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What are the Different Kinds of Ear Infection Treatment?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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The most common types of ear infection treatment are antibiotics and pain relieving medications such as medicated ear drops and acetaminophen. Sometimes ear tubes may have to be inserted for frequent or ongoing infections in order to drain fluid away from the eardrum. Occasionally, adenoids or the tonsils may have to the removed for the same reason. Additional methods may be used to reduce pain, such as applying a hot pad or towel to the ear and getting plenty of rest.

Ear infections are caused by bacteria in the inner or middle ear that grows out of control. Most cases of infection are mild and the majority of ear infections heal on their own with no specific treatment required. When treatment is needed or is given as a precautionary measure, oral antibiotics are the most common type of ear infection treatment. They help to kill any excess bacterial growth, and generally alleviate infection within days.

The use of pain relievers is also a common ear infection treatment, and may come in the form of oral pills or drops which are inserted directly into the ear. Both are considered effective at easing pain associated with infection, although drops should not be used unless authorized by a doctor. Parents should also consult a doctor before using any type of pain reliever for children under the age of two.

Applying heat to the area is another ear infection treatment, as well as applying pressure to that side of the head and resting to allow the body to fight off the invading bacteria. All of these act to speed recovery and make the patient more comfortable in the meantime, although they do not actually destroy the infection itself. They are also generally considered safe for children of any age, as well as the elderly and those sick with other illnesses.

In some very severe cases, ear infection may cause nausea, dizziness, or vomiting as well as high fever. If these occur, additional treatment may be necessary to reduce the risk of dehydration caused by lost fluids. This can include drinking more water or an electrolyte enhanced beverage sold for this purpose. Recurrent ear infections are sometimes cause by fluid buildup around the eardrum and may require the insertion of tubes in the ear to drain this fluid away. In rare cases, the adenoids or tonsils may have to be removed for the same reasons.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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