Earache is also known as Ear pain (Scientific), kan ka dard (Hindi/Urdu), Kan dukhi (Marathi), Katuvali (Tamil), Er teng (Chinese), Dolor de oido (Spanish), dor de ouvido (Portuguese), karna shula (Bengali), bol’ v ukhe (Russian). The ear has three main parts: the outer (the ear lobe and ear canal), middle (the small space just behind the eardrum), and inner ear (the fluid-filled structures that translate mechanical vibrations into nerve impulses). Problems in the inner ear cause disturbances in hearing and balance, but not pain.
Earache Causes in Child
Dental problems (including teething in kids) can cause pain that seems to come from the ear. Earaches during childhood usually stem from middle ear infection. By the age of five, 80 % of children have had at least one episode. What happens: The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear, which is normally an air filled space, with the throat. Something – cigarette smoke, bacteria, viruses, or allergens inflames the Eustachian tube. Inflammation obstructs the tube, which traps microbes that entered from the throat. The microbes multiply. Accumulating fluid (from infection and inflammation) creates pressure against the eardrum, which hurts. Infants and small children are more vulnerable because their Eustachian tubes are shorter, more horizontal, and floppier, making collapse and obstruction of the tube easier. Earaches caused by infections of the middle ear (otitis media) are one of the most common ailments of childhood, especially in children younger than three. But this type of earache can strike adults, too. The problem often begins following a cold or a bout of sinusitis. Bacteria or viruses migrate into the middle ear via the Eustachian tube – the tubular structure that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat – where they cause inflammation and swelling. Swelling may block the Eustachian tube, trapping accumulating fluids and microbes and causing a painful throbbing along with a feeling of fullness. Consult your health care provider to rule out medical problems such as a perforated eardrum, then consider home remedies to ease the discomfort.
Earache Causes in Adults
Signs and symptoms of a middle ear infection include irritability, fever, batting or pulling at the ear, difficulty sleeping, decreased hearing, loss of balance, decreased appetite, and discharge from the ear. Trauma and infection can hurt outer ear. Bacterial and fungal infections in the ear canal as can happen to swimmers cause itching, redness, a feeling of fullness in the ear canal, diminished hearing, and increasing pain. Antibiotic eardrops fight bacterial infection; antifungal drops kill fungi; and steroid eardrops can decrease inflammation. Middle ear pain is caused by a pressure differential between the middle ear and throat. Blood tinged pus exiting the ear is a sign that the eardrum has ruptured. Often the pain immediately subsides. The eardrum usually heals itself. If the ear passage gets dried and crusty, it may start aching. The eardrum may even become tight and painful. However, before treating earache, it is important to first rule out several possibilities, such as infection (otitis externa or otitis interna), perforated eardrum, or excess wax causing pressure on the ear. Having ruled these out, one can then treat earache.
Earache – Ear Pain Relief Natural Remedies
Nevertheless, you should see the doctor. Unless recommended by your doctor, do not instill eardrops into the ear canal if you suspect a ruptured eardrum. Doing so could further contaminate or irritate the now-exposed middle ear. If the doctor prescribes an antibiotic or steroid ear drop, by all means use it.
- Garlic: Taken internally, Garlic can help cure a middle ear infection. A few drops of Garlic oil in the ear can’t hurt either. You can also try using a teaspoon of dried Echinacea in tea. OR Pierce a garlic oil capsule. You can get garlic capsules in health stores. Squeeze a few drops of the garlic oil onto a small cotton ball and place the oil dampened portion gently inside your ear. Leave enough cotton sticking out to make it easy to remove. Leave it in for several hours. OR Ease acute ear ache by inserting a clove of garlic into the affected ear.
- Tea Tree Oil: Begin by pulling down on the lobe of your painful ear. If this hurts, it means there is otitis externa, external ear infection. To heal the infection, take a cotton swab and dip it into tea tree oil, a wonderful natural disinfectant widely available at natural food stores and some pharmacies. Then apply the oil to the ear with the swab. Using plain tea tree oil may create a burning sensation on sensitive skin, so it is usually best to dilute it, using 10 to 20 drops of tea tree oil mixed in 1 ounce of sesame oil.
- Asafetida: It is a quick ear pain reliever remedy. Take a small amount of cotton, put a pinch of asafetida into it, and roll it into a capsule like shape. Place that ball of cotton into the outer ear. The fumes of the asafetida will quickly relieve ear pain.
- Sesame Oil + Garlic: Sesame oil and garlic makes a natural earwax cleanser. Sometimes the wax is stubborn and doesn’t come out easily. Soften the wax by lubricating it with warm garlic oil. Take about 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, add 1/2 clove of freshly chopped garlic, and boil it until the garlic pieces turn brown. It will have a pleasant smell. Then press the oil from the garlic, and strain it into a jar or other container. Plain sesame oil will also work, but the garlic oil will be more effective. Then, 2 or 3 times a day, put a few drops of that oil – when it is warm, not hot – into the ear. That will lubricate the ear passage and soften the wax for easy removal.
- Olive Oil: Built up wax can be treated by first using warmed olive oil as ear drops for a few days, then rinse the softened wax plug out with lukewarm chamomile tea.
- Onion: Combine 1 teaspoon fresh onion juice with 1/2 teaspoon honey. Mix well. Put 5 to 10 drops into the affected ear. The mixture should be room temperature or a little warmer before you put it in your ear. OR Wrap freshly cut onion slices in a dry cloth; place this onto the affected ear. After a very short while the onion warms and begins to break down. The pain disappears as the onion pulls out the pain.
- Heat Compress: Earache can also be moderated by heat. Take a handkerchief and put it on a warm (not hot) pan, fold it, and place it on the ear to give a little soothing external heat. OR Make a warm compress by soaking a hand towel in hot water (not hot enough to burn skin); wring out the excess. Fold the towel in thirds the long way and position it under your chin, wrapping the ends up alongside the jaw line and continuing up to your ears. Hold it there until the compress cools, then rewarm the towel in hot water and repeat. Do this two or three times a day.
- Oil: A few drops of oil on a cotton ball plugged into the ear relieves a mild earache.
- Lemon + Honey: Glue ear is a persistent condition in children in which there is a build up of sticky fluid in the middle ear. It may be caused by chronic nose or throat infection, but can also be due to allergies or exposure to draughts. Drink lemon and honey or cider vinegar to clear the mucus and to strengthen the immune system.
- Prevent the buildup of earwax. Once a month, sleep on your left side. Fill your right ear with warm sesame oil, and go to bed. The whole night, the ear passage will be soaked in the sesame oil. The wax will rise up toward the surface of the ear canal, and you can clean it out in the morning with a dry cotton swab. The next night, sleep on the other side and treat the other ear in the same way. This way you can avoid the tendency for excess earwax to form. Even a couple of hours with the oil filling the canal will do the trick.
Tips to Prevent Earache
- Use an ear candle (available from health stores) to heat and draw out excess wax. Constant prodding or cleaning of the ear can lead to excessive ear wax production.
- If you have an infant, know that breast feeding provides immune protection against a number of infections, including middle ear infections.
- Make sure you’re drinking lots of fluids. The act of swallowing tends to stimulate the muscles surrounding the Eustachian tube to contract, which may help trapped fluid to drain. Gargling with warm water can have a similar effect.
- Avoid getting irritants, such as hairspray, in your ear canals by gently plugging the outermost part of the canals with cotton balls while you’re spraying.
- If you’re traveling by air with an infant, try to nurse or bottle-feed him or her during takeoff and landing. sucking helps open the eustachian tube to equilibrate the pressure in the middle ear. If the baby starts to cry during a car ride, up and down the mountains, see whether a feeding relieves the discomfort. children age four and up and adults can chew gum to help open the eustachian tube. Younger children are at risk for inhaling gum into their lungs.