Common Ear Infection Treatments

November 12, 2012

Common Ear Infection Treatments

Ear infection treatment involves, in most cases, the doctor eradicating a middle ear infection before it becomes more serious. Bacteria have to be removed, immune system has to be boosted and inflammation in the Eustachian tubes reduced. A virus is very common in causing ear infections and the only treatment which can be offered is treating the symptoms. A person with an upper respiratory infection may produce congestion and swelling of membranes which includes the Eustachian tube. Decongestant and antihistamine medication may help but if it is an ear infection with no congestion or drainage problems, do not use these medicines due to the associated side effects of blurred vision and drowsiness.

An earache with a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and fever is more than likely to be associated with an ear infection. The eardrum will be examined by the doctor using an otoscope to check for infection. To see if there are signs of a block or filling in the middle ear, the doctor will use a pneumatic otoscope. This blows air at the eardrum and should make the eardrum move back and forward. The eardrum will not move without difficulty if fluid is present. Tympanometry is another test for ear infections, it checks for fluid in the middle ear. An audiologist can carry out a hearing test to see if there is a loss of hearing should this be required.

A more extreme test which is normally used for severe or stubborn ear infections or if a person is ill, is for the doctor to breach the eardrum. A sample of this fluid is then removed through the hole from the middle ear to culture in a laboratory.

It is difficult for the doctor to determine when an ear infection is viral or bacterial. The doctor may suggest taking pain relief, perhaps ibuprofen or acetaminophen which helps to reduce a fever. Do not give children aspirin due to the possibility of Reye’s syndrome.

Ear infection treatment at home can include using a warm compress on the ear and steam inhalations can help. When bottle feeding a baby ensure they are held in an upright position. Older children and adults can gargle with salt water which soothes a sore throat and clears the Eustachian tubes. Keeping the head held erect can aid in draining the middle ear. Do not smoke inside the house or near a child. Antihistamines are fine to take when there is congestion but do not take when there is no congestion. Sipping water often also helps.

The effective use of antibiotics as an ear infection treatment of bacteria in the middle ear is debatable because in the 1990s bacteria became more resistant to antibiotics. It’s now common for some doctors to treat the symptoms of the ear infection and not prescribe antibiotics and this treatment stems from studies carried out on young children over two years of age. However many doctors, especially in the U.S., are concerned that without taking antibiotics, bacterial ear infections can spiral out of control which can lead to serious issues, e.g. mastoiditis or loss of hearing. Mastoiditis and loss of hearing due to bacterial ear infections have become less common mainly because of the use of antibiotics. Doctors in the U.S. tend to treat ear infection as if it is a bacterial infection.

Amoxicillin is a very effective ear infection treatment of bacterial ear infections and can destroy the virus in seven to ten days. Certain types of bacteria have become resistant to amoxicillin and doctors are prescribing other antibiotics for infections of the ear.

Should fluid stay in the ear for three months or longer, problems arise, a myringotomy is carried out which involves inserting a tube to eradicate the infection or drain the middle ear. This procedure helps to lessen pain and hearing is improved and reduces ear infections in the future. Surgery to remove the adenoids, an adenoidectomy, is another alternative. A tonsillectomy is not proposed as a solution to recurring ear infections or ear infection treatment.

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