OTITIS (EARACHE)

This is the medical term used to describe ear infections of various kinds, and is subdivided according to the part of the ear involved - 'otitis externa' affecting the outer ear, 'otitis media' (by far the most common cause of earache) the middle ear, and 'otitis interna' the inner ear. Infection spreads very easily from one part of the ear to another, and also from the nose to the ear via the Eustachian tubes, and from the inner ear into the skull cavity.

Because of this, and the potentially dangerous nature of the possible complications, no earache should ever be neglected. Essential oils can be used at the first sign of pain, to help relieve this and to combat the infection, but if there is no improvement within 24 hours, or if the pain is acute, or there is fever with it, or if pus is seen coming from the ear, a doctor should be consulted at once. This really is one of the situations in which antibiotics should not be despised, though it is possible and advisable to continue with aromatherapy treatments at the same time. Neglect of an apparently simple earache can lead to permanent deafness.

The vast majority of earaches are secondary infections originating with a cold, sinusitis or other nasal problems, so the original nose infection should be treated as well.

Hot compresses of Camomile and/or Lavender will reduce pain, and reduce the risk of middle-ear infections spreading to the inner ear through the action of heat in 'drawing' infection and pus to the surface. You can also try gentle massage all around the ear with the same oils. Camomile is the classic earache remedy, but it is more effective combined with Lavender than either of them alone. To counteract infection you can put 3 drops of lavender oil into a teaspoon of almond or olive oil warmed to blood heat, and trickle a little of this into the ear cavity. Gently insert a small plug of cottonwool to help keep the oil in the ear. However, this should ONLY be done after medical examination has shown that the ear-drum is not perforated.

Frequently recurring earache indicates a congested and infected state in the ear and nasal passages, and, especially if there is a lot of catarrh present, such infections can be very slow to clear up. Garlic capsules, steam inhalations and a diet that is rich in raw fruits and vegetables, and low in dairy products and refined starches, will usually reduce the amount of mucus and enable the infection to be eradicated, so that the earache will no longer be a problem.

See also, CATARRH, COLDS and SINUSITIS.

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