An ear infection is typically caused by a virus, which affects the area of space behind the eardrum, also known as the middle ear, says MayoClinic.com. They are common in children, but adults can suffer from the pain and pressure of an ear infection as well. A round of antibiotics is in order if you think you have an ear infection, but they won't help to ease the pain while your infection heals. Help soothe a painful ear infection using heat and over-the-counter medications.
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Apply a warm compress or a hot water bottle to the ear, suggests MedlinePlus. Fill a hot water bottle with water, screw on the cap and slip under your ear as you lie in your side in bed. Or wet a washcloth with moderately warm water, wring out the excess and fold into quarters before holding to your ear. The heat can help soothe the pain while you wait for the infection to heal.
Warm a teaspoon of olive, vegetable or coconut oil in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds, suggests Dr. William Sears of the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Test the oil on the inside of your arm before you place in your ear to ensure it's not too hot. Place the oil in a medicine dropper, tilt your head so your healthy ear is facing the floor, and drop in the oil. This will help warm your ear to relieve pain.
Take an over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help relieve swelling and pain in your ear. Follow all package directions when you take painkillers, and never consume more than eight pills per day. If your child is too small for adult painkillers, purchase children's drops instead, noting your child's weight and the proper dosage based on age and weight found on the packaging.
Call your doctor and schedule an appointment if you haven't already done so. Ear infections can be dealt with quickly with a round of antibiotics, but if you wait too long, you're only prolonging the pain. If you or your child suffers from frequent ear infections, your doctor may suggest surgery to help the middle ear drain more effectively. Otherwise, follow your doctor's instructions concerning antibiotic dosage and ear care.