Ear infections, also known as acute otitis media, are painful and can even affect your hearing. They usually come about when you are already struggling with something miserable like allergies or flu. This is because fluid from your sinuses can get trapped in the middle ear where there is only supposed to be air. Having water trapped in your ears after swimming can cause it too.
The trapped moisture makes that area very attractive to viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Ear infections are most common in children, but adults can get them too. Symptoms typically include pain and sometimes discharge. Fever and headaches can also occur. When your hearing is affected it’s due to swelling caused by inflammation (1).
Ear infections usually go away on their own but if you can help your body along naturally and get rid of it sooner, why not? No one enjoys sitting in pain or struggling to hear. One of the most popular natural remedies is apple cider vinegar for an ear infection.
Can You Put Apple Cider Vinegar in Your Ear?
Many people use apple cider vinegar for ear pain and it works for them without any problem, but you do need to take precautions. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is very acidic. Using it undiluted is not advised. Here are some reasons why you should try ACV for ear infection:
- ACV is antibacterial and antifungal which helps to get rid of the germs causing the ear infection.
- ACV contains acetic acid which is often found in prescribed ear infection medications in combination with corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone. Acetic acid on its own is still effective.
- ACV is even effective in getting rid of chronic ear infections.
- As with all remedies, it may not work for everyone, but most people will find it beneficial (3).
Why use ACV instead of regular medicine though? Aside from the cost of the medication and/or doctor visit, medications have a lot of side effects and with constant use or long-term use, they take a toll on the body. One of the biggest problems is antibiotic resistance due to the overuse of antibiotics. When used correctly and only when necessary, ACV has little to no side effects.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Ear Infection
You can use these remedies 4-5 times a day until your ear infection resolves. With kids, you can use diluted ACV, but double check with the pediatrician first to be safe. If you find that your ear burns, you may need to dilute it more. You can try one or more of these apple cider vinegar ear drop remedies and see which is best for you.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar and Water
This remedy is the least irritating to your skin and if you need to use this remedy for your child, this will likely be the best. It’s best to do this remedy on a bed or couch where you can lie down and use a towel as a precaution.
- Dilute the ACV with water (preferably filtered or distilled) in a 1:1 ratio. You may need to dilute it more if it causes your skin to feel like it’s burning. You may want to slightly warm this solution because cold liquids entering your ears can be uncomfortable or painful, and it even makes some people feel dizzy.
- Lie on your side so that your ear is facing the ceiling. You can also tilt your head to the side when standing or sitting but this may be uncomfortable and you will need some cotton wool to keep your ear plugged.
- Use a clean medicine dropper to drop the ACV and water solution into your ear.
- Keep the solution in your ear for up to 5 minutes, then let it drain out.
Note: Never leave your ears wet. You can use a hair dryer on the coolest setting so that you don’t burn to dry your ears. You can also use the next remedy instead (6).
2. Apple Cider Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol
If you find that you don’t have any adverse reaction to this remedy it’s a great one. It has a drying effect so it helps with the trapped moisture in your ear. Rubbing alcohol is also antimicrobial.
- Mix the rubbing alcohol and ACV together in equal parts.
- Use as you would the first remedy.
Note: This may be a bit too harsh for children’s ear canals and skin. It can be very drying.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar and Essential Oils
Essential oils have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. They can also help the ACV remedies to smell a little better. Simply add a drop of your chosen essential oil to your mixture, both water and alcohol can take the essential oils. Mix well.
Good options are:
- Tea tree oil
You can also use oils like coconut oil (which has antibacterial properties) and olive oil. These oils will help to soften hardened ear wax that may be keeping the moisture trapped.
Tips and Precautions
- If your symptoms worsen, you develop a fever, the pain is severe, or if you find that there is no improvement after a few days, it’s best to see your doctor. The infection may be deeper than the home remedy is able to reach.
- If you do have a perforated eardrum, only use apple cider vinegar for an earache under medical supervision.
- If you experience a bad reaction to the apple cider vinegar, rather try one of these other home remedies for ear infections. Some of those will smell a lot better too.
- If you struggle with your sinuses clogging up due to allergies, try taking an antihistamine. You can also try these remedies for sinus infections.
- If you have a cold or the flu, drinking ginger tea with honey and lemon can help. Drink lots of fluids and eat easy to digest foods. Blow your nose regularly and wash your hands afterward.
- Eat healthily by cutting out junk food and processed food as much as possible and eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This will ensure that you have the nutrients that your body needs to strengthen your immune system.
- Exercise regularly once you feel better. Exercise in moderation does wonders for our immune systems.
- Make sure you get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep. Avoid caffeine after 3 pm and avoid alcohol 3 hours before bed. Instead of sitting on your computer, phone, or in front of the TV, spend the last hour before bedtime reading or doing some gentle yoga. The blue light emitted from electronic screens can keep you awake.
- If you find that you have water trapped in your ears after swimming or after you’ve washed them or your hair, make sure that you dry your ears afterward, inside and out. Using swimmers ear drops, remedy 2 (ACV and rubbing alcohol), or using a hair dryer on the lowest setting can help with drying your ear canal.
Please let us know if these remedies have helped you. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comment section.