Virtual Appointment With Your Primary Care Doctor
You can also schedule a virtual appointment with the doctor that usually cares for you or your child. Theyll have the best information about your familys health and what treatments may be appropriate. If necessary, your childs primary care doctor can prescribe antibiotics and recommend additional treatments.
Keep in mind that if its only been a couple days since the ear infection started, you may not get a prescription for antibiotics. Your doctor will likely recommend treating the ear infection with OTC pain relievers and scheduling another appointment after a week or so. Its also possible that the doctor may want to see you or your child in person.
What Are The Complications
The most serious complications secondary to ear infections are mastoiditis and meningitis . Both are extremely rare.
Chronic draining ears and chronic perforations are uncommon, but occur more frequently as a result of resistant pneumococcus. However, these complications are commonly seen in developing countries where antibiotics are not readily available. Permanent hearing loss from very severe recurrent infections is a major concern, but is still rarely observed with effective antibiotic therapy. Children with an ear infection suffer only some temporary, low grade hearing loss. As the fluid resolves, which may take months, the hearing returns to baseline levels.
Your child’s doctor may work with an ear-nose-and-throat doctor to help treat the more severely afflicted child, or one who has suspected chronic hearing loss. Children with chronic fluid persisting for more than four months, or with more than five or six ear infections in a year, may require the insertion of “tubes.” This is most important during the first two years of life when hearing is critical for speech and language development. Chronic ear infections may aggravate learning and later school problems, but cause and effect on this issue remains speculative.
Should I Use Antibiotics For An Ear Infection
Antibiotics are a medicine prescribed by your doctor. If youre dealing with an ear infection caused by bacteria, youll likely need antibiotics. They are the best way of quickly getting rid of a bacterial infection and preventing it from spreading to other parts of the body.
The catch is that antibiotics dont work against viruses if you use antibiotics on a viral ear infection, it can actually make the infection worse. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to a condition called antibiotic resistance, which means that the medicine becomes less effective at fighting off bacteria.
Thats why doctors are careful about using antibiotics wisely and may not immediately prescribe them for ear infections.
Also Check: Sinus Infection When To Go To Doctor
Middle Ear Infections In Children
Acute Otitis Media
An inflammation in the middle ear is known as “otitis media.” AOM is a middle ear infection caused by bacteria in the middle ear fluid trapped by a Eustachian tube that is not working well. AOM may develop during or after a cold or the flu. With AOM:
- Middle ear infections are extremely common in children younger than 3. But they are infrequent in adults.
- In children, ear infections often recur, particularly if they first develop in early infancy.
- AOM symptoms improve within 48 to 72 hours with or without antibiotic treatment in most children. There does not appear to be any risks of complications for at least the first 2 to 3 days.
- Even after symptoms subside, fluid may persist in the middle ear for weeks to months after AOM onset.
Otitis Media with Effusion
OME occurs when fluid, called an effusion, becomes trapped behind the eardrum in one or both ears. In chronic and severe cases, the fluid is very sticky and is commonly called “glue ear.” With OME:
- Fluid is present. But there is no infection.
- There is usually no pain. Sometimes the only clue that it is present is a feeling of stuffiness in the ears, which can feel like “being under water.”
- Hearing may be temporarily impaired in children. But most children will not have long-term hearing loss.
Chronic Otitis Media
Check If Its An Ear Infection
The symptoms of an ear infection usually start quickly and include:
- discharge running out of the ear
- a feeling of pressure or fullness inside the ear
- itching and irritation in and around the ear
- scaly skin in and around the ear
Young children and babies with an ear infection may also:
- rub or pull their ear
- not react to some sounds
- be irritable or restless
- be off their food
- keep losing their balance
Most ear infections clear up within 3 days, although sometimes symptoms can last up to a week.
|Inner ear infection|
Recommended Reading: Autoinsufflation Ear Infection
Don’t Miss: Infection Control Manual For Assisted Living Facilities
Home Remedies For Bacterial Sinusitis
In many cases, home remedies may be sufficient. Some people find breathing humid air or steam, such as in a warm shower, helps to relieve symptoms. Also, holding a warm pad over the painful area helps to relieve discomfort. Nasal irrigation with saline solution is helpful in reducing congestion in the nose. It is also very important to stay well-hydrated, so affected people should be sure to drink enough fluids.
Should My Child See Her Pediatrician For An Ear Infection
In some cases with older babies and toddlers, mild symptoms may go away on their own. But if your child is under 6 months old, has a high fever, severe pain, drainage or swelling in the ear, its time to call your pediatrician. However, your doctor wont necessarily prescribe antibiotics right away. Ear infections are caused by both bacteria and viruses, so antibiotics arent always the solution. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, there are several reasons why doctors dont prescribe antibiotics for every ear infection:
- Antibiotics dont work for ear infections caused by viruses.
- Antibiotics dont help the pain associated with ear infections
- Infections from both viruses and bacteria often disappear without antibiotics in a few days, especially in children over two years old.
- Physicians are keenly aware that the overprescription of antibiotics makes vital medicines less effective, so we work hard to use them only when truly necessary. In many cases, your doctor will watch the infection for a few days to see if it goes away on its own.
Recommended Reading: Warm Salt Water For Tooth Infection
Clogged Ears: Causes Symptoms And Treatment Options
In this article:
It is common for people to experience sudden stuffiness in their ears, which is often short-lived. More often than not, you may experience this stuffiness along with diminished hearing, pain, and imbalance, on account of a clogged ear or Eustachian tube dysfunction.
Almost anyone can suffer from a clogged ear, but it affects children more frequently than adults, especially during a common cold or nasal allergy.
Ear Infections: Treatment Without Antibiotics
In many cases, ear infections should be allowed to run their course while managing pain, says a pediatrician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children.
Ear infections are one of the top reasons young children are brought to the doctor’s office.
As a pediatrician, I have spent a lot of time diagnosing ear infections, one of the most common illnesses of early childhood. Ear infections can make toddlers extremely irritable and cause babies to cry all night, which is why parents turn to their pediatrician for help.
My approach to treat these infections is not to prescribe antibiotics for every case, based on updated recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I ask parents to hold off on antibiotics if the child is older than age 2, is not seriously ill, and has no history of ear problems or medical complications.
You May Like: Can You Have A Tooth Infection Without Tooth Pain
How Is An Ear Infection Diagnosed
Once youre at the doctors office, a medical professional will look inside your ear with an otoscope to determine whether you have an infection.
Typical signs include fluid buildup in the ear canal and middle ear, along with a red and inflamed eardrum.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend waiting a few days to see if your ear infection improves.
Some infections resolve on their own. But if the infection is severe, or if symptoms dont improve after this time, then antibiotics may be warranted.
Chronic fluid buildup without an infection warrants additional testing from an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
Its especially important to diagnose young children so that they dont encounter speech and language delays from loss of hearing.
If your doctor recommends antibiotics to treat a severe ear infection, they will likely recommend an oral treatment, such as amoxicillin .
Why Do Kids Get So Many Ear Infections
The NIH points to several reasons why kids are more likely to get ear infections:
- Childrens eustachian tubes are smaller and more level than those of adults. This means its harder for fluid to drain from the ear, so if a childs tubes get blocked by mucus from another respiratory infection, fluid may not drain properly.
- Childrens immune systems are still developing so it can be harder for them to fight infections.
- In children, if bacteria gets trapped in the adenoids , it can cause a chronic infection that gets passed to the eustachian tubes and middle ear.
Also Check: What Cells Are Infected And Destroyed In Hiv Infection
How Does It Cause Disease
As long as air entering from the back of the nose is able to reach the middle ear space via the eustachian tube, the middle ear rarely becomes infected. The eustachian tube in younger children is flimsy and easily collapses. As the child grows, the cartilage tissue surrounding the eustachian tube becomes stiffer, longer, and more angulated inside the skull.
Pneumococcus, Haemophilus, and Moraxella commonly reside in the back of the nose, and do not infect the child. Once a child becomes infected with a respiratory virus, it not only causes congestion of the nose and the lungs, but also of the eustachian tube. When this tube becomes clogged, the cells in the middle ear space produce a fluid-like substance, which allows bacteria to grow and infect the middle ear space. A virus infection precedes up to 90% of cases of acute otitis media.
Respiratory virus infections also trigger ear infections by upsetting the body’s normal defenses in the nose and the eustachian tube, and allowing certain normal bacteria that reside in the nose to “stick” better to the lining of the nose and the eustachian tube. Certain viruses, such as the flu and RSV , are more frequently associated with ear infections. Occasionally, the child’s nose becomes colonized by a new aggressive strain of bacteria, which rapidly invades the middle ear. Unfortunately, more exposures to viruses and new strains of bacteria increase the likelihood of ear infections.
What Antibiotic Treats Uti In Dogs
Antibiotics for dogs and cats, like Cephalexin or Clavamox, are the most common treatment for UTIs due to their ability to destroy and inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Some veterinarians recommend a follow-up urine culture after antibiotic treatment is complete to confirm that the infection has been eradicated.
Recommended Reading: Alcohol Ringing In Ears
Recommended Reading: Otc Urinary Tract Infection Medication
The Natural History Of Aom
Surprisingly, clinical outcome of antibiotic therapy for AOM correlates poorly with in vitro antibiotic sensitivity of the causative organism. Most experimental evidence demonstrates that clinical outcome is determined chiefly by host and pathogen factors and that antibiotic therapy plays a smaller role. In general, antibiotic therapy has little effect on long-term outcome of AOM, such as clearance of effusion. The high rate of spontaneous resolution and the frequent occurrence of recalcitrant AOM have made it almost impossible to demonstrate any significant difference between different antibiotic therapies in clinical trials.
Chlamydia pneumoniae is an atypical pathogen commonly associated with upper respiratory infections in children. It differs from the otitis pathogens just described in that it is relatively insensitive to b-lactams but, for now at least, remains sensitive to macrolides. In fact, C pneumoniae has been recently detected by culture or polymerase chain reaction in up to 8% of middle ear specimens.19 However, it is also commonly found in nasopharyngeal specimens from well preschoolers.20 In the few cases of C pneumoniae associated AOM studied, most infected patients improved without macrolide therapy. Clearly, this area needs further study. For now, we do not believe that the theoretical benefit of action against atypical organisms justifies the use of macrolide antibiotics as routine second-line therapy for amoxicillin-unresponsive AOM.
How Can An Ear Infection Be Prevented
The simplest preventive measures include the following:
- Breastfeed an infant during the first 12 months of life
- For bottle-fed infants, never prop the bottle and wean off the bottle by 12 months
- Do not smoke around the baby, particularly in the household or the car
- Do not smoke during pregnancy
- Consider a private sitter or a smaller daycare, instead of a high volume daycare
- Avoid the introduction of solid foods in the first four months of life
- Administer the flu vaccine annually after six months of age
- Consider allergen avoidance and allergy shots in older children with chronic fluid
- Administer Prevnar vaccine to infants less than 24 months of age
More controversial preventive measures include the following:
- Avoid the pacifier
- Give the pneumococcal vaccine to infants and children older than 24 months who are unvaccinated with Prevnar and still getting recurrent ear infections
Ineffective measures include the following:
- Covering a childs head with a hat during the winter
- Using decongestants and antihistamines to prevent ear infections
- Chiropractic manipulation
Don’t Miss: Can Vagisil Cream Cure A Yeast Infection
A Pharmacist Can Help With An Ear Infection
Speak to a pharmacist if you think you have an outer ear infection.
They can recommend acidic eardrops to help stop bacteria or fungus spreading.
- a long-term medical condition such as diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
- a weakened immune system because of chemotherapy, for example
Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your childs illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
Treatment for an Ear Infection
Recommended Reading: Where To Go For Kidney Infection
Response To Antibiotic Treatment
Your child’s symptoms, including fever, should improve within 48 to 72 hours after beginning antibiotics. If symptoms do not improve it may be because a virus is present or the bacteria causing the ear infection is resistant to the prescribed antibiotic. A different antibiotic may be needed.
In some children whose treatment is successful, fluid will still remain in the middle ear for weeks or months, even after the infection has resolved. During that period, children may have some hearing problems, but eventually the fluid almost always drains away.
If your child fails to improve and middle ear fluid remains, your doctor may recommend consultation with an ear, nose, and throat specialist . This specialist may perform a tympanocentesis procedure in which fluid is drawn from the ear and examined for specific bacterial organisms. But this is reserved for severe cases.
How Do Adults Get Ear Infections
Adults with weakened immune systems and certain medical conditions are more likely to get ear infections. For example, if you have diabetes, it can cause an inflammatory response throughout your body including your middle and inner ear. Having skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis can increase the chance that you get an outer ear infection.
Also Check: Sinus Infection In Chest Symptoms
Other Types Of Ear Infections
Acute otitis externa is an inflammation or infection of the outer ear and ear canal. It can be triggered by water that gets trapped in the ear. The trapped water can cause bacteria and fungi to breed. Otitis externa can also be precipitated by overly aggressively scratching or cleaning of ears or when an object gets stuck in the ears.
Otitis externa is generally treated with topical antibiotics, which will cure the infection and help relieve pain. With eardrops, most cases will clear up within 2 to 3 days. If the condition persists, the doctor will need to evaluate and rule out other possible causes.
Is It Safe To Fly With An Ear Infection
The question Is It Safe to Fly with An Ear Infection almost occurs in everybodys mind who have an ear or sinus infection.
If possible, its best to avoid flying if you have an ear infection or Flying with An Ear Infection Child. These block the Eustachian tubes, placing additional pressure on the eardrum.
Whenever it is continual, increased pressure on the eardrum, it may cause ear rupture.
While flying with an ear infection doesnt always result in a ruptured eardrum, but it can be very painful and uncomfortable.
Also Check: Does A Throbbing Tooth Mean Infection