Apple cider vinegar has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years, spurred by people convinced of its natural health benefits. Some even believe that individuals suffering from ear infections in Portland may find relief from apple cider vinegar (ACV). But is there any truth to these claims?
Antimicrobial Properties of ACV
Ear infections can occur in different portions of the ear but are most common in the middle ear. This condition, known medically as otitis media, is caused by a virus or bacteria associated with a cold, flu or allergies. Children are more susceptible than adults because of their anatomy; the Eustachian tube, an organ responsible for regulating air pressure and draining fluids in the middle ear, is narrower and positioned more horizontally in growing kids, making it more likely to become clogged.
Symptoms include ear pain, fluid drainage and difficulty hearing. Kids may be fussier than usual, experience a headache and fever and have a loss of appetite. Ear infections often clear up on their own; treatment involves monitoring the condition, pain medication and antibiotics if the cause is a bacterial infection. In recurring cases, surgery or ear tubes might be recommended.
Some people believe that ACV can be used to treat ear infections. While there is no evidence to support that claim, research suggests that apple cider vinegar does have antimicrobial properties that help neutralize certain microorganisms, such as bacteria. A 2018 study looked at the general antimicrobial effects of ACV and found that it effectively prohibited the growth of two types of bacteria commonly associated with ear infections—E. Coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Bacterial culture samples were prepared and mixed with immune cells; when ACV was added, these samples displayed less inflammation. This leads scientists to theorize that the acetic acid, an ingredient that causes damage to microbial cell walls, in ACV may be responsible for reducing the severity of some bacterial infections. Another study in 2017 found evidence of strong antibacterial properties in ACV, even in low concentrations, though it’s unclear whether ACV has antiviral effects. As promising as this research has been, it’s unclear whether results in people will mirror those of the lab-based bacterial cultures. Well-controlled human studies are the next step in the process.
Treating an Ear Infection with ACV
While its exact benefits are unclear, treating an ear infection at home with apple cider vinegar should be safe—but always speak to your Portland ear, nose and throat specialist before trying an alternative remedy. To use, make ear drops using equal parts ACV and warm water. Tilt your head so the affected ear is facing up and squeeze 4-5 drops of the mixture into your ear using a dropper or syringe. Keep your head tilted for a few minutes so the mixture will reach the ear canal and then tilt it in the opposite direction to allow the mixture to drain out. Repeat this process several times a day to help promote healing. Always dilute the ACV; stronger concentrations could damage the sensitive skin of the ear. If you experience any irritation, discontinue use. Don’t use ACV if you are experiencing drainage or infection.
For more information on treating an ear infection, speak to a hearing doctor in Portland.