Medical Treatment For Ear Infections (Otitis Media, Ear Ache)
“An ear infection can be extremely painful. If left untreated, otitis media can lead to permanent hearing loss. If you have a severe ear ache, particularly if you have been sick with a cold or other viral infection, make an appointment to come in and see us right away”.
What is otitis media?
Otitis media is the medical term for infection of the middle ear. This condition is far more common in children than in adults but can cause considerable pain regardless of age.
What causes otitis media?
Acute otitis media often occurs after a cold or other illness and can be caused by a virus or bacteria. It is more common during the winter months when colds are more prevalent.
What are the symptoms of otitis media?
If you have otitis media, you may notice:
- ear pain (may be severe)
- hearing loss in the affected ear
- nasal congestion or sore throat if otitis media is preceded by a cold
- bloody discharge from the ear if the tympanic membrane (eardrum) ruptures (pain may disappear if this happens)
What can I expect when I come in for my appointment?
If you have otitis media, you may need to be seen urgently. The pain can be quite severe and overwhelming. We’ll ask you about your symptoms- when they started, whether they were preceded by a cold and whether you have had a fever. We’ll look in your nose and throat for signs of infection/inflammation. We may also listen your chest if you have had a cough. We’ll use an otoscope (an instrument with a light attached) to examine your ear, looking for fluid, redness, pus and bulging of the tympanic membrane. If you have otitis media, we’ll need to know if you have any allergies to any medications, especially antibiotics.
What is the treatment for otitis media?
If you have otitis media, you will (quite understandably) be concerned about the pain and how long it will last. Although acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) may help with the pain and fever, you may need something stronger for the first couple of days. We will also prescribe an antibiotic if we suspect a bacterial cause. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, it is important that you take it exactly as prescribed; otherwise, the infection may return and be more difficult to treat. Always complete the entire course of antibiotics! Sometimes an antihistamine or decongestant medication can be helpful in reducing congestion and may improve the sensation of pressure and fullness in the ear that some people feel when they have an ear infection. If you are still experiencing symptoms (including hearing loss) after you have completed antibiotics, you should come back to see us for follow-up.
If you are experiencing ear pain, make an appointment immediately- in most cases we can see you right away, so make your appointment now.