How to Get Rid of an Earache

by Brandy Martin

Earaches are a pesky and painful nuisance that can ruin your day. Babies and small children are especially prone to suffer from painful earaches. But this condition can affect anyone from very young children to the elderly, and fortunately there are several ways to make it go away. Before we get to those, let’s take a quick look at why people experience earaches. The condition can arise from a number of different problems.

One cause is moisture trapped in the ear canal, a condition commonly known as “swimmer’s ear.” Many people associate this condition with the activity it’s named after, and many do experience this discomfort after swimming. Even if you don’t swim, you can experience an earache after indulging any activity in moist conditions such as bathing. People who live in humid climates such as the deep south are also susceptible.

Another cause of earaches is the growth of bacteria in the ear canal, causing ear infections. Some common culprits are the bacterias Streptoccocus pneumonia (also called pneumococcus), Moraxella catarrhalis, and Haemophilus influenza.

earache - treating with heat

Treating earache with heat

In addition to bacteria, viral infections can also block the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ears to the throat. When the Eustachian tubes are blocked, air can’t reach the middle ear.

This blockage creates a vacuum which forces germs and fluids from the throat and nose into the middle ear.

The blocked Eustachian tube then prevents this fluid from draining, and the bacteria or fluid within the trapped fluid begins to grow causing an infection.

The Respiratory Syncytial Virus (or RSV), which affects many infants, is a common offender. Influenza, better known as flu, is also a virus that commonly causes earaches.

Even without the aid of a bacteria or virus, fluid and inflammation can build up in the middle ear resulting in a stuffiness known as otitis media with effusion.

Now that we know what might be causing your problem, here’s how to get rid of an ear infection.

How to Get Rid of an Earache: Warm Compress

Warm compress is a solution that will relieve some of the pressure in your ear and ease your ear pain. This is an easy treatment you can do at home. Fill your sink with warm water, and soak a towel in the water. Wring out the towel, fold it into a square and hold the warm towel firmly against your ear.

How to Get Rid of an Earache: Mineral Oil

Using mineral oil for earaches is a home remedy that many have found useful. This is primarily a solution for swimmer’s ear. Because your ear canal is moist, it is a very bacteria-friendly environment. This growth of bacteria causes an infection, which is why you’re feeling the pain.

Mineral oil works to fix an earache by helping to reduce water in your ear, making it hard for the bacteria that have caused the infection to survive. Note that you shouldn’t use mineral oil if you’ve been diagnosed with a perforated ear drum, as the mineral oil could have harmful consequences.

How to Get Rid of an Earache: Tylenol

This is one of the most commonly recommended treatments for an earache. This over-the-counter pain reliever can keep you comfortable and pain-free until the problem has subsided. Keep in mind that if you are caring for a child with an earache, you must pay particular attention to the dosage that you are giving your child. A doctor may be able to give you sound advice on giving medication to children.

How to Get Rid of an Earache: Auralgan

If oral medication and home remedies aren’t for you, auralgan might be a good alternative. Auralgan is a low-grade anesthetic that you can apply to your ear canal. This medication will offer some pain relief, and it is available at most drug or grocery store pharmacies.

How to Get Rid of an Earache: Decongestants

Over the counter decongestants are medications that work similarly to warm compress to relieve pain. A simple decongestant will relieve the pressure building in your ear and cause the ear pain to subside.

How to Get Rid of an Earache: When to See a Doctor

Of course one of the best solutions to an earache is to get a doctor’s opinion. If you try these home remedies without getting any relief, or if your earache intensifies or continues to ache for longer than a few days it may be wise to get a doctor’s opinion.

(Brandy Martin works with HearAgainOK, a provider of hearing aids Oklahoma city residents trust. She enjoys writing about health and home remedies.)

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