If you are susceptible to earache, don’t leave home in cold weather without a hat or scarf over your head. Wear a bathing cap or use wax or silicon earplugs when swimming to avoid getting water in your cars. Try some of these home remedies to alleviate pain.
NOTE: Don’t insert any substance into the ear if there is a discharge or a risk of a perforated eardrum.
• Press a warmed wheat bag gently against a painful car, treat the ear with infrared light or rest your ear against a covered hot water bottle overnight.
• Pour clove oil on a cotton ball and insert it into the entrance to your ear canal to relieve pain.
• Make a paste with 3 tablespoons (45 ml) mustard powder and warm water, spread on a cloth and place behind the ear for 15 minutes.
• Try homemade ear drops: Mix 3 drops of tea tree oil and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive or almond oil and warm the mixture in a pan of hot water to body temperature. lip your head to the side and use an eyedropper or pipette to drip the drops into the affected ear.
• Place slices of raw onion behind your ear and hold them in place with a headband. It has long been known that onions have formidable anti inflammatory properties. This is a quick (if smelly) traditional home remedy.
• Even more effective, but a bit more work, is a chopped onion wrap (see below). The heat plays an additional role in soothing the pain. Hold the wrap in place with a woolen scarf or cap and leave it on the ear for 30 minutes. Apply three times a day.
- Cut two onions into thin rings and put them into a cloth bag.
- Place the bag over boiling water and warm it in the steam.
- Crush the onions with a rolling pin until the bag is soaked with juice.
- Place the bag over an aching ear and secure in place.
WHEN TO CONSULT A DOCTOR See a doctor immediately if your child has earache, if there is discharge from the ear or if an adult’s earache does not respond to home treatment within a short time.
The purpose of earwax is to protect the eardrums, keep the skin moist and guard against dust and other particles. Normally the car cleans itself, but sometimes wax builds up in your auditory canal and hardens into a plug. If water gets in, it will swell up and may partially or completely block your auditory canal.
NOTE Removal of a wax plug should be left to healthcare professionals—under no circumstances should you try to remove an earplug by inserting any kind of object into your ear.
• Mix a few drops of olive oil with a little lemon juice and water. Use a dropper to drip the mixture into your ear, softening the plug. Eardrops from a pharmacy are also suitable for this purpose.
If you have a constant noise in your ears, you may have tinnitus. The term refers to any ringing, rustling, humming or roaring sound that originates in the head, rather than from an external source of noise. Sometimes tinnitus goes away on its own, but usually these annoying auditory hallucinations can’t be cured—they can only be reduced.
• Make time for relaxation exercises and regular breaks in the daily routine.
• Improve blood circulation by alternating hot and cold water in your morning shower and consider starting a light exercise program.
• Drink lots of fluids to thin your blood and improve circulation to the inner ear.
• Enjoy a cup of lemon balm tea after a meal. It can have a positive effect on tinnitus.
• Avoid exposure to noise to prevent worsening the condition. Wear earplugs or earmuffs if your workplace is excessively noisy. However, total silence is also inadvisable, as it makes the tinnitus more noticeable.
• Have a subtle source of noise at hand, such as a radio or sleep sounds, particularly at night. When you are outdoors, the rustling of leaves or the splashing of a stream can mask the tinnitus.
WHEN TO CONSULT A DOCTOR If tinnitus is accompanied by sudden difficulty hearing, it is advisable to sec a doctor as soon as possible to eliminate rare but serious conditions.