Ear Pain Home Remedies

Can Home Remedies Help Your Ear Pain?

You may think of ear infections as something only kids get. Ear infections are less common in grown children and adults, but they can still happen.

Ear infections often go away on their own and don’t need medical attention. There are things you can try to ease ear pain at home.

Home Care to Relieve Ear Pain

If you have ear pain, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about it.

There’s little research to say whether or not home care works, but most doctors agree these treatments are safe to try yourself:

A cool or warm compress. Soak a washcloth in either cool or warm water, wring it out, and then put it over the ear that's bothering you. Try both temperatures to see if one helps you more than the other.

A heating pad: Lay your painful ear on a warm, not hot, heating pad.

Over-the-counter ear drops with pain relievers. If they help at all, it’s only briefly. You shouldn’t use these drops if your eardrum has a tear or hole, so check with your doctor first.

Pain reliever. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen can often relieve the pain of an earache. Ask your doctor which is right for you.

Chew gum. If you’re on an airplane or driving at high altitudes and your ear pain is from the change in air pressure, chew some gum. It can help lower that pressure and ease your symptoms.

Sleep upright. While it may sound strange, resting or sleeping sitting up rather than lying down can encourage fluid in your ear to drain. This could ease pressure and pain in your middle ear. Prop yourself up in bed with a stack of pillows, or sleep in an armchair that’s a bit reclined.

When to Call a Doctor

Ear pain often gets better in 2 or 3 days on its own or with home care. Often all you need to do is take a pain reliever and be alert for symptoms that get worse. That said, it’s important to know when your discomfort might be a sign of something more serious.

Call your doctor if:

  • You notice fluid (such as pus or blood) oozing out of your ear.
  • You have a high fever, headache, or are dizzy.
  • You believe an object is stuck in your ear.
  • You see swelling behind your ear, especially if that side of your face feels weak or you can’t move the muscles there.
  • You’ve had severe ear pain and it suddenly stops (which could mean a ruptured eardrum).
  • Your symptoms don’t get better (or get worse) in 24 to 48 hours.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on August 25, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Ear Infection (Middle Ear),” “Home Remedies: Middle Ear Infections.”

National Institutes of Health: “Quick Statistics About Hearing.”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “The Diagnosis and Management of Acute Otitis Media,” “Complementary, Holistic, and Integrative Medicine: Therapies for Acute Otitis Media.”

Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine: “Efficacy of naturopathic extracts in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media.”

AARP Health: “Earache.”

Health Guidance: “How to Treat an Earache Using Home Remedies.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Earache.”

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