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Ear Infections Center

Ear Infection Treatment

Ear Infection treatment
When you are diagnosed for ear infection, your doctor will first treat any underlying disorders. Often, viral ear infections go away on their own, but your health care provider may recommend pain relievers. Severe infections and infections in young babies may require antibiotics. A warm, moist cloth placed over the ear may also help.

Medications

Analgesics (oral)
Medicines such as antihistamines and decongestants do not help in the prevention or treatment of otitis media. However, your doctor may prescribe pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (paracetamol), in order to treat symptoms of ear infection. Pain is treated with oral analgesics; usually NSAID or acetaminophen is adequate, but sometimes a brief course of an oral opioid is necessary, particularly for severe cases of ear infection. Topical analgesics are generally not very effective, but can be used on a limited basis.

Antibiotics
Many acute middle ear infections resolve without antibiotics. Thus, many doctors use oral antibiotics only when children do not improve after a brief period of time or when there are signs that the infection is getting worse. Doctors may recommend daily antibiotics for several months for children with chronic ear infection, for example. In order to be effective, antibiotics must be taken until they are finished. A few days after the medicine starts working, you may appear to be feeling better. This does not mean the infection is gone. The medicine must still be taken. If not, the bacteria can come back. Some treatment methods for administering antibiotics include suction of debris from the ear canal and insertion of a wick to allow for delivery of antibiotic ear drops to the infected tissue.

Prevention
Immunization against viral respiratory infections or specifically against the bacteria that cause ear infections are not currently available. However, a child who is prone to ear infections should avoid contact with sick playmates and environmental tobacco smoke.

In order to maintain healthy ears, avoid digging in the ears with any objects (no matter how soft the objects are or how careful you think you are). Also, avoid ear irrigations unless instructed by your doctor, and then this procedure is only helpful when it is gentle and performed in a specific way. An oral irrigator should never be used to irrigate the ear.

Surgery
Children who get frequent infections may need surgery to place small tubes inside their ears, called a myringotomy. The tubes relieve pressure in the ears so that the child can hear again. Surgery is recommended when fluids from an ear infection stay in the ear for several months. At that stage, fluid may cause hearing loss and speech problems.

If infection persists or recurs despite the use of antibiotics, doctors may recommend ventilating (tympanostomy) tubes. If the eardrum is damaged or a cholesteatoma has formed, surgery to repair the eardrum or to remove the cholesteatoma may be performed. Another kind of surgery called an adenoidectomy removes the adenoids and has been shown to help some children with otitis media, who are between the ages of 4 and 8.

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