Over-the-counter remedies for an ear infection

Ear infections occur when bacteria or viruses invade our ear canals or eustachian tube, causing painful inflammation of the inside of the ear. While many people rush to the doctor to obtain antibiotics to treat the infection, there are many ways to treat ear infections at home using items that can be purchased over the counter without a prescription.

Drugstore Treatments

In some cases of ear infection, a simple trip to the pharmacy for some over-the-counter medicine may help.

Since many ear infections are caused by congested eustachian tubes, which often occurs after a cold, oral decongestant medications like Sudafed or Dayquil can help to drain the ears of excess mucus, getting rid of the bacterial (or viral) infection.

Another option is to instil hydrogen peroxide into the ear to help remove excess wax and mucus. To do so, lay on your side with the affected ear facing up. Drop three or four drops of peroxide into your ear using a medicine dropper or cotton ball. You will begin to feel the peroxide bubbling and loosening wax. Leave the peroxide in the ear canal until the bubbling sensation stops. Use a clean, dry cotton ball to plug the ear and catch the liquid that will drain out. If necessary, repeat on the other side.

Home Remedies

Distilled white vinegar is often used to alleviate ear infections. Mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and warm water and instil it into the ear with a bulb syringe. The rinse will help to get rid of some of the excess mucus and wax. In addition, instilling several drops of diluted vinegar into the ear canal and then plugging the ear canal with a cotton ball can also help.

Use a warm compress to help to loosen mucus and wax. A sock filled with dry rice or salt and warmed in the microwave can make an excellent compress. The heat can help to gently allow the ear to drain.

Olive oil or garlic oil has also been touted to have antimicrobial properties. Try instilling two or three drops of either into the affected ear, as it may help to clear up infection.

Alternative Medicine

Colloidal silver, which is available at many health food or supplement stores, has been used to effectively treat some ear infections. Colloidal silver is a suspension of silver microparticles dissolved evenly in distilled water. It works to kill bacteria and viruses by binding them with tiny silver microparticles, which inhibit reproduction and eventually lead to death of the bacteria or viruses. To alleviate ear infections, instil four or five drops into the affected ear and let it stay in for several minutes. Plug the ear canal with a cotton ball to prevent dripping and staining of your clothes. Repeat several times a day until the infection is gone.

Over-the-counter herbal ear drops are also available at health food stores and many pharmacies and may help to alleviate your ear infection. Follow the directions on the package carefully.

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