From a yogi friend:
“I have an ear infection that started 2 weeks ago. I havent had one in years, and last time I had it just passed after 3-4 days. I keep treating it as recommended by websites and friends with garlic oil, hydrogen peroxide and tea tree oil, till yesterday when its started getting worse. It feels like it felt 10 days ago blocked ear, a bit swollen, pain if I touch the ear, and general weakness. No fever though.”
Okay, so it’s not exactly a question about Yoga or the Yoga lifestyle and health, but it’s from a friend I know through Yoga – one that loves to live a simple, green lifestyle and avoid medications whenever possible.Otitis externa is a common problem. I get questions about it all the time. “Otitis” means inflammation of the ear, and “externa” refers to the outer, or external, portion. It’s common in swimmers or others who get water or other liquids into the ear canal. Sometimes it comes without any apparent precipitator.
The external portion of the ear generally becomes very tender. It may hurt to lie on the side of the affected ear. If you grab the outer ear and rotate it around in a circle so that it pulls and tugs, it should elicit pain.
The ear may feel “blocked” or “clogged.” Sometimes hearing is a little impaired on that side. There may be some yellowish/brownish/greenish drainage. And there should be NO FEVER. If you have a temperature of more than 100.4 (that’s 38.0 in Celsius), a healthcare practitioner with an otoscope needs to get a look inside.
The best natural remedy for ear infections (otitis externa) is a solution made of up equal parts of vinegar (at least 3%) and water. Put a quarter of a cup of each in a bottle and shake it up. Then settle down into a lying position on the non-affected side with the painful ear up in the air. Fill the entire ear canal with a few drops of the solution and remain resting in this position for five minutes. Repeat this treatment at least twice a day for three days. If you’re getting better, continue until the pain is resolved. If you’re not, consider a visit to a healthcare practitioner for a look inside.
While you’re using the vinegar solution, don’t put anything else into the ear canal – no tea tree oil, no garlic, no Q-tips, no nothing. That means no water too, so no swimming and take care in the shower.
My yogi friend took my advice. He’s cured.
A recent analysis of the medical literature states, “Acetic acid (vinegar) was effective and comparable to antibiotic/steroid at week 1.” From Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jan 20. The authors note that severe infections extending beyond one week likely need the addition of a steroid drop and possibly an antibiotic ear drop. For those who want to avoid antibiotics and steroids whenever possible, there’s no rush to the big guns.