We all know the feeling of our ears being sore and throbbing. Sometimes, the pain is so intense that any noise is hard to bear. You might even get a low-grade fever. At this point, we’re all looking for some quick relief.
During the fall and spring seasons, ear infections are more common than usual. We all fall victim to pain, pressure, and aches in the ear. And the worst part is, earaches don’t differentiate by age. The infection can torment people of all ages—toddlers get cranky, irritable, and simply impossible, teenagers are moodier, and adults can hardly function. So, with that being said, today we’ll talk about how to use essential oils for an earache.
What is an ear infection?
Before we get to how to use essential oils for an earache section, let’s first explain what an ear infection is. Most people know and understand when they have one. However, they don’t understand the structure of the ear and how all of the sections function.
The ear is divided into three sections: the inner, middle, and outer ear. Under normal conditions, these three sections work together like a symphony orchestra. The outer ear includes the parts of the ear that are visible and continues deep into the ear canal. The outer ear ends at the tympanic membrane, which, along with the tympanic cavity, forms the middle ear. The inner ear is composed of the cochlea, two important nerves, and the Eustachian tubes.
As mentioned, under normal conditions, these three work together to carry sound to your brain for translation. However, when you suffer from an ear infection, bacteria cause discomfort. One or more of these sections is under attack by bacteria or viruses. The result is swelling, redness, and sometimes even hearing the loss in the affected ear or ears. Before you start the treatment, you need to establish which ear is infected.
Which ear is infected?
Bear in mind that not all ear infections are equal.
For example, an outer ear infection is the easiest to diagnose and treat because it’s visible. Usually, outer ear infections are caused by water remaining in the ear from swimming, showering, or any other water activity. The common term for an outer ear infection is “swimmer’s ear.” Water and moisture make a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which means pain and discomfort.
An infection in the middle and inner ear occurs behind the tympanic membrane. The cause, in this case, is improper draining of the Eustachian tubes in the inner ear. When they are blocked, and they don’t allow proper drainage, the fluids become trapped in the middle ear. Again, moisture is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. In other words, as long as you keep your ears dry, you have no need to worry about ear infections.
The difference in pain between middle and outer ear infections is huge. For example, middle ear infections are less acute, but the pain is more intense.
What does traditional medicine recommend?
For earaches and ear infections, traditional medicine recommends using antibiotics. If you visit a doctor with an ear infection, the likelihood of getting antibiotics is high. Now, that might seem like a quick solution to the problem. But modern researchers have noted disadvantages to using antibiotics for treating ear infections.
The good thing about antibiotics is that bacterial infections respond quickly to them, and you will feel pain relief immediately. Antibiotics will eliminate the offending germs.
The downside is that not all ear infections are bacterial infections. Viruses are immune to antibiotics, meaning that you won’t eliminate them. According to research and statistics, 2 out of 10 ear infections are bacterial. The rest are virus infections.
An additional problem is that bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics due to excess exposure. Antibiotics are not specific for certain bacteria; instead, they are designed to be able to eliminate all bacteria. That’s actually a problem because you will also eliminate good bacteria.
The essential oils solution
With that in mind, I always recommend the use of natural remedies for infections and illnesses. One of the best natural remedies is using essential oils for earaches. Aromatherapy is becoming more and more popular in recent years, as people are starting to understand the benefits of essential oils. That being said, let’s take a look at which essential oils are effective for earaches.
You need to understand that ear infections require a high level of delicacy, which means essential oils that are gentle, yet still powerful.
Tea tree oil
This oil has long been praised for its antimicrobial properties. Because of that, tea tree oil has been found to be useful for skin infections and skin irritations. While it’s highly potent, when you mix it with a carrier oil, tea tree oil is diluted and harmless. It can combat both bacterial and viral infections. Most importantly, tea tree oil will reduce swelling in the ears and evacuate unwanted fluids.
Thyme is one of the best essential oils for earaches because it has antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. That means whatever germ is inside your ear, thyme will take care of it. Thyme has been praised as a healing wonder due to the thymol content, an active compound that can heal almost anything.
When it comes to essential oils, lavender is one of the most popular and commonly used. Lavender is praised for its calming scent and the calming effect it has on our body and soul. For years, aromatherapy practitioners have used lavender for relieving pain and calming your body. In terms of ear infections, lavender can relieve pain and promote blood circulation in the ear, improving your ability to heal.
Basil is another oil that has antiviral and antibacterial properties, making it effective against any cause of an ear infection. Basil provides immediate relief as well as long-term prevention against germs. Most importantly, basil will reduce the swelling that’s causing the blockage of your inner and outer ear.
Pure garlic oil has a high concentration of allicin (the reason we consume garlic). This compound reduces inflammation and soothes the pain. Allicin is an antioxidant that’s highly beneficial for our overall health. In addition, garlic has antibacterial properties. It is best used when mixed with a small amount of olive oil and then topically applied to the outer and inner ear. Never use it undiluted.
Peppermint might be one of the more potent and less gentle oils. However, if you mix it with olive oil or any other carrier oil, you have nothing to worry about. Because of its mint content, peppermint oil reduces inflammation. When you feel pain due to an earache, peppermint will take care of it. Peppermint can even be used for children, although you should be cautious and dilute it.
Mustard oil is often overlooked despite its potent antibacterial properties and capabilities, which make mustard an effective remedy for ear infections. In addition, mustard has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Unlike other essential oils for earaches, you can mix mustard with water. Other oils are better used when diluted in a carrier oil.