How To Use Essential Oils For Ear Infection?

Essential Oils For Ear Infection

What Is An Ear Infection?

An ear infection occurs when bacteria or a virus infects the middle ear and causes pain, swelling, and fluid buildup.

The middle ear is the central air-filled cavity behind the eardrum. The middle ear contains vibrating bones that convert sound waves from the outer ear into vibrations. These vibrations are then processed by the inner ear into nerve signals for the brain.

Ear infections are painful because of the increased pressure on the eardrum caused by inflammation and excess fluid buildup. Natural remedies such as the essential oils for ear infection are found to be effective as they contain antimicrobial properties.

An ear infection occurs in both children and adults, but children are more often affected than adults. Most children develop at least one ear infection by the time they are 3 years old.

Ear infections can be acute or chronic.

  • Acute ear infections are painful but are of a shorter duration.
  • Chronic ear infections are those that do not heal or keep recurring. Chronic ear infections can lead to permanent middle and inner ear damage.

Symptoms Of Ear Infection

Symptoms of ear infection in adults are;

  • Ear pain and pressure. The pain can be a sudden sharp pain or a continuous dull pain.
  • A stabbing pain that is sharp and accompanied by warm drainage from the ear canal
  • Feeling of fullness because of fluid in the ear
  • Reduced hearing
  • Nausea
  • Pus-like ear drainage

Symptoms in children are wide and include:

  • Pulling at the ear
  • Ear pain when lying down at night
  • Ear congestion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Crying more than usual
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite

An ear infection can occur in one or both ears, and so are the symptoms. But pain is severe when both ears are affected. Symptoms appear to be less in chronic ear infections when compared to acute ear infections. Infants having a fever higher than 102°F or symptoms of an ear infection should seek medical attention.

Causes Of Ear Infection

An ear infection is usually caused by another illness such as a cold, flu, or allergy. These cause an increased mucus secretion in the sinuses, which results in a slow clearance of fluid by the eustachian tubes. They also cause swelling and congestion of eustachian tubes, nasal passages, and throat.

Role Of Eustachian Tubes

Eustachian tubes are small passageways that connect the middle ear to the back of the throat, behind the nasal passages. The ends of the tubes at the throat open and close to regulate air pressure in the middle ear, resupply or refresh the air in the middle ear and drain normal secretions from the middle ear.

A cold, flu or an allergy can block these eustachian tubes, causing excess fluid buildup in the middle ear. Infection can set in if this fluid becomes infected with bacteria.

In young children, the eustachian tubes are smaller and more horizontal because of which excess fluid gets collected in the tubes rather than being drained away. This increases the risk of ear infections in children.

Role Of Adenoids

Adenoids are two pads of tissue located up in the throat, near the opening of the eustachian tubes. The adenoids trap bacteria or viruses that come through the mouth and nose. Swelling of these adenoids can block the eustachian tubes leading to middle ear infections. As children have larger adenoids, they are more likely to play a role in ear infections in children.

Can Essential Oils Cure An Ear Infection?

Essential oils are those oils that are distilled from the plant itself and have the characteristic odor of the plant they are extracted from.

Essential oils for ear infections are found to be an effective natural remedy. Essential oils help treat ear infections as they;

  • Reduce the symptoms that include ear pain, swelling, and discharge from the ear.
  • Contain antiviral properties that prevent the virus from replicating, fighting off viral infections.
  • Contain antibacterial properties that can kill the bacteria. Some may interfere with the cellular processes that provide energy to bacteria. This can cause starvation that leads to the death of bacteria.

Essential oils for ear congestion and ear pain are being used widely and the results look promising.

Essential Oils For Ear Infection

Some essential oils in their diluted form are found to help fight off ear infections when used either as ear drops or applied and rubbed around the ear.

Based on research, here are the best essential oils that can treat ear infections;

1. Lamigex Ear Drops

This is a mixture of three essential oils and is found to be as effective as the standard ciprofloxacin ear drops. The mixture contains clove oil, lavender oil, and herb-Robert oil. Lamigex ear drops are found to ease the symptoms like itchiness, tenderness, and discharge.

2. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is rich in anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. An antibacterial substance called terpinene-4-ol in tea tree oil is found to kill the bacteria. However, more evidence is required in terms of its effectiveness to use it as a treatment for ear infections.

3. Oregano Oil

Mexican oregano oil may help with ear infections as studies show that the oil contains a substance called carvacrol that has antiviral properties. Further research is required to study the effectiveness for ear infections.

4. Basil Oil

Basil oil may help with ear infections according to the evidence obtained from animal studies against the bacteria - Streptococcus pneumonia or Hemophilus influenza.

Other Oils

A few more essential oils that people have tried and recommend are;

  • Mustard oil
  • Garlic oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Thyme oil

How To Use Essential Oils For Ear Infection

Essential oils must always be diluted with a carrier oil before use as essential oils when used directly may cause a burning sensation or irritation on your skin. Carrier oils that are commonly used include coconut, jojoba, and extra virgin olive oils.

Recommended usage - Mix one drop of essential oil with one teaspoon of carrier oil.

Before using essential oil for an ear infection, it is suggested to test the oil on a patch of skin, such as the area on the inner arm. It can be considered as safe to use if no irritation or inflammation occurs for 24 hours after applying the diluted essential oil.

Essential oils can be used in different ways to treat an ear infection. These include;

1. A Cotton Ball Soaked In The Diluted Essential Oil

Place the soaked cotton ball in your ear, without forcing it inside the ear. The oil will slowly seep into the ear canal.

2. Dilute The Essential Oil With Warmed Olive Oil

Release the mixture (1-2 drops of essential oil in 2-4 drops of carrier oil) using a clean dropper directly into the ear canal. This breaks the wax and allows the oil to penetrate the deeper parts of the ear. Do not use too much oil as it can cause clogging of the ear.

3. Oil Mixture To Clean The Outer Ear

This removes bacteria or viruses on the outer surface of the ear. The anti-inflammatory properties of the oil such as tea tree oil help to reduce the swelling in the outer part of the ear.

Essential oils for ear infection in toddlers, children, and adults can be used as a natural remedy.


Vasavi Attada

Vasavi Attada specializes in creating content for the Medical/healthcare domain. She has written articles for Indian Health Organization (IHO), American Diabetes Association, and for magazines such as India Today and Dignity Dialogue.

Vasavi Attada holds a Master’s degree in Microbiology from Bangalore University.