How to cure an earache

How to cure an earache

Your kiddo is tugging on her ear again. Uh-oh. Or maybe ear pain is keeping you up at night. No matter the age, ear infections are no fun. ENT-otolaryngologist Anh Nguyen-Huynh, MD, explains all about ear infections, and the earache remedies you can try at home.

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What type of ear infection is it?

There are two common types of ear infections:

  • Otitis media: This ear infection affects the middle ear (right behind the eardrum). Middle ear infections are common in kids and tend to cause trouble hearing, fevers, and pain without much outward signs such as ear drainage or swelling.
  • Otitis externa: This infection affects the ear canal, and is commonly known as swimmer’s ear because water exposure is a risk factor for it. Swimmer’s ear is painful, too, and tends to have more visible signs such as a swollen ear canal or pus drainage.

“There are several home remedies for earaches,” says Dr. Nguyen-Huynh. “Try these for the first two or three days if symptoms are mild.”

Earache remedies you can try

1. Hot or cold compress

The skinny: Grab an ice or heat pack and put it on the affected ear to help with the pain.

Doctor’s advice: The temperature you use is up to you. Wrap it in a towel to make sure it’s not too cold or too hot. You don’t want to cause any burns.

2. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers

The skinny: Pain relievers work as advertised, helping take the edge off the pain.

Doctor’s advice: Both adults and kids can rest easier when they take acetaminophen or ibuprofen at the right dosage. These medications reduce pain and fever, making you feel more comfortable.

3. Sleep position

The skinny: How you sleep can affect ear pain. Rest with your head on two or more pillows, so the affected ear is higher than the rest of your body. Or if the left ear has an infection, sleep on your right side. Less pressure = less ear pain.

Doctor’s advice: It could be effective, though a few inches may not make a big difference in pressure measurement. But if it makes you feel better, go for it.

Two home remedies for earaches that are best left on the shelf

1. OTC numbing drops

Dr. Nguyen-Huynh recommends avoiding numbing drops. “The effect is very brief, and sometimes it does the opposite and stings the ear.”

2. Oils

Be it garlic, tea tree or olive — people swear by putting oil in the ear to help with ear infections. While garlic does have antibacterial properties, Dr. Nguyen-Huynh urges caution. If you’re using it for a middle ear infection, it won’t get to the source of the problem. And even if you do have a hole in your eardrum, there aren’t studies showing it’s safe to put garlic in there.

When to see a doctor about an earache

Dr. Nguyen-Huynh recommends seeing a doctor if:

  • Your symptoms remain after two or three days, even if you’ve tried over-the-counter or home remedies.
  • Your ear is very painful, or you have other symptoms that bother you.

Other common conditions, such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), can masquerade as earache infections. TMJ causes ear pain because the ear canal and the jaw joint share a nerve. “If you have ear pain along with trouble chewing, talking or yawning, then you should see a dentist or TMJ expert to be sure you’re treating the right condition,” notes Dr. Nguyen-Huynh.

The good news? Hot and cold compresses and OTC pain relievers can also help relieve TMJ pain until you sort things out.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Most people relate ear pain with ear infection, but the pain and discomfort at or near the ear can be a result of many problems. This article will figure out the hidden causes of ear infections. Most of the ear infections take place inside ears and usually there are no signs of infection at the outside. A different infection type displays redness and swelling outside the ear and you may feel the pain. Therefore, you need to understand more about ear infections to better monitor your conditions and prevent further damage.

How to cure an earache

Symptoms and Causes of Ear Infections in Adults

Bacterial and viral invasion are the most common causes of infection in the ear. You should also be aware of certain risk factors like smoking, sinusitis, air pollution, exposure to smoke, drinking when lying down, etc. to avoid getting infected. The infectious agent enters into the ear canal, especially when the person has cold, flu, breathing problem or other allergies; the infection may then get into the middle of ear to cause more serious symptoms. Below are 2 common types of ear infections along with symptoms and causes:

1. Swimmer’s Ear in Adults

Also called as otitis externa, this condition refers to external ear infections. These infections commonly occur in swimmers when the contaminated water enters the outer part of the ear canal. Germs then enter and grow due to the moisture. Some typical symptoms include:

  • Redness in ear
  • Itchiness
  • Skin flakes on ear
  • Pus drainage from ears
  • Earache on moving head or touching ear
  • Fever

Sometimes there’s too much debris and pus, which should be cleaned by the physician. You can use ear plugs while bathing and swimming to prevent swimmer’s ear. You should also dry your ear after swimming or bath. Avoid inserting things into your ear and don’t swim in polluted water.

2. Middle Ear Infection

Also known as otitis media, it is the most common infection among children. It is caused due to anatomical changes in the Eustachian tube’s size and shape. When excessive bacteria or fluid is found inside the ear, it causes infection. Adults with frequent infections of middle ear must visit an ENT (an ear, nose and throat specialist) to check if the surrounding tissues of nose or throat aren’t blocking the tube (and thus restricting the free drainage of the liquid).

Such an infection occurs usually after a cold virus, seasonal allergies or flying an airplane.Sticking objects like Q-tips can also cause the infection. Usually, the common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Earache
  • Ear drainage
  • Feeling of pressure inside the ear
  • Loss of hearing capability
  • Problems in balancing

Surgery to remove or reduce the size of the tissue may be required in some cases. Cigarette smoke, use of decongestant during flu and using ear-wax for cleaning must be avoided for future prevention.

When to Seek Medical Help

Symptoms of ear infections in adults can lead to multiple conditions, so it becomes imperative to get a proper diagnosis as early as possible. Call the doctor if:

  • Symptoms last for more than a day.
  • You have extreme earache.
  • Sleeplessness and irritation after cold or any other infection.
  • You notice fluid discharging from ear.

It usually takes 48-72 hours for otitis symptoms to relieve, but it may take up to 3 months for the built-in fluid to get completely drained out.

Medical Treatment for Ear Infections in Adults

In most cases, ear infection in adults resolve spontaneously, without treatment in the setting of competent immune system. But treatments that are suggested in some cases include:

1. Painkillers

To ease the earache, painkillers (like paracetamol or ibuprofen) are given. They also lower the temperature (fever associated with the ongoing infection). You can also give painkillers along with the prescribed antibiotics to ease the pain. Anesthetic medicines can also be placed in the ear to ease pain, but this treatment hasn’t been approved yet for children with severe earache.

2. Antibiotics

If infection doesn’t clear in 2-3 days, then antibiotics are suggested; however, generally intake of antibiotics should be avoided unless it is a must. As a side-effect, antibiotics are known to cause diarrhea and rashes. Situations in which antibiotics are suggested include:

  • Development of complications
  • Severe infection

Tested Home Remedies for Ear Infections in Adults

1. Salt Compress

Salt can be one of the easily available home remedies for the ear infections. Just heat a cup of salt on pan/double boiler or microwave. Then take out the salt on a cloth and tie from top.When some heat is released, place the salt filled cloth over the affected ear for 5-10 minutes. Repeat the procedure every day. Salt can be replaced with rice.

2. Heating Pad

Heat pad not only relieves pain quickly but also prevents micro-organism infestation. You need to use heating pad or warm water bottle to press against ear. Remember to apply heat for short periods. Start with 5 mins, and then remove. Apply few minutes later again.

3. Make the Best of Garlic

Naturally, garlic has the ability to relieve pain, especially earache. It can be used in different ways. You can prepare garlic oil by frying 2 cloves garlic in oil until blackish, strain and use as ear drops when slightly warm. Otherwise, just boil garlic in some water, crush and add salt, place in cloth piece and place over ear. The simplest way to apply garlic is to eat garlic daily.

4. Apply Basil Oil

Basil also works to relieve ear infections in adults. Minor earache and infections can be treated with basil. Extract juice of 4-5 basil leaves and apply on the ear and surroundings. Don’t let it enter into the ear canal. You can also mix holy basil oil with carrier oil. Soak in cotton ball and wipe it inside the ear.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar in Cotton Ball

It is used to reduce fungus inside the ear. Mix apple cider vinegar in water/alcohol; soak in cotton ball and place it inside the ear for a few minutes. Remove ball and lay down for liquid to drain. Dry your ear later. White vinegar can be an alternative.

6. Olive Oil to Clean

Wax can also cause ear infection in adults. To clear it; put slightly warm olive oil drops in affected ear. It will soften wax, so you can easily wipe off using cotton swabs carefully. Mustard oil can be used as an alternative.

7. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil can be used to relieve pain and work as an antibacterial agent. Combine 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 drops tea tree oil, 1 teaspoon colloidal silver, and heat the mixture for a while. Drop the mixture in ear and leave for 5 minutes, then drain. Repeat three times a day.

8. Mullein Drops

Mullein is commonly used in the form of mullein tea. Boil 1/2 cup water then add 1 teaspoon mullein flowers and let the mullein tea cool. Now, you need to combine 1 tablespoon mullein tea with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and leave this solution over the night. After that, you need to put a drop of mixture in infected ear. If you don’t want to make it on your own, mullein drops are also available readilymade.

How to cure an earacheOne great trick that everyone needs to have up their sleeve is how to help an earache naturally. If you’ve got yellow onions on hand, you’ve got the single most effective and easy remedy for ear issues.

You know how onions make your eyes water when you cut them?

Science tells us that this happens because onion plants absorb large quantities of sulfur compounds from the soil. These form a gas which is released when the onion is cut, and THAT dilates our Eustachian tubes and makes us weep.

Our ears, nose, and throat are all connected. That means we can use onions’ tear-inducing properties to help ease the pressure of a sore ear.

I’ve used this trick on my family’s ears for over a decade, and it helps every time. Any discomfort usually gets better within twenty minutes.

How to cure an earacheGet Hyland’s Natural Homeopathic Earache Drops on Amazon!

I love the onion trick because it can be used on kids and adults alike, and the only real side effect is smelling (and maybe tasting!) onion-y for a while afterward.

How to cure earaches with the onion trick:

  • Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. How to cure an earache
  • Cut an onion in half horizontally (yellow is best), as shown in the picture.
    Place both halves cut side UP on a cookie sheet in the warm oven for 10-15 minutes.
  • Cut a square of cheesecloth or use a thin piece of flannel to cover one of the cut halves, and hold it over your ear like an earmuff.
  • You can wedge it against your ear with a pillow while you rest.
  • After about 10 minutes, it will have cooled, and you can swap it out for the freshly warmed half that’s still in the oven.
  • How to cure an earacheYou can reheat each half at least twice, but do be aware that onions are great at absorbing toxins!
  • In about 20 minutes, your ear should start to feel better–and you might even be able to taste a faint trace of onion in the back of your throat!

Onions have been used as a folk remedy for various ailments for centuries, but in my experience, earaches are their most practical application–other than cooking!

Have you ever tried the onion trick for earaches? How did it work for you?

How to cure an earache

A number of factors such as growth of harmful bacteria, fungus and viruses, accumulation of ear-wax, blockage by foreign substances and exposure of ear to allergens can lead to ear problems ultimately causing earache. Earaches generally pain a lot towards the inner ear. It could also be due to primary infections in the throat. Earaches are very excruciating; and obtaining relief from earaches is easy with a few home-based remedies that use simple ingredients like onion. In this article we have discussed how one could use onion for earache relief.

Does Onion Cure Earaches?

  • Due to the presence of anti-oxidants onions help eliminate free radicals from the body, this helps in preventing bacterial growth which might ultimately cause earaches.
  • Onions have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that help in reducing the earache caused by any stimuli.
  • Onions contain useful nutrients that help in combating earaches.
  • Onions contain an anti-oxidant compound known as quercetic which has been proven to have anti-microbial properties which help in curing the cause of earaches.

How to Use Onion for Earache:

Onions have a number of anti-bacterial and anti-infective properties making it one of the most effective remedies for curing earaches.

1. Onion Juice for Earache:

You’ll need:

  • 1 teaspoon of onion juice

Preparation time: 2 minutes.

How to do:

  • Extract one teaspoon of onion juice by grating onions and squeezing them.
  • Heat this over a low flame.
  • Put 2-3 drops of this juice in the affected area at least twice or thrice a day.
  • Ensure that any liquid remaining in the ear canal is removed and the ear is dried.

Repetitions: Repeat regularly till the earache goes away.

2. Onion Wrap for Earache:

You’ll need:

Preparation time: 2 minutes.

How to do:

  • Cut a fresh onion into slices.
  • Wrap it tightly in a cloth.
  • Hold it over your ear for 5-10 minutes.

Repetitions: Repeat this process regularly till the earache cure.

3. Garlic and Onion for Earache:

You’ll need:

  • onion
  • garlic cloves

Preparation time: 3 minutes.

How to do:

  • Slices of onion can be used in combination with crushed garlic cloves.
  • This can be placed in a muslin cloth.
  • Hold this over the ear for about 20 minutes.

Repetitions: This can be done twice every day till the earache subsides.

Tips and Precautions:

  • Do not go swimming if you have an earache. The excess liquid entering the ear causes more pain. It will also reverse all the efforts being put in the treatment.
  • Do not clean the ear wax every day. The role of ear wax is to form a protective barrier to any foreign substance that enter the ear canal. The everday use of ear buds must be avoided for healthy ears.
  • When using onion for earache, ensure that the onion is cleaned before being used and does not contain any contaminants from soil or water as that can cause even further complications to the already severe earache.

Ear infection is a common condition with known treatments – antibiotics and painkillers. Although these treatments have a time frame for treating ear infections, ear infection healing time may be different from one person to the other.

If you need more information or you have a question regarding Ear Infection, you can discuss it with our HearingSol healthcare professionals, just give us a call on +91-9899437202. We are always here to help you.

Ear infections’ healing time varies between individual. The recovery time of ear infection based on the age, anatomy, and surroundings of the patient.

Children may experience pain for several days, while adults may heal faster since their Eustachian tube is wide enough.

Normally, the healing time for middle ear infection may vary from 2 days to 3 days, an outer ear infection can last to 2 weeks and inner ear infection can last even up to 2 months until full recovery.

Healing time in different sections of the ear

The infections persist in the middle, the outer and inner part of the ear. Every part has its unique features. As a result healing time also depends on the section of the ear.

  • Outer – Causes of outer ear infection are different from a middle ear infection. The most common type of infection in the outer ear is bacterial infections. But fungal and viral infections can occur as well. It can last for a week or longer. Its symptoms are severe pain in the ear, purulent discharge, fever, etc.
  • Middle – The infection shouldn’t last more than one or two days. After an ear infection clears up, fluid may remain in the middle ear and cause some of the more mild symptoms and can persist for several weeks to months. This condition is diagnosed as otitis media with effusion. Its symptoms are ear pain, feeling like your ear is clogged, Nausea, Reduced Hearing.
  • Inner – The infection exists for a long time in this section. Most commonly, viral is the reason for the inner ear infection. These viruses can be most of the flu and cold. Its symptoms are pain, fever, and reduced hearing. Nausea and tinnitus can also occur in an inner ear infection.

The Eustachian tube drains fluid and air from the middle ear. Blockage in the Eustachian tube may cause fluid to build up. This causes pain since it applies pressure on the eardrum. The fluid is also a fertile ground for bacteria growth and this leads to an ear infection.

Signs of ear infection

The signs of ear infection are

  • A red eardrum or a bulging eardrum with fluid behind it
  • Thick pus in any part of the ear
  • Inflammation of the middle ear

Causes of ear infections involve:

  • Allergies
  • Colds and sinus infections
  • Excess fluids produced during teething
  • Infected or overgrown adenoids
  • Tobacco smoke or other irritants


Antibiotics treat middle ear infections the pain and the bacteria. In most cases, treating the pain and resting is enough as the body heals itself. Antibiotics should have an effect within 48 to 72 hours, but the infection healing time may be longer than that. For this reason, it is important to finish the full course of antibiotics prescribed by the doctor.

Prevention of ear infections

  • Washing hands frequently.
  • Breastfeed
  • Avoiding smoking.
  • Ensure immunizations are still active.
  • Avoid overusing antibiotics.
  • Do not touch the infected part
  • Go for a medical checkup as soon as possible

If you need more information or you have a question regarding Ear Infection, you can discuss it with our HearingSol healthcare professionals, just give us a call on +91-9899437202. We are always here to help you.

Ear infections are relatively common in both adults and children. Indeed, one in ten adults gets an ear infection at least once in their life, with more women getting it than men. The problem is estimated to affect nine in ten children before their third birthday. Also known as otitis media, ear infection is caused by bacteria or viruses in the ear canal. The infection causes pain due to fluid buildup and increased pressure against the eardrum. How to deal with it?

How to cure an earache

How to Get Rid of Ear Infection

While some cases require medical attention, most ear infections clear on their own. Rest and some home remedies will usually do the trick.

1. Holding a Warm Piece of Cloth over the Ear

How to cure an earache

Applying a warm compress relieves pain. You can do this in the following ways:

  • Dip a piece of cloth in warm water, drain and hold it over the affected ear.
  • Microwave a clean sock filled with either rice or beans for about 25 seconds and hold it on the ear.
  • Alternatively, do the same with one cup of salt. Heat some salt and put it in a bean bag. Place it on the infected ear while lying down; making sure that the temperature is not too high to make you uncomfortable. The heated salt will draw out any fluid from the infected ear and subsequently reduce pain and swelling.
  • Do this for 10-15 minutes every day until the pain subsides.

2. Garlic

How to cure an earache

Garlic is an effective natural remedy for ear infection. It has antimicrobial and antiviral properties. You can use garlic in any of the following ways:

  • Start by eating one or two cloves of fresh garlic every day to boost immunity and fight the infection.
  • Crush a few cloves of boiled cloves; add some salt before placing them in a clean piece of cloth and putting it on the affected ear.
  • Fry some cloves of garlic in mustard oil until they are dark. Strain and leave to cool before putting a few drops into the affected ear using a dropper.

3. Olive Oil

How to cure an earache

Olive oil is one of Mother Nature’s best remedy for a myriad of conditions, including clearing blocked ear canals. When earwax along the ear canal is attacked by fungi or bacteria, it leads to a blockage of the Eustachian tubes and ear infection.

Warm some olive oil over low heat and pour a few drops into the affected ear. The olive oil will melt the solid wax, allowing you to easily pick it out using a cotton swab. Be careful so that you don’t insert the swab too deep; otherwise you might injure your eardrum.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another “how to get rid of ear infection” remedy. It has bacterial and yeast killing properties, lowers blood sugar and has a plethora of other uses around the house.

  • To use apple cider vinegar to combat ear infection, mix a tablespoon of ACV and a tablespoon of water and dab a cotton ball in the mixture.
  • Place the cotton ball in the affected ear and allow it to sit there for about five minutes.
  • Remove and lie on the other side to allow the excess liquid to drain off.
  • Additionally, gargle ACV every morning to kill bacteria within the Eustachian tube.

You may substitute white vinegar for ACV if that’s what you have.

5. Tea Tree Oil

How to cure an earache

Tea tree oil is an excellent herbal remedy for otitis media besides other conditions. The oil contains antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic and antiviral properties. A few drops of the oil mixed with olive oil and warmed will bring a significant amount of comfort.

Make sure to turn on the other side to drain the oil after allowing the remedy to act on the sick ear for a few minutes. Repeat this for several days until the infection goes away.

6. Hydrogen Peroxide

How to get rid of ear infection? Hydrogen peroxide can be used to break down the wax that may build up in the Eustachian tubes and increase the risk of infection. Follow the following procedure:

  • Mix equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and water in a small bowl.
  • Dub a cotton ball in the mixture and squeeze a few drops into the affected ear and leave it in for ten minutes.
  • Drain out the liquid.
  • Repeat this procedure until the infection clears.

7. Painkillers

If the earache is too much, it is advisable to take over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen. Ibuprofen for children will also come in handy in reducing pain and fever associated with the infection.

Take note of the following before giving pain relievers to children:

  • Make sure you got the right dosage for your child and stick to it strictly.
  • Do not give pain relievers like ibuprofen to a child who is younger than six months.
  • Avoid giving aspirin as a pain reliever to children and infants due to the associated risk factors such as liver damage and Reye’s syndrome.
  • Pain relieving medication can bring some degree of comfort.

When to See a Doctor

It is recommended that you see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor if the pain worsens or does not stop after two days of medication. Your doctor will probably recommend antibiotics to combat the infection.

Seek immediate medical care in case you notice any of the following:

  • Stiff, painful neck
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Pus, or blood oozing out of the ear
  • High fever, even after taking ibuprofen in an effort of how to get rid of ear infection.
  • Painful swelling around the ear
  • Tinnitus or noise in the ear

For a child who is below six months, it is best to take him/her to a doctor immediately you notice signs of an ear infection. Do not try any home remedies on infants and small children.

Signs of an Ear Infection to Look Out for in Infants

Since they are young and are not able to express how they are feeling, always be alert for the following symptoms of ear infection:

  • Child keeps tugging and pulling at the ear due to the pain and discomfort.
  • The baby is crying endlessly.
  • The baby has difficulty sleeping.
  • The baby has fever.
  • Fluid is coming out of the ear.