- The aim of treating ear infections is to treat the ear infection before complications such as deafness arise.
- Most ear infections resolve on their own.
- Ear infections are commonly caused by viruses.
The aim of treating ear infections is to treat the ear infection before complications such as deafness arise. Treatment involves reducing the inflammation and gets rid of the organisms causing the ear infection.
Most ear infections resolve on their own, but the best treatment will vary from person to person depending on the severity of the symptoms and age.
Ear infections are commonly caused by viruses, and these infections tend to settle down within 1 to 2 weeks without any medication. In these cases, doctors only treat the symptoms. If it is a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed.
Managing the pain
To reduce the pain, you can use over-the-counter painkillers or even use some home remedies to alleviate the pain.
- Painkillers – Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be taken to reduce the pain. Take the drugs as mentioned on the label, and if you have any problems, speak with your doctor before use. Try to avoid giving aspirin to children, especially those recovering from chickenpox and flu-like symptoms because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome. Reye’s syndrome is a severe condition that results in the swelling of the liver and brain. It is especially seen in children and teenagers.
- Use a heating pad – Using a heating pad over the affected ear can help reduce the pain.
If the ear infection does not seem to settle, and if there is a co-existing high-grade fever, then your doctor may consider the use of antibiotics. Amoxicillin is the drug of choice for treating ear infections. A course of amoxicillin treatment can get rid of the ear infection within 7 to 10 days.
Make sure you take all the antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop or skip taking the drugs as soon as your symptoms disappear. Keep in mind to complete the full course of antibiotics. If you fail to do so, you will have recurring ear infections, which will be more difficult to treat with antibiotics if the organisms have developed resistance.
Tympanostomy tubes or ear tubes
For those who get recurrent middle ear infections or repeated fluid collection within the middle ear, inserting an ear tube is the best choice. This procedure is known as a myringotomy, which is very safe and commonly practiced as an outpatient surgical procedure. A small incision is made in the
A small incision is made in the eardrum and a tympanostomy or ear tube is inserted through this hole. This tube allows fluid in the middle ear infection to drain out and also allows air to enter the middle ear. After a few days, the ear tube falls off on its own, and the incision made on the eardrum will heal with time. The tympanostomy tube prevents the accumulation of the fluid within the middle, and so does it prevent recurrent ear infections.
If ear infections reoccur after the ear tubes come out, then your doctor may suggest that you insert another tube again.