Ways to treat otitis media, which is also commonly known as an ear infection, typically include the use of antibiotics and pain-relieving medications. Some doctors also take the wait and see approach, meaning that the infection will be allowed to go away on its own, and if it doesn't, treatment will then be administered. People who have chronic otitis media may end up having tubes placed in their ears to help with draining of the excess fluid that causes the infection. Chronic otitis media can occasionally cause permanent hearing problems, and for this reason doctors typically perform regular hearing tests on patients who frequently suffer from the problem.
The most common method used to treat otitis media is with the use of antibiotics. This method is typically effective because the majority of ear infections are caused by bacteria. Antibiotics can usually kill whatever bacteria is lingering inside the middle ear and causing the infection. In most cases, people taking antibiotics to treat otitis media will feel relief after a few days or less. Even though results are often apparent very soon after the antibiotics are started, people are almost always advised to finish the entire course of antibiotics they were prescribed. If the antibiotics are stopped prematurely, there is a good chance that the infection wasn't completely eliminated, and it could return.
Otitis media is typically very painful for most people. The pain can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain-relieving medicines. Some doctors also recommend the use of numbing ear drops. Most pain medicines used to treat pain resulting from otitis media are effective for up to eight hours before more pain medicine is needed. Numbing ear drops may have to be administered more often because the effects from these tend to wear off more quickly than the effects of pain-relieving medicines.
More advanced methods may be necessary to treat otitis media in people who suffer from it continually. If the infections continue to recur, permanent hearing loss could become a concern. Doctors often recommend having tubes put in the ears to help prevent these frequent infections. Tubes in the ears are most often used on children and are often removed as children get older and ear infections become less frequent. The ultimate decision as to whether tubes in the ears are needed is typically made by an ear, nose, and throat specialist, and doctors frequently refer patients who suffer from chronic otitis media to these specialists for evaluation.