Given the anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, soothing, and antioxidant properties of many essential oils, they are a popular and effective remedy for an earache. Earaches can be caused by many different things, including foreign bodies in the ear, excess earwax buildup, or teeth grinding at night. However, other potential causes of earaches are more serious, such as chronic ear infections, problems with your thyroid, tonsillitis or sinus infections, among many others. Due to the broad range of possible reasons, the versatile effects of essential oils are particularly useful in quickly remedying these issues and relieving the pain.
It's thought that earaches are primarily experienced in children, but there are many adults who regularly suffer from this condition as well. When various infections get into the ear canal or perhaps cause inflammation behind the eardrum, it can cause intense pain. For this reason, constant crying is a sign that your child may have an ear infection. The other common symptoms include muffled hearing, nausea, dizziness, and the constant sensation that something is in your ear. Not only can this condition be annoying, but the underlying cause can be dangerous to your overall health. Therefore, the at-home use of essential oils for an earache is an excellent idea, particularly for those people who suffer from chronic ear infections.
Nine Essential Oils for an Earache
There are many excellent essential oils for an earache, but the most reputable and trusted are basil, rosemary, tea tree, olive, oregano, thyme, peppermint, garlic, lavender, and mustard oil.
1. Lavender Essential Oil
This powerful and popular essential oil can quickly reduce the pain of an earache and soothe the inflammation in your ear canal. This is one of the most widely accepted natural remedies for earaches, approved even by medical professionals.
How to Use
Mix a few drops of lavender oil with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and rub gently on the outer ear. Do not stick your fingers or the oil deep into your ear, as this can exacerbate the inflammation and pain if you have a negative reaction.
2. Garlic Oil
Pure garlic oil contains high concentrations of allicin, which can help to reduce the inflammation in your ears and soothe pain thanks to its antioxidant behavior. Furthermore, this oil is antibacterial in nature, so it can take care of any underlying infections in the ear.
How to Use
People often mix garlic oil with a small amount of olive oil and then topically apply it to the outer and inner ear. However, garlic oil can be very irritating by itself, so do not use an undiluted form of this oil. Also, if the eardrum is ruptured, you should not put this oil in the ear.
3. Oregano Essential Oil
This essential oil is packed with active ingredients and antioxidants that can quickly clear up any infections or blockage in the ear, and relieve pain at the same time. (Also read: Surprising Health Benefits and Uses of Oregano)
How to Use
You can gently apply a few drops of oregano oil (typically blended with a carrier oil, such as almond or olive oil), to the outside of the ear, but do not put this oil in the actual ear canal.
4. Peppermint Essential Oil
This soothing oil is legendary for its ability to rapidly eliminate inflammation, making it ideal for use on a painful earache. This oil is even approved for use in children, although caution should be used, and the oil should always be diluted in some way with a carrier oil.
How to Use
Mix 4-5 drops of peppermint oil with jojoba oil or olive oil and then rub gently around the outside of the ear. Allow the oil to absorb completely before wiping dry.
5. Mustard Essential Oil
The antibacterial capacity of mustard oil is often overlooked, but it can be very effective if you are confident that an ear infection is causing your earache. There are also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in this oil that can soothe the inflamed tissues and reduce symptoms like muffled hearing.
How to Use
You can mix a few drops of mustard oil in a glass of warm water and then gently pour it into the ear canal. Allow it to sit for 30-60 seconds before pouring it out. If your earache is the result of an eardrum rupture, do not use this remedy.
6. Basil Essential Oil
This is one of the most effective essential oils for an earache, as it possesses antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities, so even a small amount can soothe an earache in no time at all, provided you use this powerful oil responsibly.
How to Use
Dab a small cotton ball in this oil, but do not soak it completely. Then, place the cotton ball against your ear and place a piece of gauze to hold it in place. The oil does not need to be pushed into the ear canal, as the aromatic compounds are enough to be effective.
7. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Some earaches are caused by a buildup of fluid or material in the ear, while others are caused by infections. Fortunately, tea tree oil has astringent properties to dry up any fluid, along with some of the strongest antiviral and antibacterial qualities of an essential oil. This is an incredibly trusted and reliable solution for earaches.
How to Use
Add 3 drops of this oil to 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat it slightly to thin the mixture. Then, using an eyedropper, drip this mixture into the ear canal, no more than 6-8 drops, and hold it in the ear for 10 minutes before draining.
8. Olive Oil
If you want to clear out excess earwax or simply soothe the inflammation of an earache, pouring a bit of olive oil can help ease pain and also break up that hard earwax. Since this isn't an essential oil, the concentration isn't dangerous, and this remedy can be used quite liberally unless the eardrum has ruptured.
How to Use
Pour 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil into the ear canal and hold it there for 5-10 minutes before allowing it to drain. This will loosen earwax and deliver antioxidants and antibacterial compounds to the possible site of the infection.
9. Thyme Essential Oil
Thymol is the active ingredient in thyme oil, which has incredible anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which may not necessarily solve the underlying cause of the ear infection, but it can definitely help you deal with the discomfort!
How to Use
You can mix a few drops of thyme oil with lavender oil or olive oil and then gently apply it to the outside of the ear. Do not place thyme oil inside the ear canal, as this can worsen the infection or cause additional inflammation.
Word of Caution
While these essential oils for an earache are highly effective, there are some health concerns that you should take into consideration. Some earaches are indicative of a much more serious underlying condition, such as Bell's palsy or Meniere's disease, and while these are quite rare, a chronic earache should be taken seriously. If your earaches persist or become debilitating, you should see a doctor for a complete check. Furthermore, before adding a potent and powerful essential oil to your health regimen, particularly a delicate area of the body like the ears, it is best to check with your doctor. There is the potential for allergic reactions and skin irritation with many of these oils, particularly for people with sensitive skin.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Earaches
Walking around with your head tilted to the side and squinting is no way to go through life. The thing about getting rid of earaches is this: an earache can be a symptom of many infectious diseases and/or disorders, serious ones too. But, you don't want to go to the emergency room every time you get an earache (everybody else is usually doing that, one of the most common reasons for ER visits), because they're usually just the result of an ear infection- but that is nothing to laugh at either. So, you have to take a measured approach to the subject of how to get rid of an earache, and I'll start by suggesting that you go see a doctor as soon as you can, especially if you've been suffering from recurrent earaches. This is particularly true if the person suffering from an earache is an infant or young child. The suggestions for relieving earache pain offered here are for educational purposes only - self-diagnosing and self-treating an earache can be dangerous.
An acute earache is usually caused by an outer ear infection (external otitis) or a middle ear infection (otitis media), while a recurrent earache can be a symptom of something more significant. If you are suffering from an acute earache that lasts more than three hours or a mild earache that lasts more than a day or if you've recently suffered some sort of trauma to your ear, you should go see a doctor. Now, with all of that said, we should move on to home earache remedies.
- Airplane Ear
- Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
- Middle Ear Infection
- External Ear Infection
- Ear Wax Blockage
- Swimmers Ear (otitis externa)
- Head or Chest Colds
- Ruptured Ear Drum
The most common symptoms associated with an earache, which is a symptom itself, are:
- Mild to acute pain when touching or pulling on the outer ear or pain inside the ear itself.
- Pressure or a plugged feeling in the ear, a feeling of fullness inside your ear.
- Hearing loss or tinnitus, a ringing tone that comes and goes or doesn't go away at all.
- Persistent itchiness may be perceived, not an identifiable pain per se.
Remedies for Earaches
If you're trying to get rid of an earache, the first thing you should try is plain old Tylenol. When I say plain old Tylenol, I mean Acetaminophen. You don't want to be taking Ibuprofen or Aspirin when you've got an earache because these medicines may, in very rare circumstances, cause more pain or ringing in the ears-what the medical community calls tinnitus. Also, you don't want to give Aspirin to a child because of the potential risk for inducing something called Reyes syndrome, an inflammation of tissue in the brain, especially if they're suffering from a fever. You can find Tylenol at Amazon.
If basic pain medication like Acetaminophen isn't getting rid of your earache, you can try Auralgan. Auralgan is a local anesthetic that can be applied directly to the ear canal that is causing you pain. It's a relatively innocuous drug, and you can find it at any reputable drug store or pharmacy-probably even online. This solution is good for people who don't tolerate oral painkillers well, like people who suffer from ulcers or acid reflux.
Mineral oil is the home remedy when it comes to getting rid of an earache. It's only effective if you're suffering from an external ear infection, however, or what we like to call "swimmer's ear," which is usually caused by a build-up of bacteria due to an excess of moisture in the ear. What you don't want to do is apply mineral oil if you have a perforation in your eardrum or if you have drainage plugs implanted in your eardrums. Otherwise, mineral oil will usually do the trick for minor ear aches, swimmer's ear, or otitis externa. It will help shed water from the ear and protect the sensitive lining of your ear canal. It's also good at loosening up ear wax.
While you're waiting for the mineral oil to take care of your earache, you may want to try a decongestant as well. Decongestants are good because they help promote drainage. This is particularly helpful if you're suffering from a middle ear infection, or if the earache seems to be caused more by pressure or a fullness in your ear. If you're diagnosed with either an external ear infection or a middle ear infection, chances are your doctor will prescribe or suggest a decongestant as a treatment complementary to antibiotics.
Finally, if you're still not getting much relief from your earache, you may want to try a warm compress over your ear. Really, anything soft and warm that you can lay over your ear will help relieve pain and pressure, but most often this is either accomplished with a typical hot/cold pad purchased at a drug store, or it's done by soaking a small towel in boiling water and applying it to the ear once it's been allowed to cool to a reasonably comfortable temperature.
Natural Earache Remedies
Sleeping with your head elevated is a natural way to prevent earaches and ear infections. It works by promoting proper drainage through your Eustachian tube (the canal that connects your ears to your throat) by allowing gravity to do what it does best: pull things down. This is also a good way to promote drainage of your external ear canal as well.
Olive oil can be used instead of mineral oil to help relieve earache pain. This is by no means considered a long-term solution to earache relief. Olive oil does exactly what mineral oil does, it lubricates and relieves tenderness in the ear canal. The same warnings and dangers apply to olive oil that applies to mineral oil, as well; people with perforated eardrums or eardrum drainage plugs should avoid this solution. Considering how much literature there is out there describing the various health benefits of consuming olive oil, you'd be doing yourself two favors by buying a bottle of it the next time you're in the grocery store.
Garlic oil may also be used to relieve earaches and it has an added benefit of possessing antimicrobial properties as well as acting as a natural painkiller. garlic oil is seeing a surge in popularity these days, mostly due to studies being done on garlic's effects on viral and bacterial infections. Ask your doctor about using garlic oil as a complementary treatment for earaches or the ear infection that may be causing your earache.
Murine manufactures a homeopathic earache remedy that I decided to take a chance on, and it worked. I'm not certain it was the "active ingredients" that cured my earache because one of the "inactive ingredients" was glycerine oil, something similar to mineral oil.
How to Prevent Earaches
Really, if you're going to avoid having to get rid of an earache while saving money on your hospital bills, you'll want to do what you can to prevent earaches from occurring in the first place. Sometimes this isn't possible, and if you suffer from recurrent earaches you should probably see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist. However, there are several things you can do to avoid this uncomfortable situation in the future:
- Stop putting things in your ear. This includes cotton-tipped swabs, fingernails, and any sharp objects, even those "patented devices" you come across from time to time.
- Blow your nose gently, and avoid people who are suffering from upper respiratory infections (head and chest colds).
- Avoid cigarette smoke at all costs. Long-term smokers are more susceptible to getting ear infections and the consequent earaches, and most people are allergic to cigarette smoke in the first place.
- Wear earplugs when you go swimming. When you're done wearing your earplugs, clean them with rubbing alcohol and make sure they stay dry when in storage.
- Flush your ears with vinegar and water or rubbing alcohol and water after showering or swimming. If you have drainage plugs in your ears or a perforated eardrum, you may want to try drying your ears with a blow dryer set on low heat.