How to Sleep with an Ear Infection (2024)

How to Sleep with an Ear Infection (1) How to Sleep with an Ear Infection (2)

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Sleep isn’t just relaxing and refreshing; it’s essential for our overall health – and we’re programmed to need rest so that day-to-day energy levels don’t dip.

However, sleep can be disrupted by lots of things, including the discomfort caused by anear infection. Knowing ways you can sleep better even while suffering from ear infection symptoms will help you rest well.

Boots Hearingcare takes a look at how to sleep with an ear infection when symptoms start to become a problem.

Elevation (aka sleeping upright)

Sleeping upright is a great help when it comes to resting with ear infection symptoms. Sleeping sitting up can allow fluid in your ear to drain easier, as well as easing pressure and pain in your middle ear – the likely source of the infection itself.

Try propping yourself up on a stack of pillows, or better yet sleep in a reclining sofa or armchair. As long as you’re upright enough to allow the ears to drain more successfully, you should notice an improvement in symptoms and be able to sleep much easier.

How to Sleep with an Ear Infection (3)

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Over-the-counter painkillers

For adults, taking pain relief medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen before bedtime may be a big help in relieving ear infection symptoms and granting a good night’s sleep. Children under the age of two should not take over-the-counter medicines for an ear infection, unless they have been advised by their pediatrician. Likewise, those with ongoing health conditions should be sure to consult a doctor for advice on which painkiller is best.

Sip and swallow

Sipping water before you go to sleep, or during the night, may help with sleep while suffering from an ear infection. Alternatively, you could always do neck and swallowing exercises in the lead up to sleeping.

This is because the motion of swallowing can help trigger the muscles of the Eustachian tubes, which run from the middle ear to the back of the nasal cavity, to open and drain, acting as a natural means of reducing pain.

Switching positions

Lying on your back puts pressure on your ears, which is exactly what you want to avoid while suffering from an ear infection. It is this pressure that causes pain in the middle ear and prevents you from sleeping well in the first place.

However, by regularly changing positions during sleep, you can help relieve some of this pressure and hopefully drift off that much more comfortably. As previously mentioned, sleeping upright is a good method to try, but for natural, familiar sensations, resting on your side will have the most relaxing effect.

If your ear infection is occurring in just one ear, sleep on the side of the healthy ear to avoid adding even more pressure to the affected area.

Allergy and congestion relief

If you’re an adult and can attribute your ear infection to an upper respiratory infection, e.g. a cold, you may benefit from temporarily using oral or nasal decongestants to help clear any blockage and relieve pressure from your ears, nose and throat – even if just for a short while.

Managing your allergy and congestion symptoms brought on by an ear infection may increase comfort and give you a better night’s sleep. Think your ear infection could be as a result of allergies? Take an antihistamine like chlorpheniramine to help improve symptoms, but only after first consulting with your doctor; it could be that they a recommend more effective treatment for your ear infection.

Children who are having trouble sleeping because of an ear infection shouldn’t be given antihistamines or decongestants as a means to manage symptoms. Their paediatrician will advise on the best course of action to take if your child is struggling to sleep while battling persistent effects of an ear infection.

Ear infections can be awful at night, and it’s vital you have the right amount of sleep to recharge for the day ahead. If an ear infection is preventing you from sleeping, please contact your GP or an audiologist to examine the problem and start treatment as soon as possible.

Information & advice

ARTICLE Ear cleaning: why, when and how ARTICLE How to get water out of your ear ARTICLE How to improve hearing: 10 steps to hear better

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How to Sleep with an Ear Infection (2024)


How to Sleep with an Ear Infection? ›

Elevation (aka sleeping upright)

What is the best position to sleep in with an ear infection? ›

The best sleeping positions for ear infections are typically lying on the unaffected side or sleeping with the affected ear elevated using pillows.

Why are ear infections worse at night? ›

Ear infection symptoms can worsen at night because the pressure is greater. Lying down can back up the drainage in the middle ear, causing pressure and pain. “This makes sense due to gravity and lying down,” Dr. Johnson explains.

What is the best position to drain your ears? ›

To sleep with an ear infection, elevate your head or sleep on your non-affected side. Elevating the affected ear makes it easier for the infection to drain.

What should you not do with an ear infection? ›

  • do not put anything inside your ear to remove earwax, such as cotton buds or your finger.
  • do not let water or shampoo get in your ear.
  • do not use decongestants or antihistamines – there's no evidence they help with ear infections.

How to relieve ear infection pain at night? ›

How to sleep with an ear infection
  1. Elevation (aka sleeping upright) Sleeping upright is a great help when it comes to resting with ear infection symptoms. ...
  2. Over-the-counter painkillers. ...
  3. Sip and swallow. ...
  4. Switching positions. ...
  5. Allergy and congestion relief.

How to drain an ear infection? ›

Effective home remedies for safe fluid drainage include jiggling the earlobe, using gravity, creating a vacuum, using a blow dryer, trying ear drops or sprays, trying more water, inhaling steam, and gargling with saltwater.

How to stop ear throbbing pain? ›

Place a cold pack or cold wet washcloth on the outer ear for 20 minutes to reduce pain. Chewing may help relieve the pain and pressure of an ear infection. (Gum can be a choking hazard for young children.) Resting in an upright position instead of lying down can reduce pressure in the middle ear.

Does throbbing ear mean ear infection? ›

Severe, throbbing earaches that occur mainly in the evening or at night are a characteristic feature of an acute middle ear infection. Otitis media acuta, as the doctors call it, is a painful infection of the ear that can occur on one or both sides and at any age.

How to sleep with a clogged ear infection? ›

Try propping up your head on two or more pillows, so your affected ear is higher than the rest of your body. That will help encourage fluid to drain. (Yay, gravity!) If both your ears are affected, you may find that sleeping on your back may be more comfortable.

What is the fastest way to cure an ear infection at home? ›

Warm compresses, as well as over-the-counter pain medication and ear drops can all help alleviate ear pain. Getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated can help the healing process, too. If symptoms don't go away within two or three days or get worse before that, you should contact a healthcare provider.

What is the fastest way to get fluid out of your ear? ›

One of the most common methods to alleviate pressure and promote fluid drainage from the middle ear is popping your ears using the Valsalva maneuver. This technique involves covering the affected ear with your palm and pushing and pulling it away from the ear quickly.

Which way to lay with an ear infection? ›

If you're an adult with a middle ear infection, elevating the affected ear makes it easier for the infection to drain out. So, sleep on your other side or tuck a few extra pillows under your head if sleeping on your back. If you have an outer ear infection, keep blankets and hair away from your ear.

How do you calm down an infected ear? ›

Home Care to Relieve Ear Pain
  1. A cool or warm compress. Soak a washcloth in either cool or warm water, wring it out, and then put it over the ear that's bothering you. ...
  2. A heating pad: Lay your painful ear on a warm, not hot, heating pad.
  3. Over-the-counter ear drops with pain relievers.
Aug 19, 2022

How do you flush out an ear infection? ›

Your physician may recommend the following: Irrigate your ear canal liberally with a 1:1 mixture of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. This can be done twice daily for active infections or every other day for maintenance. Use a generous amount enough to fill the canal.

How to stop an earache fast? ›

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen will help relieve the pain until you feel better. Be sure to get plenty of rest. Drink extra water and fluids. Decongestants and antihistamines may help stop your earache from hurting if allergies or an upper respiratory tract infection causes it.

How long does it take for an ear infection to heal with antibiotics? ›

Once on antibiotics, your child will get better in 2 or 3 days. Make sure you give your child the antibiotic as directed. The fever should be gone by 2 days (48 hours). The ear pain should be better by 2 days.

How to open a blocked ear at home? ›

If your ears are plugged, try swallowing, yawning or chewing sugar-free gum to open your eustachian tubes. If this doesn't work, take a deep breath and try to blow out of your nose gently while pinching your nostrils closed and keeping your mouth shut. If you hear a popping noise, you know you have succeeded.

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