The underlying cause of an earache is usually the presence of an inflammation, this may come about due to an infection by a germ or wound, it can also happen because of a swelling in the outer canal, within the ear, or a swollen region near the eardrum, a swelling in the thin membrane that separates the outer and the middle ear usually leads to painful earaches. The normal function that the Eustachian tube, which is an opening extending from the middle ear to the throat, performs is the draining away of fluids from the ear, thus helping in clearing away excess fluid and in keeping the internal ear clean. Earaches are painful and an infection sets in because, the Eustachian tube gets blocked, an inflammation results which can irritate the ear canal leading to the accumulation of pus and other fluids inside the ear. Pathogenic bacteria, harmful viruses, or agents like fungi, are the usual suspects for the occurrence of earaches. Earaches themselves come about and can be said to be following an upper respiratory infection or seasonal allergies, an excess of moisture that is trapped inside the ear can also cause them. There are of course other physical causes including of atmospheric origin like the sudden changes in air pressure-which can also be induced during air travel, there are also internal reasons, which include excessive ear wax, the presence of physical wounds or trauma like a punctured eardrum, chlorinated water, chemicals in hair dye and other chemical irritants can also bring about earaches if they find their way inside the ear, in this case even insects can cause earaches to come along if they crawl into the ear, are unable to get out again.
Supplements and herbs
These substances given are not for therapeutic usage, nor are they intended as the primary agent that will bring relief from the pain, these supplements listed below play only a supportive role in the treatment and alleviation of the pain due to earache. In fact their usage is recommended only, for the immediate treatment of ear infection and pain, and for the relief of mild to moderate ear discomforts and only in conjunction with the use of antibiotics, analgesics, and other medical remedies. A qualified and professional medical practitioner must be consulted if there is a severe, lingering, or recurrent pain during the course of the ear infection.
Herbal eardrops made out of common herbs like garlic oil or mullein flower oil can be used alone or in a combined form to start the treatment. The presence of physical signs such as partial hearing loss or pus in the ears should be taken as an indicative sign and in these cases eardrops should not be used while these signs are present; because a ruptured eardrum is the very probable cause of such symptoms. Besides fighting off disease inducing microbes and helping in the reduction of the inflammation, garlic and mullein flower oils may relieve pain and itching inside the ear. For irritation in the outer ear, the oil of the lavender can prove to be very soothing if used as a rub on the outer ear. Since draining away the excess fluid is essential to ease pressure inside the ear, it become important that the Eustachian tube remains open this can be achieved by applying topical herbal oils, or having an eucalyptus oil steam bath, which will aid in this process. Until the pain in the ear goes away, the treatment can be repeated several times daily.
These supplements can also be consumed, as substances such as the immune system bolstering vitamins, like vitamin A and vitamin C play an important role in fighting infections internally; they also help in precluding any possibility of recurrence of the infections. Plant-based anti-inflammation agents flavonoids, can be used along with vitamin C, as the flavonoids boost its effectiveness within the body. Echinacea which can boost immune system function, can be extremely helpful, especially in cases where the causes of earache is due to an upper respiratory infection, a strong immune system will preclude such causes of earache.
Commonly used essential oils for earache:
Aconite is to be used as a supplement in cases where the ear infection or earache has come on quite suddenly; all such cases usually demand the usage of Aconite as a supplement. Being out in the cold and exposure to it can bring on the symptoms of painful earache. Psychological symptoms in children are things like the presence of fear. The patient may worsen the around midnight and may not improve even after two hours in the early morning.
Belladonna is to be used as a supplement in all earaches that come on very quickly and show symptoms. The pain is usually intense, the ear may look red and may even throb slightly, a fever and a high temperature may set in.
Chamomilla can be used as a supplement in cases where symptoms include an excruciating pain, psychologically children who need this particular treatment may show a bad temper. This may be allayed in the child if he or she is given some attention especially some physical tenderness. The pain can be eased greatly by some warmth and a warm ambience.
- Ferrum phos.
Ferrum phos. is to be used in cases where the pain caused by the earache comes on slowly and after a period of time has elapsed, the supplement is helpful in the early stages of infection. This particular supplement is to be used in cases where Belladonna has failed.
- Hepar sulph.
Hepar sulph. is a supplement to be used during the middle stages of inflammation, when pus build up has started. A thick yellow or green discharge is present in ears of children, and other physical distress such as a sore throat or a cold may also be present. A bad temper is the usual reaction of children as the pain is usually intense and the child will need warmth and affection.
Mercurius is to be used as a supplement in cases where the pain due to the earache may extend to the throat and mouth, there may be other physical signs like nasal discharges, occasionally blood-streaked and yellow in color. Swollen and hard glands in the face and neck may come on. Children can become thirsty easily and there may be profuse sweating, and there may be excessive and bad smelling salivation.
Pulsatilla is to be used as a supplement in cases where the aches may come and go with no particular pattern or continuity. Children can become weepy and irritable, but can become better when shown some affection and emotional sympathy. A cool ambience in the room will greatly ease the pain the child feels.
Additional things you may do
Using a warmed washcloth or a heating pad to prepare a warm compress, massage the outside of your ear, for instant physical relief from pain. The alleviation of pain caused by the earaches can be greatly aided by heat, as this can usually bring quick pain relief. Since the eardrum can be easily punctured it is advisable to avoid inserting a cotton swab, into your ear, even to clean it. It is unwise to use caustic fluids like hydrogen peroxide as a cleaner as the ear canal can become easily irritated and damaged by this chemical.
- Echinacea, 200 mg three times daily until infection clears. Standardized to contain at least 3.5% echinacosides.
- Eucalyptus oil, add several drops of essential eucalyptus oil to pot of water and bring it to boil. Remove from heat and place towel over pot and head. Inhale steam through the nose.
- Garlic oil, a couple drops in the ear two times daily. It may be used with mullein flower oil or alone.
- Lavender oil, apply a couple drops to the outer ear and rub in gently. Lavender oil can be used as needed during the day.
- Mullein flower oil, a couple drops in the ear two times daily. It may be used with garlic oil or alone.
- Vitamin A, 25,000 IU two times daily until symptoms improve. If still needed after seven days, the dosage should be reduced to 10,000 IU daily until symptoms are gone. Pregnant women should not exceed 5,000 IU daily.
- Vitamin C / Flavonoids, 1,000 mg vitamin C and 500 mg flavonoids three times dailyuntil infection clears. If diarrhea develops reduce the dosage of vitamin C.
Other beneficial herbs