How Does Sweet Oil Help Earaches?

By William Lynch ; Updated July 27, 2017

An earache doesn’t have to mean an expensive trip to the doctor. Sweet oil is a proven home remedy for the pain and discomfort associated with ear aches, providing quick, affordable relief.


Sweet oil is simply another name for olive oil. Even the sweet oils sold at pharmacies have olive oil as their lone ingredient.


Place two to three drops of sweet oil in the painful ear. To prevent the oil from running out, insert a small piece of cotton into the ear and lie down on the opposite side, with the troublesome ear pointed up. The pain should ease in a matter of minutes.


Although it is commonly accepted that sweet oil has antibacterial properties to help reduce inflammation and infection, W. Steven Pray, PhD, DPh of Southwestern Oklahoma State University explained that the source of common infection is beyond the tympanic membrane and that olive oil is not able to pass through an intact tympanic membrane.

The oil also helps soften and dissolve painful earwax, as do many other types of oil.


Warming the sweet oil can provide added benefit. Of course, always test the temperature to make sure it isn’t too hot before inserting it in the ear.


According to Dr. Douglas Hoffman, a California otolaryngologist, sweet oil can cause serious infection in the case of a perforated ear drum. The oil can leak into the middle ear and carry with it harmful bacteria with it, possibly leading to a more serious infection.

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