Healthy Living

Ear Infection Medication: What Are You Being Prescribed?

Ear Infection Medication: What Are You Being Prescribed?

Several drugs are prescribed to you when you get an ear infection. Some drugs will be to get rid of the causative microorganism, whereas the other drugs are for symptomatic relief. This article will explain about the drugs that will be prescribed to you during an ear infection.


Many of the ear infections do not need any treatment as they resolve on their own. These are usually the ones caused by viruses. Therefore, all doctors tend to wait and watch if the infection resolves on its own unless there is an indication to start antibiotics. The indications for the use of antibiotics are:

  • Bacterial infection
  • If your child has an ear infection and is looking very ill.
  • If your child has an ear infection in both the ears.
  • If your child is at a higher risk of developing complications. 

The most commonly used antibiotic is amoxicillin because it works well on the organisms responsible for the ear infection and is also cost effective.

Once your doctor prescribes you or your child antibiotics, it is very important that you finish the entire course of the antibiotics even if you or your child feels better. If you do not comply with the drugs well or if you do not complete the full course of drugs as instructed, it will lead to the development of drug-resistant bacteria. Moreover, if you get infected by these resistant bacteria in the future, it will be a lot harder to treat. Thus, take your drugs just as your doctor instructed to get rid of an ear infection for once and for all.  

How do antibiotics work?

The most commonly used antibiotic for ear infections is amoxicillin. It weakens the bacterial cell wall making them hard to resist the environmental changes, and eventually swells and ruptures. These antibiotics basically kill the bacteria. They can be given either as a pill or by injection. Pills are the most preferred method because injections are very painful.

How effective are antibiotics?

Not everyone with an ear infection needs antibiotics. Only 1 out of 5 children normally require antibiotics. Others recover on their own. Antibiotics usually make you feel better within 48 hours after taking them. If you do not feel better even after this time, you should consult your doctor again. You may need a different type of antibiotic.

What are the side effects?

Just like any other drug, antibiotics also have side effects. The most common side effect, especially with Amoxicillin, is allergic reactions. Therefore, if you develop any kind of a rash, itchiness, swelling or difficulty in breathing, consult your doctor, as you may be allergic to the drug you are taking. Your doctor will change your drugs then.  Other side effects include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, unusual bleeding, and fever with chills.


Analgesics or simply painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are also prescribed during an ear infection to reduce the pain. Doctors tend to avoid aspirin in children and teenagers because of its link to a serious illness known as Reye's syndrome.

Ear drops

Ear drops are prescribed for the relief of severe ear pain.


In some cases, corticosteroids will also be prescribed to reduce the inflammation and fluid collected behind the eardrum. These drugs are not the first choice of treatment for ear infections, and therefore, are very rarely used.