Remedies & Treatments

Earache Remedies: Natural Solutions for an Annoying Problem

ear pain guide

Overcoming an earache isn’t always easy. And for a number of people they will continue to return frequently and if you’re one of those people, it will become an issue that you desperately want to resolve. After all, no one wants to spend all of their time suffering..

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So what should you be doing to help overcome your earaches? It’s actually quite simple. There are several options available.

What is an earache?

An earache is pain that occurs inside the ear. It happens for a number of different reasons including fluid build-up in your ear, boils in the ear canal, eczema in the ear canal, damage to the canal by something being poked inside, earwax buildup, throat infections, jaw pain, dental problem or even facial nerve problems. These can add up to a small amount of pain (like a minor ache) or a severe, sharp pain. It can also come and go so you might not have pain at all times but it seems to always come back.

Ear Diagram

For most, an earache will occur during childhood. It tends not to occur as frequently in adults though it is possible and if you have experienced a lot of ear problems as a child that continued into adulthood you may be more susceptible to these types of problems.

It’s important to notice that they could occur in babies as well, which may be difficult to understand or even notice. You’ll want to keep an eye on them as well as younger children. There are also several different ways that you can look out for earaches as well, so make sure you understand the symptoms.

Earache symptoms

Depending on the age of the person suffering, there are many different things that can happen if you develop an earache. The only way to know for sure is to visit a doctor who will check inside the ear. You aren’t able to see into your eardrum on your own after all. What your doctor looks for is swelling or inflammation rather than a pink/grey color of your eardrum. But before you go to the doctor there will be other symptoms that you will recognize that may lead you to visit your doctor.

Doctor examining ear

Some of the most common symptoms in babies and small children are a lack of appetite, irritability and rubbing or pulling at the ear. They may also have a temperature, coughing, runny nose, balance problems, sleep problems and trouble hearing.

Any of these symptoms alone may not seem like much, however if your children are experiencing more of these symptoms you may want to take them to see a doctor. A doctor will be able to interpret whether their symptoms are signs of an earache or something even more serious (or less serious).

Treating earaches


One of the most common methods of treating earaches is with antibiotics. If you go to your doctor (or take your child to the doctor) they will probably prescribe an antibiotic that is intended to take care of the problem quickly and easily. This is intended to cure the earache fast so that there is less suffering. Of course, it’s been proven with science also that these types of treatment may not work out properly and you may simply be spending time and money on a method that will not be completely effective.

Earache remedies

Over the counter pain reliever

Another method of treating earaches is to use over-the-counter methods. These over-the-counter medications may be in the form of eardrops or in the form of pain-killers. An earache causes a lot of pain after all.

Pain-killers (usually pills) will take care of the pain that your child is experiencing. These pills don’t do anything to actually cure the earache and they won’t resolve the major issue but they will help your child to feel much better by taking away the pain that they are experiencing and helping them to relax. This can also allow them to get more rest and that will allow them to overcome the earache much faster.

Wet compress

A compress is another way to help relax the ear. These could be cold or hot (either has been found to be very effective). You want to saturate the cloth and press it to your ear for approximately 20 minutes. Make sure you understand the nature of your earache before you use a compress to help relieve the pain. If you have an ear infection and you get water into it you could actually increase the amount of damage that is done to your ear.

If you don’t have an infection you can get a little water in your ear without too much damage (though you don’t want to drip water into your ear intentionally). This means if a little water runs off the compress and into your ear you don’t need to be too concerned. Your eardrum is capable of accepting a small amount of water and, actually in healthy individuals that do not have a history of ear problems, water will cause little to no effect. After all, you’ve probably gone swimming before and never had any problems with the water.

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If you do have trouble with water in your ears you may want to talk with your doctor to find out if you have an ear infection or if something more serious is wrong. After all, there are more serious problems that can occur in your ears and your eardrum which may be discovered by earaches or ear infections.

Remedies for earaches infographic

If you have trouble with water as well it could be a sign of something else and you’ll want to check with your doctor to find out what’s really wrong and whether you should be doing something else about it.

Oil/naturopathic drops

These types of drops are different from the regular ones you’ll get from a doctor or even over-the-counter. Instead, they are made with natural ingredients. Oil drops are actually great to reduce earwax because they break it down. On the other hand, they also can reduce the amount of pain experienced (though this hasn’t really been proven). If your eardrum bursts you don’t want to use any type of oil as this can cause a lot of harm to your eardrum.

Oil and naturopathic drops

Naturopathic drops are generally created with some type of herbal remedy. They are made with different herbs mixed together with olive oil which helps to soothe the ear. You want to heat them slightly to make sure they are warm (but not hot) when you put them into your ear. No matter which of these drops you use you want to make sure that you are only using a couple drops at a time. Tilt your head to the side and let the drops fall in.

Then you want to make sure that you are keeping your head tilted to the side so the drops have enough time to work their way down completely and help you as much as possible. They can only heal if they make it all the way down after all.


For small children a method that can work at times is to distract them. You just need to find something that they will enjoy doing and you’ll be able to help them to relax and overcome the problem without even noticing. When you’re able to do this, it helps your child feel better. They end up doing something interesting, something that they enjoy, and then they don’t realize that their ear hurts. This can be nice for them and for you at the same time.

Chiropractic help

Have you ever visited a chiropractor? If you haven’t then you should definitely consider it. There are actually a lot of different things that re-aligning your body can do. It can help you if you have back pain or neck pain but it can also help if you have allergies, a lot of colds or even problems with your ears. So check it out. You may find that a chiropractic adjustment is actually going to cure the problems that you are already experiencing in regards to your earache. Plus you’ll probably feel a lot better when you’re done with your appointment. Also check out our article on natural treatment for sinus infections to help you.

Steam inhalation

If you’ve never used a steam inhalation you should know that it’s best for things like colds and earaches that are caused as part of a cold. What you do is heat up some water. You then want to add a variety of different herbs into your heated water. These could be things like chamomile, elderberry flowers and even lemon balm. They will smell pretty good and they’re also going to relieve some of the stuffiness and even pain that you feel as a result of your cold.

Steam inhalation

If you really want to get the most of this method you want to put a towel over your head so that there is nowhere for the steam to go but into your face. You would lean over the pot of water and breathe in the steam slowly and deeply. Take a few minutes to absorb the steam into your body and you will start to feel better very quickly. The steam actually starts to clear out congestion and even swelling in your throat or ears fast and it does this just by breathing it. You don’t have to actually drink the water or even apply it to your ears.

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Another thing you can do for this is just to use plain steam that’s made from heating up water. You don’t need to add the herbs in because you’ll still get the benefits of the steam and the heat. You can actually do this with a humidifier or with a hot shower. Just make sure your head is near the steam itself and that you are breathing it in deeply. You’ll be able to reduce all different types of congestion and you’re going to improve your ears as well (it’s all tied in together after all).

Hair dryer

This one may seem a little strange but some have actually found that it works very well. A hair dryer gives off a humid type of heat, especially if you’ve just gotten out of a bath or a shower. What you want to do is take a shower or bath and then turn a hair dryer on a low heat. Keep it away from your ear so that it’s only giving a little bit of a lighter heat and warmth on the inside of the ear and not anything too hot. Too much heat could cause damage.

You want to make sure that you don’t dry your ear completely with a towel before you start using the hair dryer because this is going to help make sure there’s enough moisture. If you don’t have a lot of moisture you could end up just heating your eardrum and that’s not going to do any good at all. You also don’t want to use the blow dryer on your ear for too long because it’s going to result in damage to your ear or some overheating. Make sure you continue to keep the heat far from your ear as well.

Lack of treatment

A lack of treatment for ear infections (which can be a cause of earaches) is extremely dangerous. You want to make sure that you treat an earache in any of the manners we’ve explained because if you don’t, these are the things that can happen:

  • Inner ear infection
  • Scarring on the eardrum
  • Hearing loss
  • Facial paralysis
  • Infection in the skull
  • Meningitis
  • Speech development problems

Any of these can be extremely dangerous to you and that means you want to make sure that you are treating ear infections and seeing your doctor very early on. They will help you understand what the best options are.

Preventing your earaches

If you or your child seem to get ear infections or even if you’ve never had one before you want to make sure that you are doing whatever you can to avoid developing them. They are a lot of hassle after all and that means you should consider several options toward prevention. These can include protecting yourself and your children from colds and the flu. After all, these are two of the most common ways that ear infections begin and if you don’t get sick in the first place it can protect you immensely.

Also see: Cough Remedies: Best Conservative Treatments

Also, you want to avoid putting anything into your ear that might be intended to cut down on the amount of wax near the eardrum. This can actually cause harm to the eardrum and it just might cause an earache on its own. This is especially true if you actually poke the eardrum itself or if you push anything (such as wax or another foreign item) into or closer to the eardrum. You want to make sure that this doesn’t happen and, luckily, it’s one of the easiest ways that you can completely avoid.

Try to avoid tobacco smoke as this can cause a lot of different health problems. One of the biggest problems is an increased risk of an earache. If you’re careful to avoid smoke as much as possible you’ll be able to reduce your risks.

Avoid tobaco smoke

Try to make sure that you are avoiding as many potential health risks as possible and that you are keeping your small children away from them as well. This will include breastfeeding your infants if at all possible and keeping careful control of any allergies that you or your child may possess. Allergies can act in many of the same ways as colds and the flu which means they may result in ear infections and earaches.

In conclusion

Many different methods exist to help you or your child overcome an earache. What you should understand is that a number of these methods are not actually going to cure the earache but they will help you to feel a little better and they will definitely help you get your mind on something else.

Try out several different of these techniques. Whether you only work on techniques to relieve the pain or you actually try to cure the earache completely you’ll want to try out a few different methods. You never know what’s going to work for you unless you try it.

An earache doesn’t have to last long. If you take the time to recognize the symptoms right away you’ll be able to treat it more quickly. What that means is you’re going to get back to living your life and enjoying yourself a lot faster. Look over these treatments.

Try them out the next time you or your child has an earache and see which ones work best. Just because one of them (or more) work for one person doesn’t mean they will for everyone. So try to pick out at least a few different methods of treatment and you’ll be able to feel better in no time.

Do read our previous article on how to get water out of your ears for more information that can prevent earache.

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About the author

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor is passionate about helping developing countries and people worldwide to deal with infections and diseases. She is certified in Workplace Emergency First Aid, Red Cross First Aid and Marine First Aid. Nora lives in Vancouver, BC, but travels to Africa and Asia every year. Her dream is that one day we can conquer many known diseases through a proper preparation and education of people in all parts of the world.


  • I agree on the distraction method.

    On the off chance that my child is combating an ear infection, I do my best to get them comfortable by taking their thinking off the torment. Put on their favorite movie, bring home another coloring book, let them play a game on my mobile or tablet, get their most loved nibble, or just find different things for them to concentrate on.

    This strategy also works for me. I treat myself to a decent book or a most beloved film to take my psyche off the ear infection.

  • Thank you for sharing your experiences Wayne. I’m glad you are able to distract yourself and your kid, not many others can do that successfully.


  • I would take a little bit of vodka and heat it up, add some honey and use that as ear drops.
    It is important to keep that warm though because cold liquid hurts if gets in the ear canal.

    • Hi James,
      This is a good natural remedy, but you should always consider alternative treatments, and even consulting an ENT.

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