Middle ear infection, which is also called otitis media, occurs with the inflammation of an area behind the eardrum. This infection is caused by virus or bacteria and is common among kids.
In fact, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital says that middle ear infection happens to kids by the time they are 3. Under normal circumstances, the infection will go away by itself but sometimes antibiotics might be required.
Middle ear infections often occur during the spring and winter. There are times where middle ear infections would cause a fever. At those times, you will need to seek medical treatment.
The children hospital at Stanford mentioned above further say that any child can have an ear infection.
However, some children can be more at risk of it than others.
Some of the factors that can increase your kids’ risk of developing an ear infection are stated below:
Middle Ear Infection Risk Factors
- If they have a cold
- Lack of breastfeeding
- Poor immune system
- Regularly being around someone that smokes
- Bottle feeding while lying on their backs
- A family history of middle ear infections, etc.
Adults are not entirely immune to middle ear infections, but it is more common in children.
In fact, middle ear infection in adults is often an indication of a more serious health implication. So, as an adult, you might want to pay attention to the symptoms.
Types of Middle Ear Infections
- Acute Otitis Media
This is when mucus and fluid are trapped in the ear. This will cause the child ear pain, hearing loss, or even fever.
You will also notice redness and swelling, and this type of middle ear infection can occur abruptly.
- Otitis Media with Effusion
Effusion (fluid) and sometimes mucus accumulates in the middle ear even after an infection has been treated. This may cause hearing loss and the kid might feel fullness in the ear.
- Chronic Otitis Media with Effusion
This is the type of middle ear infection where the fluid is lodged in the ear for a long time even without an infection. It could also happen such that the fluid returns over and over.
This type makes it difficult to fight new infections and may cause hearing loss.
Middle Ear Infection Symptoms
Here are ways you know you are infected with a middle ear infection. There are quite a few them, but these ones are the commonly associated ones:
- Inability to sleep or stay asleep
- Loss of balance
- Hearing difficulty
- Fluid draining out of ear
- Tugging feeling at one’s ears
Middle Ear Infection Causes
Ear infections are generally caused by bacterial infections.
However, whether you have a middle ear infection or a swimmer ear infection (outer ear infection) will depend on how you got infected in the first place.
Our concern here is the otitis media, so, we would only talk about what causes that.
Middle ear infections often start from a cold or some other respiratory problems. The infection may move through the Eustachian tubes into one or both ears.
These tubes are responsible for regulating the air pressure in your ears.
The infection causes irritation in the Eustachian tubes which causes them to swell. This swelling will prevent them from draining fluids properly.
When that happens, the fluids accumulate and press against your eardrums. This is where the symptoms start to manifest.
Before we go into how middle ear infections can be treated, let us tell you a bit about how it is diagnosed.
Middle Ear Infection Diagnosis
The doctor will take your medical history or that of your child. A physical examination will also be conducted. Afterward, you will explain in detail the symptoms you feel.
An otoscope is often used to check the condition of one’s ear. It is a small instrument with lights that the doctors put in the ear.
A pneumatic otoscope blows a puff of air into the ear in order to note the movement of the eardrum.
A tympanometry test could also be conducted. This is to check whether the middle ear is functioning properly.
To conduct this test, a device will be inserted in your ear canal. This device will vibrate and change the pressure in your ear canal.
The changes in the vibration will be measured and the doctor will analyze the results.
Middle Ear Infection Treatments to Get Rid of Ear Infection Fast
There are different middle ear infection treatments and the specific one a physician will opt for will often depend on some certain conditions.
Some of them include:
How well your child tolerates certain medications, therapies, and treatments
- The severity of the middle ear infection
- Preferences of the parents
- How old the child is, medical history, and overall health
1. Ear Infection Antibiotics
Middle ear infection treatments may be done with antibiotics either orally or administering it directly in the ear.
This approach is adopted if the symptoms persist for three days. Then the doctor will prescribe antibiotics you can use.
Amoxicillin is often the go-to choice as it has been successfully treating middle ear infection for the past 25 years.
However, there are people who are allergic to penicillin. In such cases, the doctor might prescribe cefuroxime, cefpodoxime, cefdinir, or ceftriaxone.
Dosage for Amoxicillin
The dosage your doctor will prescribe for you will depend on the severity of the infection.
As we mentioned earlier, a middle ear infection is common among children but also affects adults. So, we will provide dosages for the two.
- You will use 80 to 90 mg per kg every day divided into 2 doses (could be morning and night)
- Mild of moderate infection: Use 500 mg every 12 hours
- Severe infection: Use 875 mg every 12 hours
Do note that your doctor might prescribe a different dosing style for you. This will depend on your treatment history, general health condition, and your symptoms.
[alert-warning]Note: However, it is important to also note that antibiotics will not provide middle ear infection relief if it was caused by a virus.[/alert-warning]
2. Using Ear Drops
We mentioned earlier that you can administer medicines for your middle ear infection directly into the ear.
What is commonly used are ear drops (Order here). Some are prescribed while others can be gotten over the counter.
These ear drops often contain topical anesthetics which help greatly to reduce the pain.
All you have to do is to gently squeeze the ear drop container to drop the fluid into the infected ear.
Duration of Treatment
For a standard infection, the treatment might last for 5 to 7 days.
But for a severe middle ear infection, your doctor might give you prescriptions to last up to 10 days.
Treating the Ear Pain
There are cases where the doctor will only recommend that you only treat an earache.
These are cases where the infection is not severe. You will be asked to treat the pain and see if the symptoms will go away.
Middle ear infection can be quite a pain and you will want to manage the pain pending the time the antibiotics will start taking effect.
In certain cases where the middle ear infection severity is low, taking painkillers and other drugs to treat a fever might be enough treatment.
Ibuprofen or acetaminophen is a great option, especially for children.
You will want to ask your doctor about the dosage of the over-the-counter drug you want to use.
But there are standard dosages for both Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen which are as follows:
- Kids younger than 6 years should take 10 to 15 mg per kg of their weight every 4 to 6 hours.
- Children of 6 to 12 years old will take 325 to 650 mg every 4 to 6 hours but must not go beyond 1.625 grams per day.
- Children that are 12 years and above should take 325 to 650 mg every 4 to 6 hours and should not exceed 3.25 grams per day.
- Children should take 4 to 10 mg per kg of their weight every 6 to 8 hours.
- Adults will take 200 to 400 mg every 6 hours.
The dosing might be listed in kilograms. In that case, you will have to take your kid’s weight and multiply it by 2.2 to convert it to kilograms.
Once you have done that, you just need to do the rest of the math to determine how many milligrams of the drug to give your child.
If the medicine is in liquid form, you will have to find out how many milligrams and in a milliliter.
From there you can easily determine the right dosage to administer.
This is a surgical procedure where the doctor creates a small opening in the eardrum. What this does is to drain the fluid in the middle ear and provide relief from the pressure.
This procedure is often done if the fluid remains in the ear for more than three months .
Furthermore, on the procedure, a tube is placed in the opening to create ventilation in the middle ear.
It also helps to prevent fluid from accumulating in the ear.
Once the fluid is completely drained, hearing is restored.
In most cases, the tube will fall off itself after some time.
[alert-warning]Warning: that you should not use ear drops while you have the tubes in your ear.[/alert-warning]
Home Remedies for Middle Ear Infection
There are some other ways to relieve the pains of an ear infection while waiting for the antibiotics to kick in or the tubes to drain the ear.
We will discuss some of them below.
1. Apply Heat
Applying some heat to the infected ear can help to reduce inflammation. This, in turn, reduces the pressure in the ear and thus relieves the pain.
There are hot packs or electric heating pads that are available for purchase on Amazon that you can use.
- All you must do is to place it on the infected ear.
- For better results, you can occasionally place the heating pad on your throat.
[alert-warning]Warning: Please note that children should not be allowed to do this without adult supervision.[/alert-warning]
2. Use Garlic for Middle Ear Infection Treatment
We all know what garlic is and the numerous ways it can be useful. However, garlic has antimicrobial properties that can fight infection.
Taking a clove of garlic each day can help to prevent an ear infection.
You can also use garlic ear drops to reduce middle ear infection pains.
How to Make Garlic Ear Drops
- To prepare the garlic ear drop,
- Cook 3 cloves of garlic in about 2 tablespoons of sesame oil or mustard.
- Allow it to cook till brown.
- Strain the liquid and put 2 to 3 drops in each ear.
Alternatively, you can order for garlic ear drops for kids on Amazon, and adult and kids ear drops
Middle Ear Infection Prevention
Middle ear infection can be serious whether in a child or an adult. So, it is better to prevent it than looking for a way to cure it.
The following are some of the important ways you can prevent middle ear infection:
- Avoid exposure to smokes of whatever type.
- Be sure that your child is up to date with their vaccines.
- Avoid feeding your child while they are lying on their backs.
- Feed your child with breast milk rather than baby formula.
- When your child is older than 6 months, do not give them a dummy.
Paying attention to your ears and personal hygiene can help prevent inner ear infection and other general ear diseases.
Complications of Middle Ear Infection
While middle ear infections going out of hand is often rare, it does happen sometimes. When it happens, it can lead to serious problems.
These complications occur when the infection spreads to other parts of the ear or even the head. For instance:
- The membranes providing a protective surrounding for the brain and spinal cord may become infected too. This will lead to meningitis.
- The infection could spread to the inner ear causing labyrinthitis.
- The infection could spread to the bones behind the ear.
It is better to prevent middle ear infection than to visit a doctor for middle ear infection treatment.
You will spare yourself the pain and save the cost of visiting a doctor.
Now is it your turn. Which of the middle ear infection remedies are you going to try first? Leave a comment below.
Stay healthy, stay happy!