Although most common in children, ear infections occur in people of all ages. Often, ear infections are complications of the cold or a respiratory infection, but they also can result from irritants such as water being trapped inside the ear. People with ear infections often complain of sharp pain, sometimes accompanied by a feeling of fullness or pressure inside the ear, which is caused by fluid pushing against the eardrum. Most people with ear infections begin to feel better within two to three days after starting a prescribed course of antibiotics.
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Take a pain reliever such acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin before bedtime. Never give aspirin to children under the age of 2 or children and teenagers with chickenpox or flu-like symptoms due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a condition that causes swelling in the brain and liver.
Prop up your head with several pillows, which can help clear the Eustachian tubes. To elevate the head of your bed, place 5- to 6-inch wood blocks under the bed feet, or buy a wedge pillow, available at many medical supply stores and pharmacies, which you can place between your mattress and box springs.
Sip water before you go to sleep. Swallowing can help trigger the muscles that help the Eustachian tubes open and drain, thereby reducing pain.
Take an over-the-counter decongestant or nasal spray before you go to sleep, if your ear infection is related to sinus or nasal congestion. You can also try a decongestant nose spray. Only use a nasal decongestant for a day or two, as overuse can worsen nasal congestion.
Place a few drops of warm olive or garlic oil and a drop of mullein oil or lobelia oil -- available at many natural grocery stores and pharmacies -- in your ears, then plug your ears loosely with cotton balls.