Two types of earaches are most common: otitis externa, a severe and stabbing pain that is sometimes accompanied by fever and loss of hearing; the second, otitis media, is associated with irritation, itching, discharge (such as a boil or abscess), and temporary, mild hearing loss.
What is an Earache and/or Ear Infection?
From Modern Western Medicine
The most common form of earache, otitis media, is caused by infection of the middle ear and is what most young children suffer from when they have an earache. Bacteria and viral infections cause inflammation and blockage in the eustachian tubes, which results in pain. Such earaches account for nearly 1/3rd of all doctor’s visits for children up to the age of 5.
Otitis externa (inflammation of the outer ear canal) is often caused by infection from bacteria growing in the ear, caused most commonly by water infiltrating the ear canal while swimming or showering (swimmer’s ear). Infection may be localized or affect the whole canal.
A much rarer cause of earache is herpes zoster infection, which causes blisters in the ear canal and may persist for weeks or months after the infection has cleared.
Dental problems, tonsillitis, throat cancer, pain in the lower jaw or neck muscles, and other disorders affecting areas near the ear may cause occasional earaches as well.
Analgesics for pain and antibiotics for infection are often prescribed. Pus in the outer ear may need to be aspirated, which requires a visit to your doctor. Pus in the middle ear may require draining through a hole made in the eardrum.
From Traditional Medicine
Many chronic or recurrent middle ear infections have a nutritional basis. A diet rich in mucus-forming foods, such as fatty foods, refined grains, artificial ingredients, dairy products, sugar, wheat, and excessively cold drinks will all bring on ear infection in children. This diet and the lack of vegetables and mineral-rich foods are usually the primary cause. Such a diet can be immune-depressing and increase the likelihood of infection. The body is then susceptible to colds, flu, tonsillitis, and other diseases that may affect the ear. Once an infection damages the tissues of the inner ear or canal, recurrent infections are far more likely. In addition, a diet rich in saturated fats encourages the excess production of earwax, which can contribute to infection and earaches.
External ear infections have more to do with the environment and the infiltration of water (i.e., swimmer’s ear).
It is possible to treat many of these infections at the early stages using natural means; however, if infection has progressed to acute pain, antibiotics may be necessary.
Foods to Eat
- Juice, vegetable, and water fast
- Carrots and carrot juice (the beta-carotene/vitamin A is anti-inflammatory and protects against ear infection)
- Steamed onions
- Honey/onion syrup: Slice a large onion thinly, place in a bowl, and cover with 1 to 2 tbsp. of honey. Cover container tightly and allow to sit for 8 hours. Mash, strain, and take in 1-tsp. doses, four to eight times per day.
- Potassium broth: take a quarter inch of outer peelings of potatoes (including skin), fresh parsley, unpeeled carrots, beet greens, onions, garlic, and other organically grown greens vegetables. Prepare broth by washing and chopping vegetables and then simmering in a large covered pot of water for 30 to 40 minutes. Strain and drink the broth, discard the veggies. Excess may be stored in glass containers in the refrigerator for up to two days.
- Raw green apples
Foods to Avoid
- Dairy products
- Hydrogenated oils
- Refined foods
Herbs to Treat Earache and Ear Infection
- Mullein (antibacterial): most effective application: 4 – 6 drops, four times a day in the ear
- Citrus seed extract is an extremely potent natural antibiotic. According to Chinese medicine, because of its bitter properties, it dried damp conditions, as in the case of severe ear infections.
- Garlic oil: place in the ear canal once a day to help ear infections. Safe for children. To prepare oil, crush several garlic cloves and soak in 3 oz. of olive oil for at least three days. Then strain the oil through a cloth.
- Echinacea in tincture form, both as eardrops and taken internally: ½ – 1 tsp., three or four times per day
- Pulsatilla: for an earache that comes on after a cold, or in a child who tends to whine rather than cry loudly
- Chamomilla: for the child who is extremely irritable and cries loudly; for soreness and severe pain; or if ear feels stopped
- Aconite: for the eternal ear when it is red, hot, painful, or swollen
- Belladonna: for earaches with a sudden onset, especially when earache is in right ear; for severe pain in the middle or external ear; and for throbbing pain deep in the ear, which is at the tempo of a heartbeat
- Magnesia phosphorica: for earaches without respiratory infection; for sharp, aching, jerking or tearing pain; or for intermittent pain
Massage these oils around the outer ear and neck:
- Chamomile: analgesic, antiseptic, antibacterial
- Lavender: analgesic, antimicrobial, sedative
- Tea tree: anti-infections, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant