Most ear pain is caused by inflammation or infection in the middle ear. Although ear infections are more common in children, adults can also develop middle ear infections, or otitis media. According to he American Academy of Otolaryngology, fluid accumulation inside the ear can block the Eustachian tubes and lead to pressure changes, ear inflammation and earache. Most people with acute ear infections recover without treatment, according to Merck. Because of this, many doctors advise taking a wait-and-see approach or advocate home treatment for the first 72 hours after symptoms develop.
Apply warm compresses to the affected ear and leave in place for 15 to 20 minutes. The heat will help reduce any inflammation in the middle ear and ease pain. A hairdryer set to warm on the lowest setting is also effective. Hold the hairdryer about 18 inches from the affected ear for 15 minutes.
Sleep in a semi-upright position, such as in a chair or on several stacked pillows. This will reduce pressure in the ear caused by fluid accumulation, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Chew gum or yawn to relieve earaches caused by a pressure imbalance between the inner and outer ear. Changes in altitude are the most common reason for this type of ear pain. Chewing and yawning help open the valves responsible for equalizing ear pressure, thereby decreasing pressure and reducing pain.
Heat up some mineral oil or olive oil and administer a few drops to the affected ear using an eyedropper. This home remedy for ear pain is safe and effective as long as there is no rupture of the eardrum, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Dilute tea tree oil with vegetable or mineral oil and administer to the affected ear. Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties that may help treat ear infections, and the oil will feel soothing to inflamed ears. Use an eyedropper to place two to three drops in the affected ear. Make certain to warm the oil to body temperature first, as cold drops may cause significant dizziness. The MotherNature website warns against using tea tree oil in the ear if there is any possibility that the eardrum may be ruptured.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to relieve pain and swelling. The Mayo Clinic warns against giving aspirin to children under the age of 16, as doing so may cause Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.
Ingest a decongestant if your earache is caused by sinus pressure from a cold or other illness. Merck states that decongestants that contain phenylephrine are helpful for ear pain caused by sinus or nasal congestion, and antihistamines may be beneficial to those with allergy-related congestion. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders warns that these medications are not recommended for use in young children or for the treatment of ear pain caused by infection.
Things You'll Need
Tea tree oil
Over-the-counter pain reliever
Over-the-counter decongestant or antihistamine
Middle ear infections are very common, according to the University of Maryland Medicine, with approximately three-quarters of children developing at least one ear infection before their third birthday.
Untreated otitis media can lead to speech and language delays, permanent hearing loss or severe infections elsewhere in the head. For this reason, any earache that persists after a few days of home treatment requires medical evaluation.