How Is It Treated
Most ear infections go away on their own, although antibiotics are recommended for children younger than 6 months of age and for children at high risk for complications. You can treat your child at home with an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen , a warm cloth on the ear, and rest. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. Your doctor may give you eardrops that can help your child’s pain. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
Your doctor can give your child antibiotics, but ear infections often get better without them. Talk about this with your doctor. Whether you use them will depend on how old your child is and how bad the infection is.
Minor surgery to put tubes in the ears may help if your child has hearing problems or repeat infections.
Sometimes after an infection, a child cannot hear well for a while. Call your doctor if this lasts for 3 to 4 months. Children need to be able to hear in order to learn how to talk.
How Are Dog Ear Infections Treated
Your veterinarian will thoroughly clean your dogs ears using a medicated ear cleanser. Your vet may also prescribe an ear cleanser and a topical medication for you to use at home. In severe cases, your vet may prescribe oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.
Most uncomplicated ear infections resolve within 12 weeks, once appropriate treatment begins. But severe infections or those due to underlying conditions may take months to resolve, or may become chronic problems. In cases of severe chronic disease where other treatments have failed, your veterinarian may recommend surgery such as a Total Ear Canal Ablation . A TECA surgery removes the ear canal, thus removing the diseased tissue and preventing the recurrence of infection.
It is important to follow your veterinarians instructions closely and return to the veterinary hospital for any recommended recheck appointments. Lapses in your dogs treatment may lead to the recurrence of the infection. It is especially important that you finish the full course of your dogs medication, even if your dog appears to be getting better. Failure to finish the full course of treatment may lead to additional problems such as resistant infections.
Middle Ear Fluid Buildup
Most children who have ear infections still have some fluid behind the eardrum a few weeks after the infection is gone. For some children, the fluid clears in about a month. And a few children still have fluid buildup several months after an ear infection clears. This fluid buildup in the ear is called otitis media with effusion. Hearing problems can result, because the fluid affects how the middle ear works. Usually, infection does not occur.
Otitis media with fluid buildup may occur even if a child has not had an obvious ear infection or upper respiratory infection. In these cases, something else has caused eustachian tube blockage.
In rare cases, complications can arise from middle ear infection or fluid buildup. Examples include hearing loss and ruptured eardrum.
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Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your childs illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
Treatment for an Ear Infection
Home Care To Relieve Ear Pain
If you have ear pain, itâs a good idea to talk with your doctor about it.
Thereâs little research to say whether or not home care works, but most doctors agree these treatments are safe to try yourself:
A cool or warm compress. Soak a washcloth in either cool or warm water, wring it out, and then put it over the ear that’s bothering you. Try both temperatures to see if one helps you more than the other.
A heating pad: Lay your painful ear on a warm, not hot, heating pad.
Over-the-counter ear drops with pain relievers. If they help at all, itâs only briefly. You shouldnât use these drops if your eardrum has a tear or hole, so check with your doctor first.
Chew gum. If youâre on an airplane or driving at high altitudes and your ear pain is from the change in air pressure, chew some gum. It can help lower that pressure and ease your symptoms.
Sleep upright. While it may sound strange, resting or sleeping sitting up rather than lying down can encourage fluid in your ear to drain. This could ease pressure and pain in your middle ear. Prop yourself up in bed with a stack of pillows, or sleep in an armchair thatâs a bit reclined.
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When To See The Doctor
Ear infections often clear up on their own, without antibiotics, but if youre in a lot of pain or its been a few days, call your doctor. Chronic ear infections can be a problem for some people with a perforated eardrum or a long history of ear disease since childhood. Talk to your doctor about your options in this case.
If fluid continues to build up in the middle ear space, we now consider Eustachian tube dilation, Oghalai says. A balloon is used to dilate the Eustachian tube, to improve aeration and fluid drainage. If this is done, an ear tube is not needed, lowering the risk for long-term side effects that can be associated with this treatment.
If you think you may have an ear infection, make an appointment with one of our otolaryngology specialists at Keck Medicine. If you are in the Los Angeles area, schedule an appointment, by calling USC-CARE or by visiting keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.
Home Remedies For Ear Infections In Dogs Without Prescriptions
This commonly known technique is controversial. Some veterinarians see this over-the-counter product as a good ear cleaning agent. Others see its use as risky. Read on to understand why.
I remember as a child my father used this technique to clean MY ears!
Its suggested to use one part of peroxide mixed with one part of water to kill the bacteria present in the ear, by using a cotton wool soaked with the mixture to clean it.
That said, peroxide also attacks good bacteria in the ear, so use this in moderation. Also, in the case of a yeast infection, this product could cause more inflammation. Due to its chemical action, the peroxide leaves the ear wet, which technically predisposes it to further infections.
While some recognize its effectiveness, the supervision of an animal health professional when using this technique is always recommended.
Using this remedy will require you to unleash your talents as a chef!
You can follow this recipe from Wellpet:
- Mix 2 tablespoons of coconut oil with garlic over low heat to create a marvelous antibacterial concoction!
- You can use this cooled mixture to clean your dog’s ears, again with cotton wool or gauze.
In any case, ear infections in dogs should be taken seriously even if they are very common.
If your dog shows signs such as shaking his head, scratching his ears or they are smelly, use our natural remedy or the other treatments suggested to relieve him of his ear infection symptoms.
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Treatment For A Middle Ear Infection
The doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to help you fight a middle ear infection. Depending on the type of antibiotics you receive, you can take them orally, or you can apply them directly on the site of the infection using ear drops. The doctor might also recommend pain medications, such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers, to help you manage the symptoms. They might also suggest nasal steroids, a decongestant, or an antihistamine to people suffering from a cold or allergy symptoms.
Additionally, a health professional can teach you autoinsufflation, a simple technique to help you clear your eustachian tubes. To perform an autoinsufflation, squeeze your nose, close your mouth, and exhale very gently. This sends air through the eustachian tubes, helping to drain them.
When Should You Call Your Doctor
- Your child has sudden hearing loss, severe pain, or dizziness.
- Your child seems to be very sick with symptoms such as a high fever and stiff neck.
- You notice redness, swelling, or pain behind or around your child’s ear, especially if your child doesn’t move the muscles on that side of his or her face.
- You can’t quiet your child who has a severe earache by using home treatment over several hours.
- Your baby pulls or rubs his or her ear and appears to be in pain .
- Your child’s ear pain increases even with treatment.
- Your child has a fever of 38.3Â°C or higher with other signs of ear infection.
- You suspect that your child’s eardrum has burst, or fluid that looks like pus or blood is draining from the ear.
- Your child has an object stuck in his or her ear.
- Your child with an ear infection continues to have symptoms after 48 hours of treatment with an antibiotic.
- Your child with an ear tube develops an earache or has drainage from his or her ear.
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What Causes Ear Infections
It depends. An ear infection can be caused by bacteria or a virus. If you have a bacterial ear infection, its likely caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenzae, the CDC says. If your ear infection is viral, it can be caused by the viruses that cause the common cold or flu. Meaning, you could develop an ear infection along with your cold or flu symptoms.
Theres also some research to suggest that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can infect the ear as well, but its not well studied at the moment.
Keep in mind that it can be tough to figure out upfront what kind of ear infection you have. We often do not know if an infection is due to a bacteria or virus unless specific cultures are taken, says Elliott Kozin, M.D., an otolaryngologist at Mass Eye and Ear.
Adenoids And/or Tonsil Removal
Adenoid removal or adenoid and tonsil removal may help some children who have repeat ear infections or fluid behind the eardrum. Children younger than 4 don’t usually have their adenoids taken out unless they have severe nasal blockage.
As a treatment for chronic ear infections, experts recommend removing adenoids and tonsils only after tubes and antibiotics have failed. Removing adenoids may improve air and fluid flow in nasal passages. This may reduce the chance of fluid collecting in the middle ear, which can lead to infection. When used along with other treatments, removing adenoids can help some children who have repeat ear infections. But taking out the tonsils with the adenoids isn’t very helpful.footnote 4 Tonsils are removed if they are frequently infected. Experts don’t recommend tonsil removal alone as a treatment for ear infections.footnote 5
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Diagnosing An Ear Infection
To find out whether you have an ear infection, your doctor will use an otoscope to look for signs of infection inside your ear Such signs include:
- Bulging eardrum due to fluid and pus behind the eardrum the fluid buildup is called effusion.
- An eardrum responding less flexibly than normal this is checked using a pneumatic otoscope.
- Cloudiness of the eardrum Usually the eardrum looks like a clear shower curtain, says Rosenfeld.
- Some loss of hearing but Rosenfeld says hearing tests are not helpful for diagnosing ear infection.
Ear Infection Home Treatments And Remedies
Ear infections can occur in the outer ear , middle ear , and inner ear . Natural and home remedies to treat pain include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen
- Applying a warm compress on the infected ear.
- Applying naturopathic ear drops with ginger, tea tree, or olive oil may help with pain and inflammation.
Talk with your doctor or pediatrician before using any herbal or naturopathic medicine for ear infections.
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Its Not Just Kids Who Get Ear Infections Adults Can Have Them Too Heres How To Reduce Your Risk
If you feel pain or fullness in your ear, notice fluid leaking out or are having trouble hearing, you might have an ear infection. Although more common in children, adults can get them, as well especially in the winter, when colds and flu lead to secondary infections.
Ear infections occur when your middle ear gets clogged and air cant get through, creating a moist breeding ground for bacteria.
Simple acute ear infections can occur if the Eustachian tube, which connects the nose to the middle ear space, gets blocked and fluid builds up, says John S. Oghalai, MD, an otolaryngologist at Keck Medicine of USC, and chair and professor of otolaryngology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Children are more likely to get ear infections, because their Eustachian tubes are shorter and more horizontal, so they dont drain as well.
What Causes A Middle Ear Infection
A small tube connects your ear to your throat. These two tubes are called eustachian tubes . A cold can cause this tube to swell. When the tube swells enough to become blocked, it can trap fluid inside your ear. This makes it a perfect place for germs to grow and cause an infection.
Ear infections happen mostly to young children, because their tubes are smaller and get blocked more easily.
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What Are The Symptoms Of An Ear Infection
There are three main types of ear infections. Each has a different combination of symptoms.
- Acute otitis media is the most common ear infection. Parts of the middle ear are infected and swollen and fluid is trapped behind the eardrum. This causes pain in the earcommonly called an earache. Your child might also have a fever.
- Otitis media with effusion sometimes happens after an ear infection has run its course and fluid stays trapped behind the eardrum. A child with OME may have no symptoms, but a doctor will be able to see the fluid behind the eardrum with a special instrument.
- Chronic otitis media with effusion happens when fluid remains in the middle ear for a long time or returns over and over again, even though there is no infection. COME makes it harder for children to fight new infections and also can affect their hearing.
Seeking Professional Treatment For Ear Infection
Unfortunately, most ear infections dont heal on their own. If youre suffering from a fever, severe pain, or if your symptoms have lasted for more than 24 hours, you should seek professional treatment before the infection gets worse. A local urgent care center or walk-in clinic is a great place to receive same-day treatment with no appointment.
Youll be diagnosed through a physical evaluation and a description of your symptoms. If the infection if not going away on its own, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. You can continue taking over the counter pain relievers until the antibiotics offer some relief. Remember, even if you feel better before the prescription is finished, dont stop taking them! This common mistake gives an infection the perfect opportunity to flare up again.
Get familiar with the urgent care centers and walk-in clinics in your area. Most have flexible hours with no appointment necessary, so theres no reason to delay treatment for your ear infection any longer!
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How Can I Tell If My Child Has An Ear Infection
Most ear infections happen to children before theyve learned how to talk. If your child isnt old enough to say My ear hurts, here are a few things to look for:
- Tugging or pulling at the ear
- Fussiness and crying
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Clumsiness or problems with balance
- Trouble hearing or responding to quiet sounds
Where Can I Find Additional Information About Ear Infections
The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that provide information on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language.
Use the following keywords to help you search for organizations that can answer questions and provide printed or electronic information on ear infections:
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When Do Children Need Tubes In Their Ears
If your child has frequent ear infections, or if he has trouble hearing because of ongoing fluid in the middle ear, he may need a tube inserted through the ear drum and into the middle ear. The tube helps to keep air pressure normal on both sides of the ear drum and helps fluid drain from the middle ear.
Putting tubes in requires a brief operation by an ear, nose and throat surgeon. Children usually go home the same day.