When you experience an ear ache, it means something has gone wrong in the middle ear, which is the little space behind the eardrum. The Eustachian tube, a thin canal, joins the middle ear to the back of the throat. It lets fluids drain away, and it’s also where the pressure inside adjusts to the pressure outside. When fluid accumulates inside the tube, which can happen even when you have a common cold, it can cause a lot of pain. Besides, bacteria thrive in the fluid, and it can lead to infections. The other reason for an earache is the build-up of too much earwax. There are proper procedures to flush it out, but inserting an ear-bud to clean it, as people usually do, can actually push it further in and cause more pain.
An earache can bring back unpleasant memories of childhood, since it is mostly during this period of life that the problem occurs, but it can and does afflict adults too. The problem can be addressed from the outside-in by administering the right kind of drops, or inside-out with soups and gargles which help in draining out mucus and expanding the Eustachian tube. Warm and cold treatments can also relieve the pain.
Dropping a few drops of warm baby oil, mineral oil or olive oil into the ear can help ease the pain. You need to be extra careful, though, that the oil is not too warm or else it may damage the eardrum.
Drain it, dry it
- Drink a lot of water everyday. The Eustachian tube opens up by the related muscular action when you swallow water, thus allowing them to drain.
- Salt-water gargles can be of great help. It augments blood circulation to the Eustachian tubes and reduces any swelling that may be blocking them.
- Take tablets of echinacea or goldenseal; the former is effective in warding of infections and the latter dries up the fluid inside. Some other herbs that may be useful are licorice, plantain and thyme, which can be taken as teas to ease pain.
- Sleeping with an extra pillow to prop up your head can help drain excess fluid by the force of gravity, easing the pressure inside which causes pain.
Hot and cold
Lie down on one side and place a hot-water bottle, with warm water inside, upon your ear. It will improve blood circulation to the ear and ease pressure and pain.
Use garlic to relieve pain
- Consume one or two raw cloves of garlic daily. It helps in fighting viruses and bacteria. Not everyone can chew raw garlic cloves, so you may crush them and mix them with whatever you are eating.
- If taking raw garlic causes problems in your stomach, take a garlic capsule after each meal.
- Mix the juice of garlic cloves, an antibacterial juice and olive oil and pour into your ear to counteract the infection.
Get rid of the earwax
When excess wax (cerumen) is produced, or you unintentionally push it further back while trying to clean it with an ear-bud, it accumulates and hardens and blocks the ear deep inside, causing pain. Besides pain, it can impair hearing. You need to first soften up the wax, and then flush it out with an ear wash with warm water.
However, if the above remedies don’t work, or if the pain is too much and doesn’t go away in a few days, or if the pain is accompanied by fever, you should visit your doctor. And if the pain is caused by a ruptured eardrum, you should directly visit your doctor instead of experimenting with the above remedies.