Dossier: Home remedies

How to ease earache

There are different symptoms for earache: whistling, buzzing, a feeling of pressure and simply pain. Home remedies can often support the healing process.

Author: Julie Freudiger; photo: iStock

Earache is often caused by a middle ear infection. This is particularly common in babies and children up to the age of six. As you get older, the causes of earache usually change, for example inflammation of the external auditory canal, ventilation disorders in the middle ear, exposure to high levels of noise, eardrum injuries or jaw disease. The type of treatment that can help depends on the cause of the earache. If it’s simple earache, a few natural remedies may help. 

Fast remedies for earache

Keep the ears warm

Applying heat can help with many types of earache. It also boosts the blood flow and stimulates the metabolism, which aids the healing process. Lay a hot water bottle, cherry stone cushion or a warm pack on the ear that hurts. Make sure that it’s not too hot.

Apply an onion poultice

An onion poultice has two benefits: Heat helps, while the onion itself is said to have an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect. How it works: Dice an onion and steam it. Wrap it in a cloth. Check the temperature of the poultice on the back of your hand before applying it to the ear.

Clear your nose

The nasopharynx is connected to the ear. That’s why, if you have earache it can help to clear a blocked nose with a nasal rinse or saltwater nasal drops. Inhaling warm steam can also help. A middle ear infection is often caused by poor ventilation of the middle ear. Once the mucous membranes go down again, the ventilation usually improves, too. 

Chew chewing gum

Chewing has two important functions for the ear: First, the movement of the ear canal transports earwax outwards. And second, it indirectly improves the ventilation of the middle ear, because chewing stimulates the production of saliva, which means you have to swallow more often as a result. Chewing gum is therefore useful in case of earwax plugs or a tympanic effusion. However, if the ear canal is severely inflamed, chewing can be too painful. 

Don’t use oil!

You should never drip warm oil into your ear, as is sometimes recommended as a home remedy! And don’t clean your ears with cotton buds or sharp objects. This can quickly lead to injuries, which cause infections. The ear canal usually cleans itself. Large lumps of earwax have to be removed by a doctor. 

Expert tip

Markus von Grote, specialist in internal medicine

“To ease pain and reduce inflammation, over-the-counter medicines such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol are effective, as long as there are no underlying illnesses. Ear drops should only be used once the cause of the complaint is known. If the pain doesn’t go away on its own within a few days or you suffer from loss of hearing, dizziness or persistent ringing in the ears, you should see a doctor.”

To Medgate

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