own accord.
Add a little to a pipette, drop into the ear and wait. You can actually buy products that do the same thing over the counter, but seeing as you already likely have this oil in your kitchen, why spend the money?
2. Garlic Oil
Garlic oil can work the very same way as olive oil. The key difference here is that you will find that you also help to treat the infection directly. That’s because garlic has fantastic antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
In fact, it is often referred to as a kind of ‘natural antibiotic’ and studies suggest that it might even be more effective than some forms of antibiotic at treating specific strains of infectious bacteria.
Again, add a little to a pipette lean the head to one side and wait a few minutes to drain. Then repeat on the other side!
3. Green Tea
Green tea is absolutely packed with antioxidants and is fantastic at boosting the immune system – in fact it might be one of the best ingredients out there for this purpose.
This is ultimately what is going to end up solving the problem of the infection: your immune system. Thus, anything you can do to support it will be a good thing. As an added bonus, the warmth can also be helpful.
If you really want to support your immune system though, get some vitamin D in you! Vitamin D is a vitamin that is actually produced naturally in the body when we are exposed to sunlight. Many of us are deficient but to solve this problem, it is possible to get what you need from your diet.
Fish is a particularly great source of vitamin D – as are mushrooms as long as they’re grown in direct sunlight (rather than under a lamp).
The reason vitamin D is so important is again because it enforces the immune system. In one study, it was found that consuming vitamin D could be more effective than even some flu shots in preventing infections of influenza!
5. Bicarb Ear Drops
While oil-based ear drops will do the trick eventually, my personal choice for treating any ear infection is to use a bicarb ear drop. This is bicarbonate of soda and it will work to quickly start crackling and popping as it breaks up the ear wax as soon as you put it in.
This is a little harsher than using oil though and you aren’t supposed to do it too regularly. It’s also potentially going to aggravate the infection. However, if your main concern is to quickly get rid of the wax then this will do the job. I recommend buying this ready made rather than trying to mix this together yourself!
6. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is yet another oil that can help to soften wax while also having useful antiseptic properties.
One thing to note when using any of these oils is that you’ll find that the wax and the difficulty hearing becomes worse in the short term as your ear wax become mushy and clamps over more of the opening.
However, in the long term it will help it to come out. So stick with it!
7. No More Q-Tips
Q-tips are one of the most unhelpful tools when it comes to combating an ear infection and when it comes to cleaning out your ears in general.
A lot of people rely on q-tips as a way to maintain their ear hygiene, but most professional advice now recommends against them as they can damage the ear drums and shove wax in deeper. Your ears actually have their own cleaning mechanisms and don’t need regularly input from you.
Whatever else though, you should certainly avoid using these while the infection is ongoing.
8. Warm Compress
A warm compress can help to provide some pain relief around your ear. What’s more though, is that it will also help to further soften and break up the wax to help it come out.
If you have a hot water bottle, then you can use this. Otherwise, try creating a ‘rice sock’ which you can do by placing rice inside a sock, tying a knot in the end and then placing it in the microwave.
Irrigation means literally washing out the ear. Here, you are going to run a small amount of water into the ear and let it flow out, complete with ear wax. In fact, some ear drops will even come with the tools to help this process.
Be careful though not to ‘squirt’ the water into the ear. This should be a gentle process, otherwise it can cause more damage than it prevents.
10. Warm Bath
A warm bath is a great way to enjoy that warm compress effect as the warm water surrounds your entire head. It will also help to break up the ear wax even faster, especially as the water is able to travel into the ear canal.
Just be aware that you may get trapped water, which can result in worse hearing for a short time until the issue is solved.