Ear infections are one of the most common ailment children and adults suffer chronically.

This is especially true for people who spend a lot of time in the water. In fact, there’s even a name for ear infections caused by swimming : swimmer’s ear.

Although ear infections are so common, the majority of people rely on antibiotics to relieve their symptoms.

With antibiotic resistance becoming a larger concern for the World Health Organization and medical professionals worldwide, it’s time to turn towards traditional, but no less effective, healing methods.

What Is An Ear Infection?

Although anyone can develop a middle ear infection, 75% of cases occur in children under 10 (1).

It’s estimated that that five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday (2).

In fact, ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor.

Symptoms include :

  • Mild pain or discomfort inside the ear
    • A feeling of pressure inside the ear that persists
    • Fussiness in young infants
    • Pus-like ear drainage
    • Hearing loss
  • Diarrhea and vomiting

An ear infection is usually caused by bacteria or fungi and often begins after a child has a sore throat, cold, or other upper respiratory infection.

If the upper respiratory infection is caused by a virus, such as a cold, bacteria may be drawn to the microbe-friendly environment and move into the middle ear as a secondary infection. (source)

Eustachian tubes connect your ears to your throat. A cold can cause these tubes to swell. When the tubes swell enough to become blocked, they can trap fluid inside your ear. This makes them the perfect place for germs to grow and cause an infection. (source)

Most complications are the result of the infection spreading to another part of the ear or head, including the bones behind the ear (mastoiditis), the inner ear (labyrinthitis), or the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).

Left untreated, ear infections can cause  damage to the eardrum and temporary or permanent hearing loss.

How To Treat An Ear Infection Naturally

Most ear infections clear up within three to five days and don’t need any specific treatment (1).

Because ear infections often clear up on their own, treatment may begin with managing pain and monitoring the problem (3).

Note: If you feel like your ear is “plugged” do not use any of these internal treatments and go see a doctor. Your eardrum may be damaged or perforated.

1. Garlic

Garlic is used to fight bacterial and fungal infections as well as viruses. It can also boost your immune system and reduce ear inflammation caused by the cold or flu (4).

How To Use Garlic:

  1. Take 2-3 fresh garlic cloves and boil them for 5 minutes,
  2. Crush them and add some salt.
  3. Put the mixture in clean cloth and place it onto the infected ear.

For best results, eat 2-3 cloves of raw garlic every day while using this treatment.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) works really well in treating ear infection caused by fungus (5).

In fact, investigations have demonstrated the effectiveness of diluted vinegar for the treatment of ear infections (otitis externa, otitis media, and granular myringitis).

How To Use :

  1. Mix ACV with an equal amount of water.
  2. Soak a cotton ball in the solution and place it in the ear for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the cotton ball.
  4. Lay down with the painful ear against a towel-covered pillow, this should encourage the solution to come out.
  5. Gently dry the inside of the ear with a hair dryer since bacteria tends to thrive in moist places.

3. Olive Oil

Olive oil is a superb way to clean an ear blocked with wax. Compacted wax stuck in the ear canal becomes a haven for bacteria, so this method works well to prevent and treat a mild infection (6).

How To Use :

  1. Place 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a clean bowl.
  2. Place the bowl inside a larger bowl filled with boiled water, making sure the water and oil don’t mix. This will warm up the solution so that it dissolves the wax easier.
  3. With a clean spoon or an eye dropper place a few drop of warm olive oil in the infected ear.
  4. Leave for a few minutes.
  5. Lay down with the painful ear against a towel-covered pillow to help the oil come out.

4. Himalayan Salt

Salt helps to fight infections. In fact, many ear doctors rinse infected ears with a saline solution before clearing away pus and wax.

How To Use :

  1. Put some salt in a pan and heat it at low temperature for several minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Place the warm salt in a clean cloth and close the open end tightly, twisting it shut.
  3. While it is still warm, place the cloth over the ear for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Repeat several times during the day. The heat will help the liquid come out from the ear and to alleviate the pain and the swelling.

5. Holy Basil Oil

In multiple studies, holy basil oil was proven to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties (7).

How To Use :

  1. Mix several drops of holy basil oil with equal parts coconut oil.
  2. With a cotton ball, wipe it on the inside the ear, around the outer edge and behind the ear.
  3. Repeat the treatment twice a day, wiping away the old oil before applying the new.

6. Warm Compress

A warm compress can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation and encourage the draining of pus from the infected ear.

How To Use :

  1. Soak a clean cotton cloth in warm water
  2. Squeeze the excess water out and put the cloth onto the painful ear. you may find it beneficial to place it behind the ear as well.
  3. Remove it after 5 minutes, and take a 3-5 minutes break.
  4. Repeat step 3-5 until the pain subsides.

7. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a powerful antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral solution (8). It can be quite strong if applied directly, so it’s best to mix it with some olive oil.

How To Use :

  1. Mix 3 drops of tea tree oil and two tablespoons of olive oil into a small bowl.
  2. Place the bowl inside a larger bowl filled with boiled water, making sure the water and oil don’t mix.
  3. Once warm, gently pour the oil into the ear and wait 5 minutes.
  4. Lay down with the painful ear against a towel-covered pillow until the whole mixture comes out.
  5. Repeat 2-3 times a day for two days.

Bonus: Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Performing a self lymphatic drainage massage can help relieve inflammation and drain lymph in the affected ares.

All these natural remedies can help you treat minor ear infections. However, if your earache doesn’t subside after 5-7 days or is accompanied by a “plugged” feeling, go see a doctor, it may require more specific treatment.

sources:
[1]http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/otitis-media/Pages/Introduction.aspx
[2]http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/earinfections.aspx
[3]http://www.healthline.com/health/ear-infections#Overview1
[4]https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/300.html
[5]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/#R17
[6]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072538/
[7]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/
[8]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/