You wake up with that pain, swelling and redness. You know immediately what it is —an earache. Yes, it's painful and annoying, but there is good news: Earaches usually clear up after a few days and many don’t require a visit to the doctor.

More good news: There are some safe home remedies you can use to relieve pain and clear up an earache. A word of warning, though: You’ll notice these remedies do not involve putting anything (other than ear drops) in your ear. If you find a home remedy that does, check with your doctor before trying it to avoid damaging your ears.

Use ear drops. Three to 5 drops a day can help fight infection, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle.

Drain your ears. You can do this in a variety of ways. Try eating spicy food, drinking lots of water, gargling with salt water, or propping your head up with a few extra pillows.

Try a little warmth. A hot water bottle or wet, warm towel placed on the ear can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Get garlicky. Eating a clove or two of raw garlic can help fight infection. If you don’t want to chomp on a whole piece of garlic, you can take garlic supplements daily for a similar effect.

When should you see a doctor?

If your earache persists more than a few days or increases in intensity.

If you experience hearing loss , fever, neck stiffness, or vomiting.

If you have diabetes or a compromised immune system.

If your infant under 8 weeks old experiences earache symptoms.

A good rule of thumb: If you think you need to see a doctor, don’t hesitate. Left untreated, some ear infections can cause inner-ear scarring or even hearing loss.

If you’re experiencing hearing loss, come into Hearing Associates, P.C. for a hearing evaluation.