The middle ear contains a hollow channel called the Eustachian tube. This tube serves as a physical bridge between the ear and the throat. An infected tube turns swollen and fills up with fluid and mucus. When this happens, sound cannot move through the blocked tube.
The result of an infected Eustachian tube is diminished -- or even outright loss of -- hearing. Another symptom is a fever, as the body cranks up its temperature to try and fight the bacteria.
An ear infection is usually caused by harmful bacteria that get inside the ear. One type of infection, called "outer ear infection" or "swimmer's ear," can result from water that gets stuck inside the ear after taking a bath or going swimming. The trapped water increases the moistness of the Eustachian tube, thereby encouraging the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the area.
Ear infections often follow in the wake of a respiratory illness, such as a cold or the flu, which is often caused by bacteria and leaves the body in a weakened state. Children are particularly vulnerable to ear infections. Their Eustachian tubes are smaller and arranged in a more horizontal position, which increases the chances of them getting blocked. (Related: Herbal remedies to treat ear infections.)
Home remedies are an affordable and simple means of managing the pain caused by various diseases. In addition to reducing the pain caused by an ear infection, these natural treatments could also help speed up the recovery of the body.
There are three natural remedies for the painful symptoms of ear infections: A hot compress, a warm oil mixture made from the essential oils of plants with medicinal qualities, and chewing on gum and other edibles.
Making a hot compress is straightforward. Submerge a washcloth in hot water, then bring it out and wring the water out of it. Put the heated cloth on top of the ear and keep it there until it cools. Repeat the process as many times as necessary.
The moist heat of the cloth serves two purposes. It improves the circulation in the affected tubes. At the same time, it decreases the pain and swelling caused by the ear infection. It won't heal the illness, but it will make it more tolerable.
Another home remedy you can apply to your ear is warm oil. The ingredients for this alternative treatment are a tablespoon of pure almond carrier oil, two drops of lavender essential oil, two drops of chamomile essential oil, and three drops of tea tree essential oil.
Mix these oils together before heating them until they grow warm but not painfully hot. Twice a day, put two drops of the warm oil mix to the interior of the affected ear.
The essential oils contain bio-active compounds with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. They will help reduce the number of infectious bacteria and reduce the painful swelling of the infected ear.
Last but not least, the very act of chewing can help get a handle on the pain caused by an ear infection. By vigorously opening and closing your mouth, you can improve the ventilation of the Eustachian tube. This takes some of the pressure off the swollen walls of the tube, which could help drain the blocking fluid and improve hearing.