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Home remedies for earaches

Earache can be anything from mild irritation and itching in the ear, to incapacitating pain and ringing that doesn’t stop. Left untreated, the pain can be debilitating. Sleeping or eating may seem impossible when your ear and head are throbbing!  Earache is also a common childhood ailment. 

Earache is either caused by bacteria, fungi, or a virus. 

Symptoms may include:

  • pain in the ear and throat, 
  • headaches, 
  • difficulty sleeping, 
  • fever, 
  • hearing problems, 
  • tugging on the ear to relieve pressure, 
  • vomiting 
  • diarrhoea.


What can you do about the pain at home? 

Remember that home remedies are often passed down through generations and aren’t necessarily supported by science. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try them, but it is always recommended that your first port of call is getting medical assistance from a professional. 

Not all earache is bacterial, and it isn’t always necessary to get mainstream medication. Consult a doctor if you experience severe pain. 

Home remedies can relieve less severe earaches and reduce pain. 

Over-the-counter medication

According to Healthline, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) can temporarily reduce earache pain. You can try ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin. 

Please note – it is not safe to give aspirin to babies or young children. They risk getting a potentially life-threatening condition called Reye’s syndrome, which causes serious liver and brain damage. Treated incorrectly, it can lead to permanent brain injury -and in some cases, death. Speak to your doctor before giving over-the-counter drugs to a child under 12.

Cold or warm compresses

Cold or warm compresses relieve many types of pain. They work for earache too, and are safe for adults and children. 

A heat compress includes an electric heating pad or hot pack. The heat reduces inflammation and earache. Apply a hot pad to your ear for 20 minutes. The hot pad works best when it touches your neck and throat too. 

The heating pad must be bearable. Never fall asleep with a heating pad, and do not allow a child to use a hot pack without an adult present. 

A cold pack has the same healing properties as a heating pad. Wrap ice in paper towels or cover a frozen cold pack with a light cloth. Hold the pack to your ear and under your ear for 20 minutes. 

The cold is not painful, but don’t apply it directly to a child’s skin. 

You can alternate hot and cold packs every 20 minutes. The alternating may provide the best pain relief.

Ear drops

If the cause of your earache is fluid or earwax, ear drops can reduce pressure in your ear. Read the directions carefully or speak to your doctor first.

Ear drops do not substitute prescription ear drops or antibiotics. You can only use them for a few days. If your symptoms return, you should see your doctor. 

Do not use ear drops in a child with tubes in their ears or if their eardrum has ruptured. 

Olive oil

 Olive oil used for ear pain is a folk remedy. There is no scientific backing for putting drops of olive oil in your ear canal can soothe earache. However, a few warm drops of olive oil in your ear is safe can be effective – and many moms and home remedy aficionados will stand by that.

Discuss this method with your doctor first, especially if the technique it’s for your children. If approved, the olive oil must be no warmer than your body temperature. By using a thermometer, you avoid burning the eardrum. 


Ear pain radiates from the jaw or teeth. A gentle massage on that area or surrounding muscles can ease ear pain and a tension headache. 

Use a downward motion. Apply pressure behind the ears and down the neck. As you continue to apply pressure downward, work to the front of the ears. 

This type of massage may drain excess fluid from your ears. It can prevent the earache from worsening.


Garlic is known as a folk medicine to relieve pain. Some research suggests its potential antimicrobial properties fight infection. It is not a substitute for the doctor’s recommended antibiotics. However, adding garlic to an antibiotic process can speed up relief. 

Eating a clove of garlic every day may prevent ear infections. Garlic ear drops are also an option. They reduce pain and prevent further infection. They make the drops by cooking two or three cloves in two tablespoons of mustard or sesame seed oil until they brown. Strain the mix and apply a drop or two to each ear. 

Neck exercises

Pressure in your ear canal can cause earaches. Neck exercises, such as neck rotation exercises, may relieve stress. Here are neck rotation steps to follow:

  • Sit up straight with both feet flat on the ground. 
  • Slowly rotate your neck and head to the right. Your cranium must be parallel with your shoulder. 
  • Rotate your head in the opposite direction. Your head must be parallel to your left shoulder. 
  • Raise your shoulders high. 
  • Do the movements slowly and hold for a count of five seconds, then relax. 
  • You can repeat the exercises when you wake up. 

Take a break from antibiotics.

Many ear infections disappear on their own. Home remedies may save your day.

A tear in the eardrum may cause ear pain. In this instance, any type of home remedy that entails putting anything into the ear can cause problems. Also, these remedies aren’t appropriate for people who have tubes in their ears.

It is always best to see a doctor if an ear infection is suspected. The doctor may recommend some home remedies or choose to treat the infection with pharmaceuticals.

Affinity Health members can call 0861 11 00 33 to consult with an Affinity Health primary healthcare consultant, who will assess your symptoms and give you medical advice before issuing you with a script for medication or referring you to consult with an Affinity Health network GP.


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