Maintaining healthy ears is essential as they allow us to hear the sounds of the world around us. However, we also depend on them for better balance when we stand, walk, and run. Fortunately, there are many home remedies that successfully treat these less severe earaches, or as a means of reducing the ear pain.
The Difference Between an Earache and Ear Infection
What you may have thought was an earache might actually be an ear infection. An ear infection is a bacterial or viral infection of the middle ear. This infection causes inflammation and the buildup of fluid within the internal spaces of the ear. Most ear infections will often clear up without treatment.
You do not have to have an infection to have ear pain. There are many common ailments that affect our ears include wax buildup, swimmer’s ear, barotrauma, and tinnitus.
Swimmer’s ear often occurs after swimming when water becomes trapped inside the outer ear canal, but it may also result from a scratch or other irritation within the ear. Typical signs of this infection include pain, itching, drainage, and feeling of fullness.
Inserting a few drops of a mixture of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar into the ear will help to ease the symptoms as rubbing alcohol will dry the ear out and the vinegar will help heal the infection. Leave it in for a few seconds to a few minutes, and then allow it to drain.
While meant to protect the inner mechanism of the ear, wax often builds up and results in blockage of the ear canal. Symptoms usually include dizziness, pain, and ringing.
An effective way to rid the ear of this buildup is with olive oil. Pouring a couple of drops of olive oil into your clogged ear can help loosen the earwax. Simply leave the drops in for a few minutes, then lay on a towel to allow it to drain out. Repeating this process once a week is an effective method of preventing wax buildup.
Also known as airplane ears, this is one of the most common medical conditions suffered by air travelers and occurs when ears become clogged due to the difference between the pressure of the airplane cabin and the middle ear, especially during ascent and descent. Symptoms can include dizziness, ear pain, pressure, ringing, and hearing loss.
Chewing gum, swallowing, sucking on a lozenge and yawning are common methods of preventing Barotrauma.
However, once clogged, the Valsalva maneuver is a very effective method to unclog the ears while flying. Simply take a deep breath, pinch the nose, close the mouth, and try to exhale gently through the nose. If successful, a “popping” sound will occur, and the symptoms should cease.
Tinnitus is characterized by a faint humming, buzzing, ringing, or screeching sound in one’s ears. Sometimes it resolves by itself, but other times it can persist. Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, but there are many health problems that can present with tinnitus as one of the symptoms. In terms of hearing loss, tinnitus is usually caused by aging, loud noises, obstructions in the middle ear, or chemical triggers.
If you are experiencing tinnitus, the first step to resolving it is to identify the cause. For example, if your tinnitus comes on after drinking a caffeinated beverage or taking aspirin, you will need to eliminate them from your diet. If your ears are sensitive to loud noises, avoid listening to your music too loud or going to places where loud music is played.
Tinnitus can also be significant signs of stress, severe flu, sinus infection or even TMJ so while the methods listed above are natural and, overall, very effective, one should consult a doctor if the pain is persistent or continues to increase.
If one has had ear surgery, has tubes in the ears, or has a perforated eardrum consult with a doctor before performing any home remedies.
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