When Should I Talk To A Doctor About An Ear Infection
If the ear infection symptoms dont improve within a few days, make a primary care appointment. Other signs that its time to see a doctor include:
- Ear pain that lasts more than two days
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Changes or loss of hearing
- Fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit
- Frequent or recurrent ear infections
What Happens If My Child Keeps Getting Ear Infections
To keep a middle ear infection from coming back, it helps to limit some of the factors that might put your child at risk, such as not being around people who smoke and not going to bed with a bottle. In spite of these precautions, some children may continue to have middle ear infections, sometimes as many as five or six a year. Your doctor may want to wait for several months to see if things get better on their own but, if the infections keep coming back and antibiotics arent helping, many doctors will recommend a surgical procedure that places a small ventilation tube in the eardrum to improve air flow and prevent fluid backup in the middle ear. The most commonly used tubes stay in place for six to nine months and require follow-up visits until they fall out.
If placement of the tubes still doesnt prevent infections, a doctor may consider removing the adenoids to prevent infection from spreading to the eustachian tubes.
How To Administer Antibacterial Ear Drops
Antibiotic ear drops are for the ears only and should never be put into the eyes. Always take the entire prescribed amount even if your symptoms improve as it prevents a recurrence of the infection.
Follow these steps to correctly administer ear drops:
- Warm the bottle in your hand for two minutes, inserting cold ear drops can cause dizziness
- Wash your hands
- Have the person with the ear infection lie on their side with the problem ear up
- For children three years and older, gently pull the outer ear outward and upward in the direction toward the top of their head
- For children younger than three years, gently pull the outer eat outward and downward in the direction toward their feet
- Without allowing the dropper to touch the ear, carefully put the drops in the ear
- Remain laying on their side for two minutes or put a cotton plug in the ear
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Before Using Antipyrine And Benzocaine Otic
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to antipyrine or benzocaine or any other medications.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take.
- tell your doctor if you have a hole in your ear drum or ear tube. Your doctor will probably tell you not to use this medication.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using antipyrine and benzocaine otic, call your doctor.
What Is The Best Antibiotic For Ear Infections
A doctor will determine the type of ear infection through physical examination and patient interview. A diagnosis of acute otitis media can be confirmed by the presence of pus near the eardrum in the middle ear.
It is worth noting that not all cases of otitis media or outer ear canal infection require antibiotic treatment. The bodys immune system can fight off many infections on its own. Typically, antibiotics are only indicated for a severe infection or an ear infection that worsens or does not improve within 2 to 3 days.
In mild cases, your doctor may advise the wait-and-see approach to see if rest, extra fluid intake, and pain medication can relieve earache and fever while the body fights off the infection. In that case, your doctor may send a prescription for antibiotics to be on hold at the pharmacy, then to be used if your signs and symptoms do not go away in a couple of days.
Oral Antibiotics Help Treat Swimmers Ear When:
- Infection spreads beyond the ear.
- The person has other conditions, such as diabetes, that increase the risk of complications.
This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.
Evidence Of An Inflammation
Still, it was found that prescription-only ear drops seemed to effectively relieve the symptoms of outer ear infections. Some studies also looked at combinations of different types of drugs, but none of the treatments were found to be better or worse than others.
Theres no that over-the-counter disinfectant ear drops are as effective as ear drops containing or steroids.
Doctors can help people decide which prescription ear drops are most suitable.
All ear drops can also have side effects such as burning sensations or rashes. But side effects are unlikely if you use the ear drops properly. If you arent sure how to use them, you can consult the package insert or ask your doctor.
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Treating Middle Ear Infections
The middle ear is internal. It starts behind the eardrum and goes to the oval window . It contains three tiny bones, called the ossicles, that are necessary for hearing function.
The auditory tube runs from the middle ear to the throat. Its function is to ventilate and equalize pressure in the middle ear. Fluid from the middle ear space drains into the throat and is usually swallowed.
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Differences Between Middle Ear Infection And Outer Ear Infection
|Middle ear infection
|Outer ear infection
|Middle ear infection Usually affects children
|Outer ear infection Usually affects adults aged 45 to 75
|Middle ear infection Caused by viruses like colds and flu
|Outer ear infection Caused by something irritating the ear canal, such as eczema, water or wearing ear plugs
|Middle ear infection Affects the middle ear
|Outer ear infection Affects the ear canal
What Should I Expect If I Or My Child Has An Ear Infection
Ear infections are common in children. Adults can get them too. Most ear infections are not serious. Your healthcare provider will recommend over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever. Pain relief may begin as soon as a few hours after taking the drug.
Your healthcare provider may wait a few days before prescribing an antibiotic. Many infections go away on their own without the need for antibiotics. If you or your child receives an antibiotic, you should start to see improvement within two to three days.
If you or your child has ongoing or frequent infections, or if fluid remains in the middle ear and puts hearing at risk, ear tubes may be surgically implanted in the eardrum to keep fluid draining from the eustachian tube as it normally should.
Never hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions.
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Treating Inner Ear Infections
The inner ear is located next to the middle ear within the temporal bone. The inner ear contains the semicircular canals, which are essential to balance and equilibrium.
Inner ear infections are much more likely to be caused by a virus than a bacterial infection. They are much less common than outer ear infections or middle ear infections.
The most common inner ear infections include labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis, which are slightly different conditions.
Labyrinthitis affects the labyrinth, which is a system of fluid-filled sacs that helps you hear and gives you a sense of balance. Labyrinthitis can cause both hearing changes and dizziness, or vertigo.
Vestibular neuritis is an inner ear infection that affects the vestibular nerve and usually causes dizziness and balance issues but no hearing changes.
There is no specific diagnostic test to identify an inner ear infection, so misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is common.
Risk Factors For Ear Infections
Ear infections occur most commonly in young children because they have short and narrow Eustachian tubes. About of children develop an acute ear infection at some point.
Infants who are bottle-fed also have a higher incidence of ear infections than their breastfed counterparts.
Other factors that increase the risk of developing an ear infection are:
- altitude changes
- Take OTC decongestants like pseudoephedrine .
- Avoid sleeping on the affected ear.
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What Are Symptoms Of Ear Infections
Symptoms of ear infections include:
Additional signs of ear infections in young children and infants may also include:
- Pulling on the ear/rubbing the ear
Middle ear infection is usually caused by:
- Bacteria the most common bacterial causes include:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Haemophilus influenzae
Infections of the ear canal are usually caused by water that remains in the outer ear canal for an extended period of time, which, when combined with the earwax and debris already present in the ear canal, provided a moist environment for bacteria or yeast to grow and cause infection. While its commonly called swimmers ear, diving or bathing and showering can also permit just enough water into the ear to create a fertile breeding ground for infection.
What Is An Ear Infection
Otitis, or ear infections, is a condition that causes inflammation of the ear. It can occur in the middle ear, inner ear, or outer ear and can take on a few different variations depending on the specific type of infection that occurs. Some forms are referred to as a swimmers ear, otitis media, or labyrinthitis. The most common ear infection symptoms are pain in the ear as well as a fever, sore throat, or fussiness in children. Ear infections can be common in children so its important to know what non-verbal symptoms to look for and when to seek medical attention.
What Are Complications Of Ear Infections
Complications of ear infections are uncommon with proper treatment. Complications may include:
- Hearing loss: usually temporary but may become permanent if the eardrum or middle ear structures are damaged
- Infection that spreads to nearby tissues, such as infection of the mastoid bone, which helps drain middle ear fluid
- Eardrum tears: most will heal on their own within a few days, though in some cases surgery is needed to repair it
- Speech or developmental delays in infants and toddlers if hearing is impaired
How Is An Ear Infection Treated
Treatment of ear infections depends on age, severity of the infection, the nature of the infection and if fluid remains in the middle ear for a long period of time.
Your healthcare provider will recommend medications to relieve you or your childs pain and fever. If the ear infection is mild, depending on the age of the child, your healthcare provider may choose to wait a few days to see if the infection goes away on its own before prescribing an antibiotic.
Antibiotics may be prescribed if bacteria are thought to be the cause of the ear infection. Your healthcare provider may want to wait up to three days before prescribing antibiotics to see if a mild infection clears up on its own when the child is older. If your or your childs ear infection is severe, antibiotics might be started right away.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended when to prescribe antibiotics and when to consider waiting before prescribing based on your childs age, severity of their infection, and your childs temperature. Their recommendations are shown in the table below.
American Academy of Pediatrics Treatment Guide for Acute Otitis Media
|in one or both ears
|Mild for < 48 hours and temp < 102.2Â° F
|Treat with antibiotic OR observe. If observe, start antibiotics if child worsens or doesnt improve within 48 to 72 hours of start of symptoms
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Antibiotics For Ear Infections: The Best Treatment Options
Ear infections are incredibly common in children, and they can also affect adults. Oftentimes ear infections go away in a few days without any treatment. When an ear infection is severe or doesnt resolve on its own, antibiotics may be a necessary and effective treatment.
In this article, Ill describe the different types of ear infections that affect children and adults. Then Ill discuss the antibiotics used to treat ear infections and their possible side effects.
Finally, Ill explain other treatment options, how best to prevent ear infections, and when you should speak with your doctor or pediatrician.
What Are The Symptoms Of An Infection
Symptoms may vary depending on what part of your body is infected. For example, if a cut in your skin is infected, symptoms typically include redness and swelling around the area and a yellow discharge. Infections in the body generally have more widespread symptoms such as:
- Changes in consciousness
- Redness, soreness, swelling, or a discharge in a certain area
- Runny nose or nasal congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat or mouth sores
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How To Take Oral Antibiotics
Its important to always take your antibiotics as prescribed. It may be tempting to combine the doses, but they will not be as effective and could lead to adverse side effects, such as stomach upset.
Even if you begin to feel better, you should continue to take the antibiotics until you finish your medication to prevent the infection from returning. You should avoid alcohol while taking antibiotics.
While antibiotics are good for clearing a bacterial infection, they can also rid the body of helpful “good” bacteria at the same time. Because of this, you may want to consider taking a probiotic supplement while you are on antibiotics.
Probiotics are living organisms that can help to prevent the imbalance of bacteria within your gut that often comes from taking antibiotics. Studies have shown that taking probiotics while taking antibiotics can lower the chances of side effects from a bacterial imbalance, such as gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea.
Whats The Best Antibiotic For An Ear Infection
Because each person and each ear infection is unique, there is no simple answer to this question. One of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for ear infections is amoxicillin. However, some types of bacteria are becoming resistant to it because of its frequent, and usually unnecessary, use.
Ciprofloxacin is another commonly used antibiotic for fighting bacterial ear infections. The important thing is to follow the directions for whichever antibiotic your medical provider prescribes and to complete the entire treatment. Not completing the entire treatment increases the risk for recurrent infections and evolving bacteria that becomes resistant to antibiotics.
A couple days after starting the antibiotic, you may feel like the infection is gone. However, not completing the medication can allow the infection to return and for the bacteria to grow resistant to that antibiotic.
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Research On Treatments For Outer Ear Infections
Researchers from the analyzed the results of 19 randomized controlled trials that tested various treatments for outer ear infections. Almost 3,400 children and adults with an acute outer ear infection took part in these good-quality studies. The researchers didnt include studies on chronic outer ear infections.
Most of the studies were done in specialized ENT departments. The problem with that is that many people go to their family doctor when they have an earache they are referred to specialized ENT practices or clinics only if the infection is especially severe. So it might not be possible to apply the results of the study to all patients who have an outer ear infection.
Also, the treatments in the various studies weren’t always done in the same way. Because of this, it isnt possible to draw any reliable conclusions about the advantages and disadvantages of the various ear drops and sprays.
How Do I Know If I Have An Ear Infection
Bacteria, viruses, or fungi can cause ear infections. But because you cant see inside your ear with the naked eye, your symptoms may be the only way to suspect if you have one. And they can vary depending on the area of the ear thats infected.
If you or your child have symptoms like these, an ear infection could be a possibility. To confirm an ear infection, a healthcare provider typically needs to look inside your ear using a medical device called an otoscope. They can also check to see if a bacteria, virus, or something else is causing your infection.
Keep in mind that more serious symptoms can also develop that require prompt medical attention. More on these later.
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