How To Sleep With Ear Infection
Similar to other pain-related conditions, such as intercostal muscle strain, experience with any ear infection is a nasty ordeal that renders you sleepless. In addition, with discomfort being part of the ordeal, the fluid discharge from your ear when sleeping might cause you restlessness. So, if you have had to go through all that, then it's about time you fixed your situation. Keep reading to find out more.
If you're in a hurry, here's the quick answer for how to sleep with an ear infection:
Sleep position has a huge impact on pain caused by an ear infection. Rest with your head on multiple pillows, so the ear with the infection is higher than the rest of your body. If your left ear has an infection, sleep on your right side and vice versa. Less pressure is the best way to reduce pain and get sleep.
Causes Of Ear Infections
Typical ear infections mainly occur due to the blockage of the eustachian tubes followed by swelling. In turn, it causes the buildup of fluid in the middle ear.
Know that Eustachian tubes are small tubes running from the ear to the back of your throat. Some of the causes of blockage in the eustachian tube are;
- Excess mucus
- Sinus infection - commonly associated with middle ear infections
- Air pressure changes
- Swollen or infected adenoids
Other conditions related to ear infections
Since the middle ear infection is the center of origin for any particular ear infection, other conditions are associated with it. Some of these conditions are outlined below.
- Chronic effusive otitis media: it is a condition caused by a buildup of remaining fluid accompanied by a bacterial and or viral infection. It is why children are susceptible to these ear infections, which might interfere with their hearing.
- Chronic suppurative otitis media: it is a condition that doesn't quickly go away with typical ear infection treatment. If not handed in time, it might cause a massive hole in the eardrum hence causing hearing problems.
- Otitis effusive media: it is characterized by buildup of fluid, i.e., effusion and swelling in the middle ear. However, the fluid buildup isn't accompanied by viral or bacterial infections. Also, this condition may occur due to fluid buildup persistence after an ear infection is gone. On the other hand, it may occur due to noninfectious dysfunctional infections, thus affecting hearing.
Some of these risk factors include;
- Poor quality of air: mainly caused by air pollutants and exposure to tobacco. In such as condition, you're more likely to develop a chronic ear infection.
- Age: As you already know, children are at high risk of developing ear infection. But, the most susceptible ones to these ear infections are those aged between 6 months and 12 years.
- Infant feeding: here, the mode of feeding is through bottle or breastfeeding. So, bottle-fed children are at a higher risk of developing ear infection than those who are breastfed.
- Group child care: children cared for at home are less likely to develop ear infections than those cared for in a group setting. These children are exposed to more conditions in which they are most likely to develop ear infections.
Signs And Symptoms Of Ear Infections
Sometimes ear infections can go unnoticed, and you only notice once you start to experience some pain. So, what are the signs and symptoms of ear infection;
- Pressure feeling inside your ear
- Discomfort with mild pain inside the ear
- Ear drainage resembling puss
- Fussiness in your infant
Some of these systems might occasionally manifest, while others might persist. It depends on the type of ear infection you're ailing from. Additionally, these symptoms might appear in one or both ears. In a double ear infection -both ears are infected – the pain might be severe.
Compared to acute ear infections, chronic ear infections might go unnoticed. With this in mind, note that children are most susceptible to ear infections. Commonly ear infections are associated with fever in children aged six months and below.
Sleeping Tips With Ear Infection
Sleep can be challenging, especially with that excruciating pain in your ear that you can't ignore. For better sleep, below are some of the tips for middle ear infection.
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Choose a pillow with memory foam to sleep with the correct height
Sleeping on a memory foam pillow can significantly help with the ear pain. Ensure the pad is of thickness between 4 and 7 inches. Memory foam pillow relieves pain by providing excellent support to contoured comfort compared to a regular one.
Keep in mind that your sheets, pillows, mattress and the rest of your beddings can have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. So for a quick recovery from an ear infection, you should get enough sleep alongside good comfort.
To increase comfort, consider going for a memory foam pillow that conforms with your head's contours while also supporting your ear. However, you can opt for a 4-5-inch-thick pillow if you're a back sleeper. Also, you can opt for a high loft 5–7-inch memory foam pillow if you're a side sleeper.
It is worth noting that sleeping on a pillow with the wrong height might cause other problems such as neck and upper back pain. Therefore, it is better to get bedding such as sheets and duvets made of hypoallergenic materials. The materials should be made naturally out of linen, silk, and cotton. If you're experiencing severe upper back pains and shoulder pains due to the wrong pillow choice, you may want to consider learning more about how to sleep with shoulder pain.
Such materials have meticulous comfort with a soft feel accompanied by moisture absorbing properties. With beddings of this nature, you have taken a step to a quick recovery.
Apply a warm compress to lower ear infection pain
Consider opting for a compression therapy that acts as an efficient ear pain relief source for your ear infection when applied under suitable temperatures. In addition, heat compression also serves as a source of congestion reliever from the ear canals and pressure reduction. This, in turn, helps you sleep faster.
Some of the ways for applying heat compression therapy are as follows.
- Use a heating pad or a rice sock: all you do is heat them to drain the water completely.
- Use a hot water bag with warm water: place the water bag on the affected ear for a duration of 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat the procedure couple of times until you feel pain relief.
- Use a warm cloth: Soak the warm cloth in warm water inside a plastic bag. Also, ensure there are no holes in the pack. It is to ensure no water enters your ear. Note that it is better to do this under the supervision of your doctor.
Note that if you're ailing from otitis externa i.e., an infection that affects the ear canal, this compression therapies might not be ideal for it. It is because the ear canal is at a high risk of infection as a result of water exposure. Additionally otitis externa is associated with outer ear infection.
Also, remember to use heat therapy cautiously and don't overdo the compression therapy. The caution implied here is to avoid using water that is too hot. Or else you risk causing damage to your skin and injuring your already infected ear.
Before going to bed, consider taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen.
Allow pressure release by elevating your head
Sleeping with your head elevated can go a long way in relieving ear pain by balancing out the pressure gradient on your ear. It is an ideal position, especially if both your ears bear ear infection. Also, ensure you don't sleep on one side of your ear as it may intensify the pain in your ear.
You can elevate your head by using an extra pillow or adjusting your bed at an elevated angle. Keep in mind that pillows are a cost-effective alternative to posture support adjustable beds. Your choice depends on the depth of your pocket.
Advisably, having an adjustable bed is ideal if you're suffering from back pains, acid reflux, sleep apnea, and other posture-related conditions. Sleeping comfortably with the upper part of your body alleviated can help reduce pain associated with ear infections as well.
Exercise routines to fall asleep faster
Moving your jaw can help relieve pain to fall asleep faster. Some of the activities related to aw movement are;
- Eating a snack
- Chewing gum
- Sipping water
All or either of the above jaw movement activities makes you fall asleep quickly as they reduce ear pain and relieve pressure from your ears. This is made possible due to the relaxation of muscles around your ears.
Additionally, you can try light exercises like meditating as it helps in reducing inflammation and stress. Including light physical activities can significantly help in;
- Boosting your immune system
- Promoting sufficient blood flow in your body
- Reduces stress on any inflamed region in your body
It may also aid in elevating pain from your ear infection Small exercises can help to unclog congestion in your eustachian tube and inner ear. However, since you already know what a eustachian tube is, their pressure might lead to the development of tension when affected. This tension might then cause ear pain which will be accompanied by sleep discomfort.
Deep breaths for relaxing
Doing deep meditative breathing with an ear infection will help you sleep much better, thus improving your sleep quality. Below is a highlight of recommended breathing exercises for a ear infection.
- Try and hold your breath for about 5 seconds and then exhales through your mouth. Remember to inhale through your nose
- Try identifying each of your breaths, and then slowly try counting your exhalations along with your inhalations.
- Release all your muscles tension and then focus on your breathing. Play soothing music in the background to go along with it. Ensure the frequency of the tone is around 430 Hz.
- Sit with your back straight on your bed in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and begin focusing on your breathing. For additional comfort, use cushions or pillows.
- Repeat the steps as many times as possible until you're sleepy and relaxed.
In case you're woken up by an ear pain, you can take pain relievers as an alternative
By now, you should know that ear infections are not reserved for kids only and can affect anyone despite the age. Comfortable Sleep with an ear infection might have seemed an impossible feat to achieve, but now, you have the tips. After all, nothing below the sun is impossible.
Gabe is the newest member of The Sleep Shop team. If you like the design of The Sleep Shop, give Gabe a thumbs up. He’s a digital marketing and design guru and the brains behind the design and SEO of The Sleep Shop. He also won’t say no to testing a ton of mattresses either, and helps on almost every mattress review.