A doctor should evaluate infants and very young children before you try home treatments to relieve what you think is ear pain. With infection, children can get quite sick very quickly. For children who do not show signs of an infection (and you know there is nothing inside the ear), you can try these home remedies for earache relief:
● Ice packs (wrapped in a cloth or towel) or warm compresses, placed on the outer ear, can help relieve pain. Keep it in place for about 20 minutes and repeat every few hours throughout the day.
● Keep your child upright when not sleeping. Lying down can increase pressure in the ear, increasing the pain.
● Over-the-counter (OTC) ear drops. These may help ease the pain. Ensure there are no signs of a perforated (broken) eardrum which include discharge from the ear, sudden and sharp pain, and hearing loss.
● A few drops of warm olive oil (if there is no sign of perforation).
● Keeping your child hydrated with extra water or other fluids.
If your child has an ear infection, your doctor might not prescribe antibiotics right away. The latest guidelines encourage a wait-and-see approach in many cases.
If your child has an ear infection but you are waiting to see if it will resolve on its own, you can still use the home remedies to help relieve the pain and pressure in the ear.
Treating earaches in adults
Unlike children, ear pain in adults is not usually related to infections. (Children have shorter Eustachian tubes, which makes them vulnerable to infections. These tubes lengthen as you grow, making infections less common in the teen and adult years.) At-home treatment for adult ear pain is the same as for children.
If you are concerned about ear pain, contact your doctor or the on-call doctor or nurse if it’s after hours. If you have repeated bouts of ear pain, ask your doctor if additional tests are necessary to determine the underlying problem and possible treatment options.