Ear infections can be quite uncomfortable, often occurring alongside upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold. While more prevalent in children, they can impact both adults and kids.
However, ear infection medications, especially antibiotics, can treat this nagging pressure and feeling of fullness or ear discharge. In some cases, pain relievers are required, and these ear infections may resolve on their own. However, antibiotics are needed in other cases of ear infections.
Should I use antibiotics for an ear infection?
Yes, Antibiotics are considered one of the best options for treating ear infections. Your body’s immune system is capable of fighting most middle ear infections as well. However, ear infection meds are required for severe symptoms beyond 2–3 days or are severe.
There are usually two options for mild middle ear infections:
This is a 2-3 days to see if your child’s condition improves or if they require antibiotics. If your child’s symptoms don’t improve, the doctor may prescribe Amoxicillin for ear infections.
Your child’s physician may prescribe medicine for an ear infection but advises you to wait 2–3 days before getting an antibiotic prescription. Your child may recover independently and not need the antibiotics for earache.
Keep in mind that antibiotics can be taken without the diagnosis and prescription. It’s important to get consultation and prescription for the effective diagnosis per your needs and the well-suited prescription of antibiotics.
What are the treatments for ear infections?
Antibiotics and some other medications are prescribed for the treatment of ear infections. The following are all the options that can be considered to treat ear infections effectively.
- Pain relievers
Pain relievers don’t treat the ear infection but can help ease the associated discomfort. Some options for Oral OTC pain relievers include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), which can help relieve pain and fever that result from the infection. You can alternate between taking these both.
- Anesthetic drops
Apart from oral painkillers, anesthetic topical formulations are available. These are an option to relieve pain if the eardrum has no hole or hasn’t been ruptured.
Many antibiotics help treat ear infections in kids. However, those with milder symptoms may not need antibiotics, and there is a possibility that the infection will resolve on its own. The following situations warrant a need for antibiotic prescription:
- If your baby is younger than six months old.
- If the child is younger than two years old, both ears are affected.
- The child is at least six months old with moderate to severe symptoms that last more than two days.
- The child is at least six months old with a fever or temperature of 102.2°F.
- A reexamination after two days shows no signs of improvement.
Penicillin for ear infections, namely Amoxicillin, is a first-line antibiotic for treating middle ear infections in kids. These are available as tablets, capsules, and oral suspensions. Amoxicillin dosage for kids is calculated according to their body weight and taken twice daily for ten days. However, there is a noticeable improvement in symptoms within about three days. Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanate) is another option, especially for kids who have recently taken Amoxicillin. It’s also a perfect choice if the child has pink eye and an ear infection.
Antibiotics for adults
Antibiotics for ear infections in adults are prescribed to prevent potential complications. The best medicines for ear infections are similar to those prescribed for kids.
Amoxicillin is the first-line antibiotic for adults with otitis media. These antibiotics for ear infections are taken 2 to 3 times daily, and the ear infection treatment is continued for 5 to 10 days. However, there should be a noticeable improvement in symptoms within three days of taking the medication. Augmentin is commonly prescribed as well. Adults who develop a swimmer’s ear can get relief using antibiotic ear drops.
Dosage of Antibiotics
- Pediatric Dosage
The following are the dosages for antibiotics commonly prescribed for ear infections in kids:
|40 mg/kg per day in 2 or 3 doses
|Amoxicillin 40 mg/kg per day, clavulanate 5.7 mg/kg per day in 2 doses
|3 g/day (amoxicillin component)
|10 mg/kg once on day 1, followed by 5 mg/kg once per day on days 2 through 5
|500 mg/day on day 1; 250 mg/day on days 2 through 5
|14 mg/kg per day in one or two doses
- Adult Dosage
In the case of an adult ear infection, the following are the options for the best antibiotics to treat an ear infection:
|875/500mg orally twice daily.
|500 mg three times daily or 875 mg twice daily.
|200 mg twice daily.
|100 mg every 12 hours
|500 mg on day 1, followed by 250 mg days 2 through 5
How is an acute middle ear infection treated?
Acute otitis media/middle ear infection and otitis externa, also called Swimmer’s ear, are two common ear infections. An ear infection can be accompanied by pain, fever, discharge from the ear(s), or difficulty hearing. In case of an ear infection symptoms, it is best to visit a doctor for a healthcare examination. An ear examination is carried out by using an otoscope to diagnose an ear infection.
What are the complications associated with ear infections?
Occasionally, an ear infection may lead to the following:
- Rupture of the eardrum
- Chronic otitis media
- Brain abscess
- Meningitis (infection of the brain membrane)
- Mastoiditis (infection of the bones behind the ear)
What if my ear infection doesn’t go away after antibiotics?
You should visit an ENT specialist if you have a middle ear infection that shows no improvement. Unresolved infections can lead to complications and result in the spread of infection, permanent hearing loss, and paralysis of a facial nerve.
In case of a relapse, consult and discuss it with your doctor in detail and get the diagnosis and prescription per your medical needs.
When should I see a doctor?
Although viral infections usually resolve independently, bacterial ear infections can lead to complications. Hence, it is best to consult a doctor at Your Doctors Online for proper diagnosis and treatment. Reach out to a doctor in case of the following symptoms:
- Worsening symptoms
- Fluid, pus, or discharge from the ear
- Symptoms lasting more than 2 to 3 days
- Hearing loss
- Swelling, redness, or pain behind the ear
- Eye redness or discharge
FAQs about Antibiotics for ear infection
Some ear infections can settle on their own. However, if symptoms worsen or persist, antibiotics are required.
Repeated infections are known as chronic otitis media. These may result in permanent damage to the ear, including hearing loss. This can affect speech development as well.
Depending on the infection, the treatment involves 7 to 10 days of antibiotics.
No, stopping the antibiotics can lead to bacterial resistance and promote the recurrence of infections.
Don’t use the same antibiotics for your child. The prescription, dosage and antibiotic type differ from person to person.
Placing a damp washcloth over the affected ear and taking over-the-counter medication to relieve pain, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help settle the discomfort but for curing the infection, antibiotics may be required.