Earaches and ear pain can have a number of causes, but not matter the cause, they are no fun! Here are some ideas for natural earache remedies using things you might have around the home--and they really work!
As I said, earaches have many causes, some of which are fluid behind the ear, ear infections, irritation, and inflammation from an illness.
In this post, we'll talk about some ways to help with earaches while you are trying to determine the cause, and we'll also address the possible overuse of antibiotics in the case of ear infections.
Antibiotic Use and Ear Infections
Did you know that antibiotics aren’t typically necessary for ear infections and that overuse of antibiotics for ear infections can cause long-lasting health problems including gut dysbiosis and antibiotic resistance?
It's a common misperception that an infection means that one must use an antibiotic. In the case of an ear infection, that is definitely not the case. In fact, according to the CDC, for most ear infections, antibiotics are not recommended. Overuse of antibiotics for children’s ear infections can end up causing gut microbial imbalance and even antibiotic-resistance.
What's more, ear infections are often over-diagnosed and of course, viral ear infections won't respond to antibiotics.
For these reasons, it's important to know how to address ear infections at home to avoid unnecessary exposure to antibiotics and the problems that can arise from their overuse.
Overuse of Antibiotics in My Life
When it comes to sicknesses in our home, I try to avoid antibiotics as much as possible, for those very same reasons. We try to use saline washes, essential oils, probiotics, and other natural methods of strengthening our systems and healing before turning to OTC and prescription medications, but finding natural earache remedies that really work has been tough.
When I was young, my mother took me to the doctor for antibiotics way too often and as such, my gut had a lot of damage done to it. My weaknesses were passed on to my kids, and so I try to do the best I can to keep them from further insult. Since the gut is the source of most of your immune system, it's crucial to keep it as healthy as possible.
Now that we've talked about ear infections, let's move on to earaches.
Our Earache Experience
Awhile back, we had a month with quite a few health issues popping up in our family.
When we tried a bunch of natural ear infection remedies, I got a real shocker--A natural remedy for ear infections that was unbelievable. I just had to write and tell you all about it.
It all started when we went roller skating with our church and I decided to take a good run at it even though I'd only roller skated once in my life.
---In elementary school.
I should have practiced more between the first time and this last time because I ended up with a concussion and a badly injured tailbone and elbow. My arm still isn't acting quite normal.
Then, the boys and I ended up with a bad case of the flu.
One of those "I don't know if I am going to live through this" illnesses.
When we were all starting to be on the mend, we had a meeting at church and our kids hung out with other sick kiddos while we met with the adults.
I figured, "Well, we've all got the same thing that's going around, right?" and didn't worry about it 'cause I figured we couldn't get sick from the same thing again.
Oldest son later came down with an earache.
It had been a looong time since we've had one of these in our home.
He was in a lot of pain.
Important Cautions About Ear Infections
Before we get to the natural earache remedies, here are some important notes. Of course, take caution before putting anything into your or your child's ear. If there is pus coming out or you otherwise suspect a burst eardrum, nothing should be put in the ear.
And of course, please seek medical advice before putting anything into your child's ear (except the proverbial elbow, of course :).)
Seek Medical Attention Regarding Your Child If:
- Symptoms last for more than a day
- Ear pain is severe
- Your infant or toddler is sleepless or irritable after a cold or other upper respiratory infection
- You observe a discharge of fluid, pus or bloody discharge from the ear
Additionally, an adult with ear pain or discharge should see a doctor as soon as possible.
The following is not medical advice--I'm simply telling you about what worked for us.
Natural Earache Relief Methods That Really Work
- and my DIY saline wash.
3. Helichrysum Oil around the ear (diluted with a carrier oil)
4. Essential Oil Antibacterial oil blend around the ear (again, diluted with a carrier oil)
5. Ear Pulling
Some practitioners recommend pulling on the earlobe gently in a number of different directions, and then following up by pulling firmly downward. This hasn't worked for me, but some say it does for them.
6. Basil Oil
Side Note About Where to Buy Essential Oils
Read my Best Essential Oils Series to find out which company I buy from and why. It got VERY interesting along the way, so I recommend reading the whole thing, but of course you can skip to the end here.
7. Onion Juice
Another "interesting" remedy.
From the instructions on the internet, you are supposed to either press an onion or scrape at it to remove some of the "juice" from it. Then you either drop a bit of it into the ear or mix it with oil and do the same.
Well, let me tell you--getting juice out of onion isn't easy. I tried several times. I would be interested in hearing if anyone out there has a better method for making this.
8. Saline Wash
Saline washes are great for getting junk out of your sinuses to relieve pressure around the ears. I love using them and make my own homemade saline nasal spray, but it didn't do anything this time to help his ears.
9. Garlic oil is often recommended as a natural way to address an earache. You can simply put 2-3 drops of the oil in the ear in question, cover with a cotton ball, and leave in the ear for about 15 minutes. Lying on one's side with the affected ear up helps the oil to stay in the ear.
Homemade garlic oil is something some natural websites recommend, but I have heard that putting garlic oil in the ear can lead to heavy-duty detoxing that can cause more problems. Plus garlic apparently spoils quickly and can lead to botulism. Botulism in the ear? No thank you.
10. Breastmilk is touted on some natural living sites as being a dependable option for earaches. Breastmilk is known to have immune-boosting properties, so this makes sense. Breastmilk is well known that breastfeeding provides helpful antibodies to the child, helping them to fight off bacterial and viral infections. (source)
Natural Earache Remedies We Have Used
We have tried many of the above remedies with varying amounts of relief. And we've tried a few more.
To my recollection, we have never had to use antibiotics once for an ear infection or earache for our kids. Natural methods have always worked for us--thankfully!
I'm all about avoiding antibiotics and pharmaceuticals whenever possible. I wrote some about how antibiotics and other drugs can affect gut health in my Candida and How I Went Sugar-Free series.
When my kid is in pain, I'm for trying almost anything. Almost :).
Somehow these remedies support the body so that they can deal with what is ailing it. Of course, if you have concerns, speak with your physician. And if you need medication, take it. I just am deeply concerned about antibiotic overuse and so is my physician. Antibiotic resistance is a real problem and we need to take care when using those medications.
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What natural ear infection remedies have you used?