Ear Infection
January 6, 2004 10:49 PM   Subscribe

I've woken up this morning with a nasty ache in my right ear. I can't hear very well, and I'm still suffering the congestive effects of my latest cold. A little Googling has convinced me it's probably an ear infection.

Any suggestions on how to alleviate the pain?
posted by armoured-ant to Health & Fitness (22 answers total)
Heat up a potato in the microwave, cover it up with a cloth or two, and rest your ear against it. The potato stays warm and alleviates the pain. No Joke.
posted by banished at 10:54 PM on January 6, 2004

Might want to consider having a medical professional irrigate your ear to get the gunk out of it. I have to have mine done about once every ten years. Luckily, it does involve some seriously comical looking contraptions and warm water, so it's both soothing and hilarious. Especially when they ask you to please hold the curved trough under your ear.

I suspect anything involving the ear just ends up being goofy, therefor banished's potato tip might just work.
posted by dglynn at 11:28 PM on January 6, 2004

Yes, I've had the irrigation done. It's surprisingly cathartic. Doesn't hurt, just feels weird. Works. No reason to wait out an ear infection, as they are annoying as hell: go get it done armoured-ant.
posted by Hildago at 11:53 PM on January 6, 2004

i use a blowdryer on medium heat setting when i get an ear ache. just point it at your ear and the pain should stop quickly; doing this always works on the ear aches i get from walking in the cold & wind without a hat.
posted by t r a c y at 12:28 AM on January 7, 2004

I get earaches often. I use a hot-water bottle inside a pillow case - you can go to sleep on it - and I pop paracetamol like an addict.

Would an ear irrigation prevent an ear infection? I always thought the infection came from within, so to speak.
posted by malpractice at 12:28 AM on January 7, 2004

When I was a kid and my ear was acting funky, before rushing off to the doctor's office, my mom would have me lie on my side with the funky ear pointing up, and put a few drops of hydrogen-peroxide in. The snap-crackle-pop was interesting, and at least half the time, took care of the ear problem. Can't begin to tell you if it's sound (ha!) medical advice, though.
posted by crunchland at 12:36 AM on January 7, 2004

I get that sometimes, its basically crap from your cold leaking into your ear. Use Vaporub to generally clear out the whole of your facial plumbing, along with your ears.
posted by Orange Goblin at 1:49 AM on January 7, 2004

OK, since potatos and hair dryers have already been mentioned, I may as well post my quack remedy.

Use a nasal spray (one of the nasty addictive kind, like Afrin, and a liquid, not a gel) in the appropriate nostril, then while it's still wet, lay down and lean your head back and toward the opposite side. Snap crackle pop and usually a clearer ear.

Then go to a doctor like a sensible person.
posted by mmoncur at 2:15 AM on January 7, 2004

Go to a doc.
I have a partial hearing loss in one ear because of an ear infection I had when I was four. You don't wanna risk that.
posted by konolia at 4:16 AM on January 7, 2004

Booked an appointment with my local GP for 3:40pm this afternoon. Can't wait to get me lugs irrigated! Thanks Mefi!
posted by armoured-ant at 4:51 AM on January 7, 2004

Armoured-ant, a lot of times, people have what they believe to be earaches after dental work or when they're under stress, due to TMJ. If it's not an infection, you may want to explore that avenue - a good cranio-sacral massage might loosen up the tightened muscles that run from the back of the jaw to behind the ear. Acupuncture also helps if it's a TMJ issue.
posted by pomegranate at 6:03 AM on January 7, 2004

ear aches are deserving of a tripto the doc. There is a small but far from insignificant chance of permanent damege to your hearing if left un-checked.
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:54 AM on January 7, 2004

Blow dryer to dry it out. Ear infections are bacteria and bacteria thrive in moist environments. Keep the ear very very dry, even moisture from takeing a shower can flare it up. Drops of a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar.. forget the ratio ask your doctor, it works better than medicine and is cheaper. If your doctor subscribes an anti-biotic before trying these other things he is stupid and wasteing your money. Ask a swimmer what they do for swimmers ear.

How did you get the ear infection? I figured out I have a reaction to some dairy products it causes my ears to leak liquid which builds up and gets infected. This is a not uncommon problem with dairy and ears.
posted by stbalbach at 8:55 AM on January 7, 2004

I use to get ear infections at least 4-5 times a year as a kid. My mom use to warm up vegetable oil and use an eye-dropper to leak a few drops into the canal (then I had my tonsils and adnoids removed, no more ear aches).
posted by Mick at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2004

My advice, go see a doctor. I just had the same symptoms, and put it off for a while - it got worse fast and turned out to be tonsilitis. Some nice meds got me on my feet again fast. Earaches can be TMJ, sinusitis, an Ear infection, or something else entirely. If it's at all feasible, go see a pro. Oh, and it might seem like an obvious thing, but Tylenol did a great job for me as far as alleviating the pain.

Oh, and I just had my left ear irrigated yesterday - talk about a bizarre sensation, it briefly felt like I was drowning in a whirlpool, and the warm water was shooting through my ear and out my left eye, then I just felt silly, holding the cup up to my ear. Very nice to get cleaned out though.
posted by kokogiak at 11:03 AM on January 7, 2004

Lazy and cheap way.

More expensive way (Reccomended that you do this for 3 days prior to trying the syringe. If the wax is "melted" it'll syringe out really easily).

Best way.

Note that I have to have this done every 3 - 5 years, so I have experience :-). Both my ears get blocked up to the point I can't hear (but I don't notice until I either get earaches, or people tell me I'm literally SHOUTING everything at them). After being cleaned everything is so crystal clear... I can hear things nobody else can. It's very strange. Oh, and getting syringed while your ears are sore hurts like a bitch, but it's necessary.
posted by shepd at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2004

I, too, am a sufferer and need rootering irrigation about once every 4 years. You may be thrilled to know that if earwax is indeed the culprit, it has a schmancy name that you can toss around to impress people: bilateral cerumen impactions.
posted by contessa at 12:07 PM on January 7, 2004

The last time I had ear pain that brought tears to my eyes I took a leftover percodan. Not trying to be snarky, just sharing information.
posted by mecran01 at 3:03 PM on January 7, 2004

I have a partial hearing loss in one ear because of an ear infection I had when I was four.

Hey, we can say what we like about konolia and she'll never know.
posted by biffa at 3:55 PM on January 7, 2004

Olive oil (extra virgin), a few drops in each ear for a few days softens any earwax. Then see a doctor to get the softened stuff syringed out. Self-syringing (as per shepd's first link) is a BAD idea - you can do serious damage. Medicated/prescription ear drops are a waste of money.
posted by cbrody at 4:44 PM on January 7, 2004


Be very careful with regard to getting your ears irrigated/syringed. My better half had this done during an ear infection about 4 years ago and her ear hasn't been right since.

Some doctors in the UK (where she had it done) apparently refuse to do syringing (as it is termed there) due to the risk to some patients.

The prefered way is to have the blockage picked out in the ENT dept. of a hospital.

As already mentioned, olive oil every day helps soften earwax & diet is definitely a factor.

My g/f has a combination of excema, blockage & ear infection. Since being in Asia she has consumed a lot less dairy & wheat & the excema has gone. Unfortunately she got some seawater in her ear a few weeks ago which has made the blockage worse.

Using special earplugs when you are likely to get a wet head is a solution.

I'll repeat...be really careful with ear problems - not only is deafness, even temporary, a pain for you it's a problem for others who are trying to talk to you!
posted by i_cola at 1:48 AM on January 8, 2004

I just read that vodka could be used to kill the bacteria,
instead of the recommended peroxide method above.

posted by milovoo at 3:30 PM on January 8, 2004

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