Ear infections can come on suddenly and be extremely painful. There are many effective natural remedies for ear infections, including garlic, olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
How to Naturally Treat an Ear Infection
Sometimes remedies are put directly into the ear. Other remedies are taken orally. Some are applied topically around the ear, but not directly in the ear.
Garlic fights viruses, bacteria and fungus. This kitchen remedy can be used several different ways.
A few drops of garlic oil can be dropped into the ear or massaged behind and around the ear.
Minced fresh garlic can be lightly heated in olive oil on the stove. The resulting oil can be cooled and a few drops added to each ear.
A garlic “tooth” can be carefully peeled and wrapped in a piece of cloth, tissue, or empty tea bag. The garlic is then placed in the opening of the ear. (Choose a piece large enough that it will not actually go into the ear.) Use a bandana to keep the garlic at the ear opening for a couple of hours or overnight.
Onion, in the same family as garlic, is another great ear infection remedy. Take a large slice of onion and heat it in the oven until it is soft. Allow it to cool to body temperature. Test it on your wrist and make sure it isn’t too hot. Wrap the onion in a damp cloth and hold against the infected ear for 15-30 minutes.
Coconut oil is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. It is also gentle. This makes it suitable for a variety of infections. If the coconut oil is solid, take a tiny dab and place into the opening of the ear. If the coconut oil is liquid, add a couple of drops to the affected ear or massage behind the ear.
Apply a few drops of olive oil to a piece of cotton ball and place into the ear opening. Leave it in for several hours or overnight. Change to a fresh cotton ball with olive oil after several hours or overnight. Sometimes olive oil is referred to as “sweet oil.”
Mullein is an herb that fights infection and helps to get fluids moving. Mullein oil is easy to make. It can also be bought online or at health food stores. Add a few drops of mullein oil to the affected ear 2-3 times each day.
Recipe for Mullein Oil
Fill a small jar with dry mullein leaves or flowers. Cover the mullein with olive oil. Allow this to steep for 2 weeks. Strain out the plant material through a coffee filter. (Do not use a mesh strainer as the irritating hairs from the mullein leaves will end up in the resulting oil.) This oil will keep for several months.
3% hydrogen peroxide, in the brown bottle in the grocery store or drug store, can be added to the ear. It will bubble in the ear as it fights infection and dissolves ear wax.
Alcohol and White Vinegar
The alcohol and white vinegar is especially helpful for swimmer’s ear. Mix together equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol. Drop several drops into each ear 2-3 times each day. For those who frequent the swimming pool, using this remedy after each swim can prevent fungal ear infections in those who are prone to them.
The alcohol helps to dry out the ear. The vinegar fights infections. In fact, researchers have discovered that vinegar can clear infection in antibiotic-resistant infections of the ear.
Hold a washcloth under very hot water. Put the hot wet washcloth into a mug. Lean the head over the mug to allow the steam to get into the ear. The warm moist steam can help break up congestion in the ear and relieve pain.
A heating pad or warm rice sock will also provide pain relief and can be used alongside other remedies to treat the infection.
Cayenne pepper, taken internally can relieve ear infections. Cayenne can kill infection and also promote drainage of fluids in the head. Simply add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to 6 ounces of juice. For sensitive stomachs it is best to take the tonic with a snack or small meal. This can be taken a couple of times a day.
Certain foods seem to aggravate those who are prone to ear infections. Dairy products are common irritants to those who struggle with ear infections as they tend to increase mucous production. Ice cream and homogenized milk tend to be the most common culprits.
Sugars and processed foods can satisfy hunger but when consumed too often can leave the body with nutritional deficiencies.
Causes of Ear Infections
Ear infections can be caused by a virus, bacteria or fungus. Antibiotics are the traditional way to treat ear infections. However, antibiotics cannot get rid of a fungal or viral ear infection. When antibiotics are used to treat bacterial ear infections, the infection returns after a time.
Research has found that natural remedies like garlic and mullein have been found to be as effective as the antibiotic amoxicillin.
Natural remedies do not carry the risks of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria or fungal infections as a result of antibiotic treatment.
Ear infections, especially middle ear infections, are often secondary infections. The common cold, influenza, and sinus infections may all proceed an ear infection.
The sinuses, throat, and nasal cavities are in close proximity to the ear, making it easy for infection to get to the ears from these areas.
Infections of the outer ear are usually bacterial or fungal in nature. These infections are frequent among swimmers. Outer ear infection and swimmer’s ear are commonly used interchangeable to described these types of infections.
- Even if only one ear seems to be infected, it is wise to treat both ears as it is common for the infection to begin in the other ear shortly thereafter.
- If an eardrum is ruptured, do not choose remedies that are put directly into the ear.
- Essential oils should not be used in the ear. Even diluted essential oils are very strong!
- If there is severe pain or accompanying fever it is ideal to consult a health professional.
Continue reading to see how our readers have treated their ear infections naturally and at home.