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    Ear Infection During Pregnancy: Understanding the Risks and Remedies


    Ear Infection During Pregnancy: Understanding the Risks and Remedies

    Updated on 12 March 2024

    The ears are often a neglected body part until pain or infection in the ears begins to trouble us. This can especially be alarming if it happens during pregnancy. So, if you’re an expecting mother wondering the reasons, risks or remedies for ear pain or ear infection during pregnancy, then this article is for you.

    In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, potential complications, and effective remedies for ear infections in pregnancy.

    Is there a relation between ear infection and pregnancy?

    Ear infections can occur at any time, but is there a connection between ear infection and pregnancy? Many women wonder if the changes in their bodies during pregnancy can make them more susceptible to ear infections. While there is no direct link between pregnancy and ear infections, there are certain factors that can increase the risk.

    Is ear pain during pregnancy a symptom of ear infection?

    Experiencing ear pain in pregnancy can be worrisome, but it doesn't always indicate an ear infection. Pregnancy hormones can cause various changes in the body, including increased blood flow to certain areas. This increased blood flow can lead to swelling and discomfort in the ears, resulting in ear pain.

    However, if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, dizziness, or discharge from the ear, it is more likely to be an ear infection. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional to determine the cause of the ear pain and receive appropriate treatment.

    You may also like: Sinus Infection During Pregnancy: Causes & Treatment

    Symptoms of ear infection

    Recognizing the symptoms of an ear infection, especially during pregnancy, is crucial for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Common symptoms of an ear infection include:

    • A sharp or throbbing pain in the ear that may worsen when lying down.
    • Difficulty hearing sounds clearly.
    • Pus or clear fluid may be discharged from the ear.
    • A low-grade fever may accompany an ear infection.
    • Feeling off-balance or experiencing vertigo.

    If any of these symptoms are present, it is important to seek medical attention to confirm the diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment.

    You may also like: Fever in Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Guide on Causes, Risks and Remedies

    What are the causes of ear infection during pregnancy?

    While there is no direct link between pregnancy and ear infections, there are several factors that can increase the risk of developing an ear infection in pregnancy.

    Here are five common causes of ear infections among expecting mothers:

    1. Weakened immune system

    Pregnancy can weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections, including ear infections.

    2. Hormonal changes

    Fluctuations in hormone levels can lead to increased mucus production, which can block the Eustachian tubes and create an environment for bacterial growth.

    3. Sinus congestion

    Pregnancy can cause nasal congestion and sinus pressure, which can contribute to the development of ear infections.

    4. Ear wax build-up

    Earwax is a natural substance that protects the ear from dust, bacteria, and other particles. However, when it accumulates and hardens, it can block the ear canal and lead to infection.

    5. Allergies

    Pregnant women with allergies may experience increased nasal congestion and inflammation, which can lead to ear infections.

    6. Exposure to germs

    Pregnancy often involves more frequent interactions with healthcare settings, increasing the risk of exposure to germs that can cause ear infections.

    You may also like: Infections During Pregnancy That Can Harm Your Baby

    Ear infection treatment in pregnancy

    Treating an ear infection in pregnancy requires caution to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby. Here are five effective ways to treat ear infections:

    1. Antibiotics

    In severe cases, a healthcare professional may prescribe antibiotics that are safe for use during pregnancy to combat the infection.

    2. Pain relief

    Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen can help alleviate the pain associated with an ear infection. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any medication during pregnancy.

    3. Warm compress

    Applying a warm compress to the affected ear can provide relief by reducing inflammation and easing pain.

    4. Nasal decongestants

    Using saline nasal sprays or rinses can help relieve nasal congestion and alleviate ear pressure.

    5. Rest and hydration

    Getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated can support the body's immune system and aid in the healing process.

    It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before attempting any treatment option to ensure its safety and effectiveness during pregnancy.

    You may also like: Migraine During Pregnancy: Causes, Treatments & When to Worry

    Home remedies for ear infections and ear pain in pregnancy

    In addition to medical treatments, there are several safe and natural home remedies that can provide relief from ear infections and ear pain during pregnancy. Here are five effective home remedies to consider:

    1. Warm olive oil

    Gently warming a few drops of olive oil and placing it in the affected ear can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

    2. Garlic oil

    Garlic has natural antibacterial properties. Applying a few drops of garlic oil to the ear can help fight infection and promote healing.

    3. Onion poultice

    Creating a poultice by heating a sliced onion and placing it in a cloth can provide warmth and relief when applied to the affected ear.

    4. Salt bag compress

    Placing a warm bag of salt near the infected area can help relieve pain caused by cold or sinus. Take 2 tbsp of salt in a pan and heat it. Using a cotton cloth, make a pack of salt and place it near the ear.

    5. Saltwater gargle

    Gargling with warm saltwater can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria in the throat, which can indirectly alleviate ear pain.

    6. Apple Cider Vinegar

    Apple cider vinegar is known to be a good fighter against fungus. You can take one teaspoon, mix it with water and use a cotton bud to dab the mixture and put it over the infected area.

    7. Steam inhalation

    Inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water can help relieve nasal congestion and reduce ear pressure.

    However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any home remedies to ensure their safety and efficacy during pregnancy.

    When to see a doctor?

    While many cases of ear infections during pregnancy can be managed at home, there are instances when medical attention is necessary. It is important to seek prompt medical care if:

    • The ear pain becomes severe or persists for more than a few days.

    • There is a high fever (above 100.4°F or 38°C).

    • There is discharge or bleeding from the ear.

    • The ear infection symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop.

    A healthcare professional can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options based on the severity of the infection.

    You may also like: Vaccination in Pregnancy: The Complete Schedule for Pregnant Women

    Steps for prevention

    Here are seven ways you can take care of your ears and prevent infections during pregnancy:

    1. Maintain proper ear hygiene

    Clean your ears gently with a warm cloth and avoid using cotton swabs, as they can push wax deeper into the ear canal and increase the risk of infection.

    2. Avoid exposure to excessive moisture

    Moisture can create a favorable environment for bacteria or fungi to grow in the ear. Dry your ears thoroughly after swimming or showering, and consider wearing earplugs while swimming.

    3. Avoid inserting foreign objects into the ear

    Objects like cotton swabs or hairpins can damage the delicate structures of the ear and increase the risk of infection.

    4. Avoid excessive pressure on the ear

    Sleeping on one side for too long may not directly cause ear infections, but it's important to avoid excessive pressure on the ear.

    5. Keep your immune system strong

    Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get enough rest to support your immune system during pregnancy. A strong immune system can help prevent infections, including ear infections.

    6. Stay away from people with respiratory infections

    Respiratory infections can sometimes lead to ear infections. Avoid close contact with individuals who have colds or other respiratory illnesses to reduce the risk.

    You may also like: What are the best sleeping positions during pregnancy?

    Final thoughts

    Experiencing an ear infection during pregnancy can be uncomfortable and worrisome. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, expectant mothers can take necessary precautions and seek appropriate medical care when needed. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before attempting any treatment or home remedy during pregnancy to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby. Remember, early intervention and proper care can help alleviate the discomfort and promote a healthy pregnancy.


    1. Shiny Sherlie V, Varghese A. (2014). ENT Changes of Pregnancy and Its Management. Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg.

    2. Vlastarakos PV, Nikolopoulos TP, Manolopoulos L, Ferekidis E, Kreatsas G. (2008). Treating common ear problems in pregnancy: what is safe? Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol.

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    Written by

    Charu Pratap

    Charu has been a seasoned corporate professional with over a decade of experience in Human Resource Management. She has managed the HR function for start-ups as well as established companies. But aside from her corporate career she was always fond of doing things with a creative streak. She enjoys gardening and writing and is an experienced content expert and linguist. Her own experiences with motherhood and raising a baby made her realize the importance of reliable and fact-based parenting information. She was engaged in creating content for publishing houses, research scholars, corporates as well as for her own blog.

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