Earaches. One of the most common childhood ailments. Like a fever, every kid has probably suffered from an earache at least once, if not multiple times. They’re painful, and hard to explain to a little one who is yelping in pain. Thankfully, many of this discomfort can be treated with many effective natural earache remedies.
Why Do We Get Earaches?
Earaches can happen for a number of reasons:
- Too much earwax
- Water in the ear (swimmer’s ear)
- Ear infection
- Sinus infection
- Referred pain from the jaw or throat
Earaches Usually Go Away on Their Own
When it comes to ear infections, many will clear up on their own within a 2-10 days.
Earaches are often not even caused by bacteria, so antibiotics aren’t the best treatment. This is why it breaks my heart when children get placed on antibiotics over and over again for reoccurring ear infections. This practice is usually not effective and can set up a lifetime of digestive and health issues.
That’s why it’s a good idea to treat an earache with natural remedies at home first to avoid unnecessary antibiotics.
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What the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends for Earaches
The AAP’s most recent guidelines recommend a wait and see approach for most earaches.
However, if your child has the following symptoms, the AAP recommends that they see a doctor:
- Fever over 102 F
- Symptoms persists or worsen after 48-72 hours
- You suspect the eardrum has ruptured
- A child under 6 months has a single ear infection
- A child less than 2 years old has a double ear infection
Want to try earache remedies at home? Read on for some natural earache remedies.
Acupressure for Earaches
For kids and adults, acupressure can help relieve earache pain and even prevent them in the first place.
Some kids may be nervous about letting anyone touch around their ears when they are hurting. Luckily there are a couple of acupressure points that are less invasive, like on the feet and the top of the head.
Warm oils for Earaches
Warm oils are a great place to start with earaches, but it’s important to make sure the eardrum hasn’t ruptured before putting anything, even warm oil, in it.
Signs of eardrum rupture include:
- Sudden sharp ear pain (sounds like a clap of lightning) or pain and pressure that goes away instantaneously
- Drainage from the ear
- Noise, buzzing or hearing loss
A doctor can tell you for sure whether the eardrum has ruptured.
How to use warm oils for earaches
Straight-up olive oil: Warm the olive oil to body temperature and put a few drops into the ear. It works by soothing the inflamed eardrum.
Homemade garlic oil: Crush a clove of garlic and heat in olive oil to infuse. Cool the mixture to body temperature and place a few drops into the ear. The addition of garlic adds an antimicrobial property which can help fight infection.
Garlic Mullien oil: This special and potent oil is A MUST for a child who is susceptible to ear infections! (there’s one for adults too!). Mullein oil is an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, tranquilizer, anti-microbial, and a muscle relaxant. If you’re not convinced just read the reviews:
“My son had multiple ear infections at the end of 2014…..over and over, why we don’t know. The pediatrician kept prescribing antibiotics over and over. Antibiotics are fine when they are TRULY needed. One half dropper of this a day for three days makes my sons ear infections disappear! Customer for life!”
“I turned to Mullein/Garlic after learning the pharmacy holding my 3-year-old’s antibiotics had closed for the night. I put 2-3 drops in her hurting year while my husband held her and had her lie quietly on her side (we kept her preoccupied by watching Thomas on the iPad.). About 10 minutes later she told me her ear didn’t hurt and then proved it by dragging out bedtime routine!”
“I first used Herb Pharm Mullein Garlic Compound when I got a middle ear infection a few years ago. The M.D. prescribed Cipro, which is what they use to treat Anthrax, for God’s sake! I wasn’t about to take something so powerful for a simple ear infection. As a retired chiropractor, I choose a non-toxic natural approach whenever possible. Garlic is called “the Russian penicillin” because the Russian Army used it in WWII when they ran out of penicillin. No germs can live in garlic. This stuff is soothing and it works — however, be aware that it will take considerably longer to work than antibiotics. There are, of course, absolutely no side effects, which is my main concern for any non-life-threatening situation. I will not be without this product for the rest of my life.”
Cold or Hot Compresses for Earaches
A warm compress can get the circulation going and alleviate pain associated with earaches. The cold compress can help lessen the throbbing by reducing inflammation.
Go with whichever earache remedy works for you:
- Washcloth soaked in warm or cool water
- Washcloth straight from a warm dryer or hung by a wood stove
- Rice pillow (heated in the microwave)
- Ice pack (or frozen peas) wrapped in a towel
- Half of an onion heated gently (adds some antiseptic properties)
Chiropractic Care for Earaches
There is some evidence that chiropractic care can help treat earaches. In one study, 93 percent of all earaches improved with chiropractic care—most kids felt better in 7-10 days and with only 1 to 2 treatments. Though more longterm studies are needed, proponents say chiropractic adjustments can improve middle ear drainage and decrease ear infections. (source)
Studies show pediatric chiropractic care is very safe, but it’s important to choose a provider that specializes in treating kids. (source)
“It’s a completely different process when you work with kids, and you have to know what you’re doing in order to treat them appropriately. You need to know the proper techniques, contacts and depth. The contacts need to be smaller and the thrust more shallow with less force.” — Jennifer Brocker, DC, DICCP
Find a pediatric chiropractor using this database.
Herbal Steam for Earaches
Herbal steam inhalation is a great earache remedy, because it can help reduce sinus congestion and swelling that may be causing the pressure in the ears.
Here’s how to try this earache remedy:
- Boil some water and pour into a basin.
- Add herbs like sage, rosemary, calendula, or lemon balm.
- Drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam to clear your nasal passages and reduce inflammation and swelling.
Neti Pot for Earaches
Getting the nasal passages cleared out can ease the pressure and the pain of an earache. And there’s no better way to clear the nasal passages than with our friend the neti pot.
Here’s a video on how to use a neti pot.
Special Massage for Earaches
Earaches can be caused by things going on in the throat, jaw, or mouth. A congested lymphatic system (tonsils, lymph nodes, etc) can create swelling that causes the earache. Lymphatic drainage massage helps relieve congestion and pressure to alleviate ear pain.
Check out these videos on how to give yourself a lymphatic massage:
Homeopathic Earache Remedies
These homeopathic remedies are the most often used earache remedies.
Read through the symptoms and choose the one that most closely matches how you feel. Choose a low dose like 3x or 6x if you are less sure you’ve chosen the right earache remedy. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the dosage chosen (low doses can be given more often), you can give your earache remedy every 2-4 hours or as little as 4 times a day.
- Aconite: Sensitive to noise. Hot throbbing ear. Cold makes pain worse.
- Chamomilia: Extreme irritability. Anger and impatience. Cant be pleased.
- Mercurius: Chronic infections. Possible discharge. Thristy.
- Pulsatilla: Clingy and seeks sympathy. Pain worse at night and in warmth. Little thirst.
A lot of people like these homeopathic ear drops, which have a combination of various remedies.
You can use this book to get a better idea of the proper earache remedy and dose for you or your child.
Other Earache Remedies
- Avoid gluten, dairy, and sugar while sick, all of which can cause more inflammation, congestion, and suppressed immune function.
- Eat a healthy diet. Get enough Vitamin A, C, and D for immune function. Stick with homemade broths and soups if your child is not feeling well enough to eat.
- Stay hydrated!
What If Natural Earache Remedies Don’t Work?
Most earaches can be managed at home with these natural remedies, but if it’s been a few days and you’re not seeing any improvement, consult your doctor on next steps.
How to Prevent Earaches
Though most kids will experience earaches at some point, there is some evidence that kids (up to 12 years of age) who chew xylitol gum are less likely to get middle ear infections. In one analysis, kids who chewed xylitol gum twice per day were 25 percent less likely to develop earaches. Try Snowflake Xylitol or B Fresh.
How About You?
What natural earache remedies have you used with success?