How To Use Ear Drops
Prior to using ear drops, you should always read the instructions provided to you with your prescription. You can also speak to your pharmacist or doctor for advice on using them. The following instructions will help you use ear drops correctly.
- Lie down on a flat surface with a folded towel beneath your head and the affected ear facing the ceiling.
- Pull your earlobe up to straighten out the ear canal.
- Administer the appropriate number of drops into the ear.
- Push the ear flap gently to help ease the drops into the ear.
- Remain in this position for up to two minutes to ensure that the ear canal is fully coated with medicine.
- Have the child lie on the floor or bed with a towel beneath their head and their affected ear facing the ceiling.
- Hold their head still if they are squirming or fidgeting.
- Pull the earlobe out and down to straighten their ear canal..
- Administer the recommended number of drops
- Press on their ear flap or place a cotton ball gently into the ear and let it remain in position for several minutes to ensure that the medication coats the inside of their ear.
The process for infants is similar to children, but you can also cradle your infant while you administer the drops in an appropriate position that allows the medication to go into their ear properly.
What If My Ear Infection Doesnt Go Away After Antibiotics
If you or your child finish your course of antibiotics, but it seems like the ear infection hasnt gone away, make an appointment with your doctor. Theyll help figure out whats going on and what to do next. Theres a chance that your doctor may prescribe a different type of antibiotic to see if it works better.
Its also possible that the infection is gone but the symptoms arent. This can happen if theres still fluid trapped in the ear, causing a plugged-up feeling, pain or hearing loss. Most of the time the fluid in ears drains within a couple of weeks, but sometimes it sticks around longer.
Why Do Children Get Many More Ear Infections Than Adults Will My Child Always Get Ear Infections
Children are more likely than adults to get ear infections for these reasons:
- The eustachian tubes in young children are shorter and more horizontal. This shape encourages fluid to gather behind the eardrum.
- The immune system of children, which in the bodys infection-fighting system, is still developing.
- The adenoids in children are relatively larger than they are in adults. The adenoids are the small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. As they swell to fight infection, they may block the normal ear drainage from the eustachian tube into the throat. This blockage of fluid can lead to a middle ear infection.
Most children stop getting ear infections by age 8.
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Oral Antibiotics Have Risks
- Oral antibiotics are more likely to cause resistant bacteria outside the ear. When that happens, these medicines will not work as well in the future. Illnesses will be harder to cure and more costly to treat.
- Antibiotic eardrops kill the bacteria faster and more completely than oral antibiotics. Drops dont go into the bloodstream, so more medicine reaches the infection.
What Are The Symptoms Of Otitis Media
Symptoms of ear infection include:
- Ear pain: This symptom is obvious in older children and adults. In infants too young to speak, look for signs of pain like rubbing or tugging ears, crying more than usual, trouble sleeping, acting fussy/irritable.
- Loss of appetite: This may be most noticeable in young children, especially during bottle feedings. Pressure in the middle ear changes as the child swallows, causing more pain and less desire to eat.
- Irritability: Any kind of continuing pain may cause irritability.
- Poor sleep: Pain may be worse when the child is lying down because the pressure in the ear may worsen.
- Fever: Ear infections can cause temperatures from 100° F up to 104° F. Some 50% of children will have a fever with their ear infection.
- Drainage from the ear: Yellow, brown, or white fluid that is not earwax may seep from the ear. This may mean that the eardrum has ruptured .
- Trouble hearing: Bones of the middle ear connect to the nerves that send electrical signals to the brain. Fluid behind the eardrums slows down movement of these electrical signals through the inner ear bones.
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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.
How Do You Prevent Ear Infections
You may be able to prevent ear some ear infections if you:
- Use earplugs when swimming or diving
- Dry ears thoroughly after swimming
- Never use cotton swabs inside the ear canal
- Wash hands properly to prevent the spread of viruses
- Use soap and warm water and wash for at least 20 seconds
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Watchful Waiting Recommended For Otitis Media In Children34
In March 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics published an update to clinical practice guidelines for managing acute otitis media. The update extends the recommended approach of watchful waiting for patients as young as 6 months.
Encourage parents to keep an eye on their childs ears to see if the infection resolves without an antibiotic. Let them know that:
- 70% of ear infections get better within a few days
- Limiting antibiotic use helps ensure medicine works when its needed most
- When antibiotics are used too often, the bacteria theyve been designed to kill in your body can adapt and grow stronger over time, which makes it harder for the antibiotic to fight
- Antibiotics can have side effects
What Are The Types Of Ototopical Antibiotics
Ototopical antibiotics are available in three forms:
Powders are not approved by FDA, but regionally compounded powders have been in use for years. Powders have the advantage of adhering to and remaining for a long time in moist surfaces. Powders are prepared with several components.
Two preparations of powders used are:
- Gold dust: comprised of chloramphenicol, sulfanilamide and hydrocortisone
- Mastoid powder: comprised of ciprofloxacin, clotrimazole, dexamethasone and boric acid
Creams and ointments
Creams and antibiotics are applied only for bacterial and fungal infections in the external ear and auditory canal, usually with a single dose. Following are some of the antibiotic ointments and creams used for external ear infections:
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What Causes An Infection
Millions of microbes live on our skin and inside our body, and generally cause little harm. Trillions more live in the environment or on other animals. The most common organisms that can cause infection include:
- Bacteria. These are microscopic, usually single-celled organisms that are food everywhere . Common bacterial infections include acne, pneumonia, bronchitis, and ear infections.
- Viruses. These consist of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat, that is only able to multiply within the living cells of a host. Common viral infections include the colds, flu, and herpes
- Fungi. These are multicellular organisms that are free-living in soil or water or form parasitic or symbiotic relationships with plants or animals. Examples of fungal infections include Vaginal thrush and athletes foot.
- Parasites. These live in or on an organism of another species and derive nutrients at the hosts expense, such as pinworms or tape worms.
- Prions. These are a type of protein that can trigger normal proteins in the brain to fold abnormally. Some are spread by infected meat products .
Normally, your immune system helps protect your body against these invaders. However, cancer, chemotherapy, medications such as steroids, heavy metals, toxins, a poor diet or sleep, and many other health conditions can damage your immune system reducing your ability to fight infection.
Where Is The Middle Ear
The middle ear is behind the eardrum and is also home to the delicate bones that aid in hearing. These bones are the hammer , anvil and stirrup . To provide the bigger picture, lets look at the whole structure and function of the ear:
The ear structure and function
There are three main parts of the ear: outer, middle and inner.
- The outer ear is the outside external ear flap and the ear canal .
- The middle ear is the air-filled space between the eardrum and the inner ear. The middle ear houses the delicate bones that transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. This is where ear infections occur.
- The inner ear contains the snail-shaped labyrinth that converts sound vibrations received from the middle ear to electrical signals. The auditory nerve carries these signals to the brain.
Other nearby parts
- The eustachian tube regulates air pressure within the middle ear, connecting it to the upper part of the throat.
- Adenoids are small pads of tissue above the throat and behind the nose and near the eustachian tubes. Adenoids help fight infection caused by bacteria that enters through the mouth.
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How Can I Tell If My Child Has An Ear Infection
Most ear infections happen to children before theyve learned how to talk. If your child isnt old enough to say My ear hurts, here are a few things to look for:
- Tugging or pulling at the ear
- Fussiness and crying
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Clumsiness or problems with balance
- Trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds
Otitis Media In Adults
Otitis media is another name for a middle ear infection. It means an infection behind your eardrum. This kind of ear infection can happen after any condition that keeps fluid from draining from the middle ear. These conditions include allergies, a cold, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.
Middle ear infections are common in children, but they can also happen in adults. An ear infection in an adult may mean a more serious problem than in a child. So you may need additional tests. If you have an ear infection, you should see your healthcare provider for treatment. If they happen repeatedly, you should see an otolaryngologist or an otologist .
What are the types of middle ear infections?
Infections can affect the middle ear in several ways. They are:
Who is more likely to get a middle ear infection?
You are more likely to get an ear infection if you:
- Smoke or are around someone who smokes
- Have seasonal or year-round allergy symptoms
- Have a cold or other upper respiratory infection
What causes a middle ear infection?
The middle ear connects to the throat by a canal called the eustachian tube. This tube helps even out the pressure between the outer ear and the inner ear. A cold or allergy can irritate the tube or cause the area around it to swell. This can keep fluid from draining from the middle ear. The fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Bacteria and viruses can grow in this fluid. The bacteria and viruses cause the middle ear infection.
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Can You Treat An Ear Infection At Home
It depends on the severity.
Mild-to-moderate ear infections frequently go away on their own. Fortunately, you can usually treat your symptoms at home in these situations. The CDC recommends rest, plenty of fluids, and pain relievers as the main home remedies for ear infections.
But severe ear infections cant, and shouldnt, be treated at home. You may need to take antibiotic or antiviral medications. Antibiotics and antivirals arent available OTC theyre only available with a prescription. In rare cases, your healthcare provider may also need to insert a small tube to help your ear drain.
If you need an antiviral medication, you should start taking it as soon as possible. For instance, if a virus like the flu has led to an ear infection, antiviral medications should ideally be taken within a few days of getting sick.
If you need an antibiotic, time isnt usually as sensitive. Your healthcare provider may recommend taking them right away, or they could recommend that you watch and wait before attempting to treat the infection.
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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How Are Dog Ear Infections Treated
Your veterinarian will thoroughly clean your dogs ears using a medicated ear cleanser. Your vet may also prescribe an ear cleanser and a topical medication for you to use at home. In severe cases, your vet may prescribe oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.
Most uncomplicated ear infections resolve within 12 weeks, once appropriate treatment begins. But severe infections or those due to underlying conditions may take months to resolve, or may become chronic problems. In cases of severe chronic disease where other treatments have failed, your veterinarian may recommend surgery such as a Total Ear Canal Ablation . A TECA surgery removes the ear canal, thus removing the diseased tissue and preventing the recurrence of infection.
It is important to follow your veterinarians instructions closely and return to the veterinary hospital for any recommended recheck appointments. Lapses in your dogs treatment may lead to the recurrence of the infection. It is especially important that you finish the full course of your dogs medication, even if your dog appears to be getting better. Failure to finish the full course of treatment may lead to additional problems such as resistant infections.
Which Antibiotic Is Best For An Ear Infection
Two classes of antibiotics are commonly used to treat an ear infection.
Aminoglycosides have been the main treatment for bacterial ear infections for decades. Two aminoglycosides used in ototopical preparations are:
Though both of the above are commonly used in the United States, only neomycin has FDA approval. Neomycin is effective for gram-positive bacteria but its effectiveness against gram-negative bacteria has declined over years, especially against Pseudomonas, the most common bacteria in ear infections.
Tobramycin is effective for Pseudomonas and other gram-negative bacteria.
Quinolones are the most recently introduced ototopical antibiotics. Most quinolone antibiotics in use are fluoroquinolones, which also contain an atom of fluorine. Fluoroquinolones are considered the best available treatment now for ear infections for two reasons:
- Broad spectrum of activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria
- Lack of ototoxicity
Following are some of the FDA-approved fluoroquinolone solutions for external ear infection from Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa:
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How Is An Acute Middle Ear Infection Treated
Many doctors will prescribe an antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, to be taken over seven to 10 days. Your doctor also may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or eardrops, to help with fever and pain.
If your doctor isnt able to make a definite diagnosis of OM and your child doesnt have severe ear pain or a fever, your doctor might ask you to wait a day or two to see if the earache goes away. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines in 2013 that encourage doctors to observe and closely follow these children with ear infections that cant be definitively diagnosed, especially those between the ages of 6 months to 2 years. If theres no improvement within 48 to 72 hours from when symptoms began, the guidelines recommend doctors start antibiotic therapy. Sometimes ear pain isnt caused by infection, and some ear infections may get better without antibiotics. Using antibiotics cautiously and with good reason helps prevent the development of bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics.
If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, its important to make sure your child takes it exactly as prescribed and for the full amount of time. Even though your child may seem better in a few days, the infection still hasnt completely cleared from the ear. Stopping the medicine too soon could allow the infection to come back. Its also important to return for your childs follow-up visit, so that the doctor can check if the infection is gone.