Ear Home > Ear Infection Treatment

In many cases, treating an ear infection involves antibiotics. When fluid remains in the ear for more than three months and affects hearing, the healthcare provider may recommend a myringotomy, which involves the placement of "tubes" that ventilate the middle ear. If a child has multiple ear infections, surgery may be recommended. Removal of the adenoids has been shown to reduce the symptoms of an ear infection in some children, but not those under the age of four.

Ear Infection Treatment: An Introduction

As parents and doctors can attest, getting rid of an ear infection can be tricky. Ear infection treatment, in most cases, involves the use of antibiotic medicine. If a child has multiple ear infections, surgery may be the recommended ear infection treatment.

Medications for Treating an Ear Infection

Many physicians recommend the use of an antibiotic (a drug that kills bacteria) when there is an active middle ear infection. If a patient is experiencing pain, the physician may also recommend a pain reliever. Following the physician's instructions is very important. Once started, the antibiotic should be taken until it is finished. Most physicians will have the patient return for a follow-up examination to see if the infection has cleared.
Unfortunately, there are many bacteria that can cause an ear infection, and some have become resistant to some antibiotics. This happens when antibiotics are given for coughs, colds, flu, or viral infections where antibiotic treatment is not useful. When bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, those treatments are then less effective against infections. This means that several different antibiotics may have to be tried before an ear infection clears. Antibiotics may also produce unwanted side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and rashes.
Once the infection clears, fluid may remain in the middle ear for several months. Middle ear fluid that is not infected often disappears after three to six weeks. Neither antihistamines nor decongestants are recommended as helpful in the treatment of otitis media at any stage in the disease process.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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