Having an ear ache in general is painful, having an earache and flying is about the worst pain I’ve ever felt. The second my ear started hurting this week, I was quick to research remedies that may help alleviate the pain before my flight. While I’m willing to try almost anything—the pain last time was that bad—I know it’s important to be wary when it comes to ear pain. In addition to the advice I received from my doctor, I researched home remedies and came across an interesting idea. It claimed that applying drops of olive oil into the ear can help heal earaches. Let’s find out if this idea is reliable before we go and put anything into our ears!
When experiencing ear pain, there are two places an infection can occur: the middle or the outer ear. During the summer months, an outer ear infection may be common among those who spend time cooling off in the pool or lake, which is how it got its name of “swimmer’s ear.” According to a health and wellness website, Live Strong, an outer ear infection may “develop when bacteria proliferate in your ear canal, often as a result of trapped water or a cut in the skin lining the ear canal.” When this happens, we experience pain in our ear. Doctors suggest that even though olive oil won’t heal an outer ear infection, it may help prevent them. Live Strong explains that putting “two to three drops of olive oil in each ear canal just before going swimming helps lubricate the tissue lining the ear canal and might aid in keeping water from getting trapped there.”
While olive oil helps to prevent outer ear infections, research claims that when it comes to a middle ear infection olive oil may actually help to enhance the healing process. Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and co-author of “The Portable Pediatrician,” states “‘Warmed olive oil instilled in the affected ear often helps minimize pain resulting from a middle ear infection,” according to Live Strong. A middle ear infection is due to a buildup of fluid in the ear and the oil works to alleviate the pain we experience. On the website, Parenting, Dr. William Sears explains that when a middle ear infection occurs “the Eustachian tube—a tiny tube that connects the middle ear to the throat and equalizes air pressure on both sides of the eardrum—gets clogged with mucous” and, therefore, causes the discomfort we feel.
Verdict: Fact. While this remedy won’t replace the medical advice of your doctor, antibiotics, etc., it may help to alleviate pain of middle ear infections and may work to prevent outer ear infections. Dr. William Sears explains that using oil won’t harm our hearing as “the auditory structures are located on the opposite side of where the oil is making contact with the eardrum,” according to Parenting. Before trying this home remedy speak with your doctor to be sure it is safe for you to try. Live Strong warns that “olive oil […isn’t] appropriate for use in people who have ear tubes or might have a ruptured eardrum.” If your doctor gives you the okay, try this home remedy to get some relief! Live Strong urges us to remember that, after warming the olive oil, “use a thermometer to ensure that it is at body temperature to minimize your chances of accidentally burning the sensitive ear canal tissue.” You wouldn’t want to make the situation worse!
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Do you know of an ear pain remedy that works?