Whats The Best Antibiotic For An Ear Infection
Because each person and each ear infection is unique, there is no simple answer to this question. One of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for ear infections is amoxicillin. However, some types of bacteria are becoming resistant to it because of its frequent, and usually unnecessary, use.
Ciprofloxacin is another commonly used antibiotic for fighting bacterial ear infections. The important thing is to follow the directions for whichever antibiotic your medical provider prescribes and to complete the entire treatment. Not completing the entire treatment increases the risk for recurrent infections and evolving bacteria that becomes resistant to antibiotics.
A couple days after starting the antibiotic, you may feel like the infection is gone. However, not completing the medication can allow the infection to return and for the bacteria to grow resistant to that antibiotic.
When To See A Medical Provider
If you notice persistent ear infection symptoms that dont resolve on their own, call a healthcare professional.
This is particularly important for adults, as a middle ear infection can be a sign of a more serious problem in this age group compared to children.
And if you experience chronic ear infections, talk to your primary care provider, an otolaryngologist , or an otologist to discuss treatment options.
Treating Outer Ear Infections
Outer ear infections are sometimes called swimmer’s ear, or otitis externa. This is an infection of the ear canal, the portion of the ear that leads from the outside and stops at the eardrum. The opening of this part of the ear is external and visible.
Outer ear infections are called swimmer’s ear because they can sometimes be caused by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
This is not the only way to get an outer ear infection, however. Bacteria, viruses, or fungi can be introduced to the outer ear in many ways, especially through broken skin, and usually result in an infection when a moist environment aids their growth.
Symptoms of an outer ear infection can include:
- Pain in the ear
- Redness and irritation inside the ear canal
- Itchy ear canal
- Flaky or peeling skin
More severe infections can lead to swelling of the ear canal, which may lead to muffled hearing, a fever, or ear drainage that looks like there is pus in it.
An outer ear infection can be diagnosed through an examination of the ear canal with an otoscope .
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Anatomy Of An Ear Infection
The ear is divided into the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. Infection can occur in any of these areas, but bacterial infections of the inner ear are extremely rare.
Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can cause infections in the ear. Infections can be brought on by an illness, such as a cold or allergies.
Ear infections generally occur when bacteria, viruses, or fungi gain entry into one of the three areas of the ear and cause infection.
Check If It’s An Ear Infection
The symptoms of an ear infection usually start quickly and include:
- discharge running out of the ear
- a feeling of pressure or fullness inside the ear
- itching and irritation in and around the ear
- scaly skin in and around the ear
Young children and babies with an ear infection may also:
- rub or pull their ear
- not react to some sounds
- be irritable or restless
- be off their food
- keep losing their balance
Most ear infections clear up within 3 days, although sometimes symptoms can last up to a week.
If you, or your child, have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you feel better.Differences between middle and outer ear infections
|Inner ear infection
|Middle ear infection
|Outer ear infection
|Can affect both children and adults
|Usually affects children
|Usually affects adults aged 45 to 75
|Caused by viral or bacterial infections
|Caused by viruses like colds and flu
|Caused by something irritating the ear canal, such as eczema, water or wearing earplugs
|Affects parts of the inner ear like the labyrinth and vestibular system, and can lead to labyrinthitis
|Affects the eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the nose
|Affects the ear canal
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Why Are Children More Likely Than Adults To Get Ear Infections
There are several reasons why children are more likely than adults to get ear infections.
Eustachian tubes are smaller and more level in children than they are in adults. This makes it difficult for fluid to drain out of the ear, even under normal conditions. If the eustachian tubes are swollen or blocked with mucus due to a cold or other respiratory illness, fluid may not be able to drain.
A childs immune system isnt as effective as an adults because its still developing. This makes it harder for children to fight infections.
As part of the immune system, the adenoids respond to bacteria passing through the nose and mouth. Sometimes bacteria get trapped in the adenoids, causing a chronic infection that can then pass on to the eustachian tubes and the middle ear.
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What Is An Ear Infection
There are different types of ear infections. Middle ear infection is an infection in the middle ear.
Another condition that affects the middle ear is called otitis media with effusion. This condition occurs when fluid builds up in the middle ear without causing an infection. Otitis media with effusion does not cause fever, ear pain, or pus build-up in the middle ear.
Swimmers ear is an infection in the outer ear canal. Swimmers Ear is different from a middle ear infection. For more information, visit Swimmers Ear .
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How To Use Ear Drops
Prior to using ear drops, you should always read the instructions provided to you with your prescription. You can also speak to your pharmacist or doctor for advice on using them. The following instructions will help you use ear drops correctly.
- Lie down on a flat surface with a folded towel beneath your head and the affected ear facing the ceiling.
- Pull your earlobe up to straighten out the ear canal.
- Administer the appropriate number of drops into the ear.
- Push the ear flap gently to help ease the drops into the ear.
- Remain in this position for up to two minutes to ensure that the ear canal is fully coated with medicine.
- Have the child lie on the floor or bed with a towel beneath their head and their affected ear facing the ceiling.
- Hold their head still if they are squirming or fidgeting.
- Pull the earlobe out and down to straighten their ear canal..
- Administer the recommended number of drops
- Press on their ear flap or place a cotton ball gently into the ear and let it remain in position for several minutes to ensure that the medication coats the inside of their ear.
The process for infants is similar to children, but you can also cradle your infant while you administer the drops in an appropriate position that allows the medication to go into their ear properly.
Ear Infections In Older Adults
While ear infections are more common in children, older adults can also get them.
Swimmerâs ear is most common in people ages 45 to 75. A potentially life threatening ear infection, malignant otitis externa , mostly occurs in older people with diabetes or weakened immune systems.
The aging process may affect the structure of the ears, making older adults more susceptible to ear diseases.
A of 138 people ages 60 and over found that 9.4% had a middle ear infection.
Older adults who have ear infections may experience symptoms such as the following:
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Which Common Infections Require Antibiotics
Patients often ask doctors for antibiotics, not knowing whether antibiotics actually treat those conditions. And doctors tend to over-prescribe antibiotics for conditions that dont always require them. Below, well talk about some common infections and what you should know about treating them.
Colds and flu
Colds and the flu are caused by viruses, so antibiotics wont help. Instead, youll want to focus on managing your symptoms. If you have the flu, your doctor may recommend an antiviral medication like .
If your cold or flu lasts for 2 weeks or more, you may be more likely to develop a bacterial sinus infection or pneumonia. In these cases, its important to visit the doctor to talk about your symptoms. If they prescribe antibiotics, its because youve developed a bacterial infection on top of your cold or flu.
Sinus infections occur when fluid builds up in the air-filled pockets in your face , allowing germs to grow. Symptoms include pain or pressure in your face, a runny or stuffy nose, headache, and mucus dripping down the back of your throat.
Urinary tract infections
Common antibiotics doctors prescribe for UTIs are , , and .
Sore throat, strep throat, and tonsillitis
Inflammation of your throat or tonsils can cause soreness and pain, and you may or may not need antibiotics to treat it. If your sore throat is caused by a virus , you wont need antibiotics. But when its due to bacteria, as in strep throat and bacterial tonsillitis, you will.
Ear Infection Signs And Symptoms
The telltale sign of an ear infection is pain in and around the ear. Young children can develop ear infections before they are old enough to talk. That means parents are often left guessing why their child appears to be suffering. When your child can’t say “my ear hurts,” the following signs suggest an ear infection could be the culprit:
- Tugging or pulling the ear
- Crying and irritability
- Fever, especially in younger children
- Fluid draining from the ear
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty hearing or responding to auditory cues
Signs that require immediate attention include high fever, severe pain, or bloody or pus-like discharge from the ears.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Middle
Common symptoms of a middle-ear infection in adults are:
Pain in 1 or both ears
Drainage from the ear
You may also have a fever. Rarely, your balance can be affected.
These symptoms may be the same as for other conditions. Its important totalk with your health care provider if you think you have a middle-earinfection. If you have a high fever, severe pain behind your ear, orparalysis in your face, see your provider as soon as you can.
Oral Antibiotics Have Risks
- Oral antibiotics are more likely to cause resistant bacteria outside the ear. When that happens, these medicines will not work as well in the future. Illnesses will be harder to cure and more costly to treat.
- Antibiotic eardrops kill the bacteria faster and more completely than oral antibiotics. Drops dont go into the bloodstream, so more medicine reaches the infection.
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Diagnosis Of Ear Infections
Your physician will look into your ear with an otoscope, a medical instrument with a light on one end designed to get a better view inside the ear. Your doctor will look for the visual signs of ear infection, such as redness and inflammation.
To check for fluid buildup, a pneumatic otoscope, which blows air at the eardrum, will be used. If there is excessive fluid behind the eardrum, it will not move as it should when the air hits it.
In some cases, hearing tests may also be performed to assess any damage to the ear from the infection.
Different types of ear infections present with different symptoms, which can include:
- Inner ear infections: Hearing loss, ringing in the ears , dizziness, loss of balance, nausea and vomiting, and ear pain
- Middle ear infections: Fluid in the ear, ear pain, fever, a feeling of general illness, pressure in the ears, and hearing loss
- Outer ear infections: Inflammation of the ear canal, itching in the ear, ear pain, swelling of the ear canal, redness, and fluid draining from the ear
Ear Infection Doctor Discussion Guide
Children with ear infections, especially toddlers or infants, may not be able to describe their symptoms, but an ear infection will often present with the following signs:
- Tugging or pulling at their ears
- Fussing or crying
- Being clumsy and having balance issues
- Trouble hearing or responding to quiet noises
Which Ear Drops Help In The Treatment Of Outer Ear Infections
Some prescription-only ear drops can effectively relieve earache caused by an outer ear infection . There is no that over-the-counter disinfectant ear drops are as effective.
Outer ear infections are among the most common causes of earaches. They are usually caused by . If the infection only lasts a few days or weeks, it is called acute otitis externa. Painkillers and disinfectant ear drops are some of the more common treatments that are available in pharmacies without a prescription. But prescription-only ear drops for instance, containing or steroids are often used too.
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When Should I Return To My Healthcare Provider For A Follow
Your healthcare provider will let you know when you need to return for a follow-up visit. At that visit, you or your childs eardrum will be examined to be certain that the infection is going away. Your healthcare provider may also want to test you or your childs hearing.
Follow-up exams are very important, especially if the infection has caused a hole in the eardrum.
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Causes & Risk Factors
Any health situation that blocks off the vital drainage channels of your sinuses can cause a sinus infection including:
- Respiratory infections like the common cold
- Hay fever or exposure to allergens such as cigarette smoke, dry air and pollutants
- Obstructions in the nasal or sinus cavities including nasal polyps, deviated septum, or nasal bone spur
- Non-allergic rhinitis
- Infections resulting from dental problems
- Physical injury to the sinuses
- Bacteria, viruses, and fungi
The five most common bacteria that can cause sinus infections are: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes.
Risk factors for sinus infections include:
- Being in the hospital, especially if the reason you are in the hospital is related to a head injury or you needed a tube inserted into your nose
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Should I Use Antibiotics For An Ear Infection
Antibiotics are a medicine prescribed by your doctor. If youre dealing with an ear infection caused by bacteria, youll likely need antibiotics. They are the best way of quickly getting rid of a bacterial infection and preventing it from spreading to other parts of the body.
The catch is that antibiotics dont work against viruses if you use antibiotics on a viral ear infection, it can actually make the infection worse. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to a condition called antibiotic resistance, which means that the medicine becomes less effective at fighting off bacteria.
Thats why doctors are careful about using antibiotics wisely and may not immediately prescribe them for ear infections.
Why To Avoid Antibiotics When Theyre Not Needed
Antibiotics often are not needed to treat an ear infection.
- Most ear infections will clear up on their own. This is true whether they are caused by bacteria or a virus.
- Antibiotics kill only bacteria. They wont help with an infection caused by a virus.
- Antibiotics wont help much with pain.
There are good reasons not to give antibiotics if they are not needed.
- Overuse of antibiotics can be harmful. If antibiotics are taken when they arent needed, they may not work later when theyre really needed. This is because bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics.
- Antibiotics can cause side effects, such as stomach cramps, nausea, rash, and diarrhea. They can also lead to vaginal yeast infections.
How Do You Prevent Ear Infections
You may be able to prevent ear some ear infections if you:
- Use earplugs when swimming or diving
- Dry ears thoroughly after swimming
- Never use cotton swabs inside the ear canal
- Wash hands properly to prevent the spread of viruses
- Use soap and warm water and wash for at least 20 seconds
Surgery And Other Procedures
Drainage tubes . If your child has recurring ear infections that do not respond to antibiotics, or if the fluid in the ear affects his hearing, your doctor may suggest putting in drainage tubes. During this surgery, which requires general anesthesia, the surgeon inserts a small drainage tube through the eardrum. Fluid behind the eardrum can drain out, equalizing the pressure between the middle and outer ear, which should improve your childs hearing. The tubes usually come out on their own as your child grows and the drainage holes heal.
If ear infections persist after age 4, your doctor may suggest having your childs adenoids removed.
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How Do I Choose The Best Earache Medicine
You can choose the best earache medicine by first seeing your doctor to determine the cause of your earache. The type of medicine you use for treatment will likely depend on the reason behind your ear pain. If your earache is the result of an ear infection, your doctor will probably recommend treatment with popular over-the-counter pain relievers and might additionally prescribe antibiotics to help get rid of the infection. Swimmers ear is also frequently treated with over-the-counter pain relievers and antibiotics. There are also some home remedies you can use in place of, or in addition to, earache medicine to help you get some relief from your ear pain.
Some of the best earache medicine you can use is in the form of over-the-counter pain relievers containing either ibuprofen or acetaminophen. These medicines come in both liquid and pill form, and they are usually effective for eliminating ear pain temporarily. In general, ibuprofen is slightly stronger than acetaminophen, and you may have more luck with ibuprofen for dealing with incredibly severe ear pain. Acetaminophen is typically useful for treating minor ear pain, and it can usually be taken more often throughout the day than ibuprofen, although you should always follow the specific directions on dosage for the medicine you are using.
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