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How to treat ear infections naturally with apple cider vinegar

Ear infections occur as a result of an overgrowth of infectious bacteria or viruses. The infection can happen in the inner, middle or outer part of the ear and cause symptoms like ear pain, hearing problems, headache, ear discharge and constant tugging at an ear. Though ear infections often clear up on their own, severe cases may require antibiotics.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) offers a potent alternative to antibiotics for treating ear infections. Research shows that this vinegar has antimicrobial properties that can help eliminate bacteria. In a 2018 study, scientists applied ACV to two species of bacteria that commonly cause ear infections: Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. They found that ACV inhibited the growth of both microbes.

The researchers also exposed bacterial cultures mixed with immune cells to ACV. They found that the cells showed fewer signs of inflammation, indicating that ACV can reduce the severity of certain bacterial infections. The researchers said that the acetic acid in ACV may be responsible for its antimicrobial effects. Previous studies showed that acetic acid can damage the cell walls of microbes.

How to use apple cider vinegar for ear infections

The best way to use ACV for ear infections is by adding it to homemade ear drops. Combine equal parts of ACV and lukewarm water to make the ear drops. Be sure that the water is only slightly warm as the skin within the ear is sensitive.

Follow the steps below to properly apply the drops into the ear canal: (h/t to MedicalNewsToday.com.)

  1. Suck up some of the ear drop mixture using a dropper.
  2. Sit or lie with your head tilted to one side so that the infected ear faces upward.
  3. Squeeze 4 to 5 drops of the mixture into the ear.
  4. Keep your head tilted for a couple of minutes to ensure the drops reach the ear canal.
  5. Tilt your head in the opposite direction to allow the mixture to fall out.
  6. Use a cotton ball or a clean face cloth to wipe the ear, but avoid inserting anything into the ear canal.
  7. Repeat the above process a few times each day.

Undiluted ACV can damage the skin of the ear, so it’s important to mix it with equal parts of water. If the infection is in the inner or middle ear, avoid using ACV ear drops until you’ve consulted a healthcare professional. Ear drops are also unsafe for people with ear discharge as the mixture may aggravate their condition.

Stop using the drops if irritation occurs or if you experience any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Fluids like pus and blood leaking from the ear
  • Symptoms of a middle ear infection that last more than 3 days
  • Hearing loss
You can try warm compresses to help alleviate pain and swelling. Simply place a warm towel over the affected ear, and this will help reduce pain and increase circulation in the area. (Related: Use a hot ginger compress for fast pain relief and to speed up the healing process.)

Tips to prevent ear infections

Take a look at the following tips to prevent ear infections:

  • Keep your ears dry and clean – Dirty ears promote the growth of bacteria.
  • Prevent common colds – A middle ear infection often occurs after a cold.
  • Avoid second-hand smoke – Exposure to cigarette smoke can increase your risk of developing colds.
  • Avoid injury to the ear – Foreign objects like cotton swabs and bobby pins can cause cuts and bruises in the ear canal that can get infected.
  • Breast-feed your baby – Young children are at a higher risk of ear infections. Breast-feed your baby to boost his immune health.

Keep these tips in mind to prevent ear infections and use apple cider vinegar properly if an infection does occur.

Learn more about home remedies for infections at Remedies.news.

Sources include:



CDC.gov [PDF]

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