Ever think that the earache is worse at night? Well it’s true! Plugged Eustachian tubes which lead from the back of the throat to the middle ear, are the most common cause of earache for children and adults. It can be aggravated by a cold, sinus infection, or allergy. During the day you hold your head up and the tubes drain naturally. As you chew and swallow the muscles of the tubes contract, opening them and allowing air into the middle ear.

But at night when you sleep, things change. The tubes no longer drain naturally, you aren’t swallowing often so they aren’t getting air, the air already in the middle ear is absorbed and a vacuum occurs, sucking the eardrum inward, then the pain begins.

Other things can cause earaches too – swimmers ear, atmospheric pressure from travel, weird things can happen like tiny clippings from a haircut can fall into the ear canal and irritate your ears, you can also have pain in the ear that originates in the teeth, tonsils, throat, tongue, or jaw.

If your earache lasts more than a day or two, see a doctor. Here are some things you can try to relieve the pain or last until you can see the doctor.

Sit up – a few minutes upright will decrease the swelling and start your tubes draining again

Turn on the hair dryer – turn your hair dryer to a low warm setting, then hold the dryer 18-20 inches from your ear and aim it into the ear

wiggle your ear – is it swimmers ear? Try this, grab your outer ear, If you can wiggle it without pain, the problem is probably in the middle ear. If your outer ear causes pain, then the infection is probably in the outer ear canal. Swimmers ear hurts when you wiggle the ear

Warm some oil to body temp – Place a bottle of baby oil or mineral oil in a pan of body temperature water, let the oil sit in the water until it too it at body temperature. Placing a drop or two in the offending ear will help lessen the pain. CAUTION: Never drop fluids into your ear if you think the eardrum may be ruptured or punctured

Chew gum – You know it works when you’re traveling but have you tried it at midnight? The motion of chewing will open and help drain the tubes

Yawn – yawning moves the muscles that open the tubes and can work even better than yawning

Hold your nose – If you’re flying and your ears begin to ache, pinch your nostrils shut. Take a mouthful of air and then, using your cheek and throat muscles, force the air into the back of your nose as if you were trying to blow your fingers off the end of your nose. A pop will tell you, you have equalized the pressure inside and outside your ear

Don’t sleep during airplane descent – You need to sit up and swallow often during descent to keep up with the pressure

Take a decongestant – Head off the problem by taking a decongestant, that will help dry the tubes and help with draining. And don’t forget the simplest action, take an aspirin

Warm salt water – gargling with warm salt water increases blood circulation to the Eustachian tubes and helps decrease swelling that may be blocking them

Garlic – can ease earaches in several ways. Eating 1 or 2 cloves each day helps fight viruses and bacteria. A direct approach to fighting the bacteria in your ear is to squeeze a garlic clove and put a few drops of the juice in your ear.