Most ear infections are caused by a bacterial accumulation in the middle ear. These infections cause fluid to build up behind the eardrum. The result is painful inflammation and swelling that can trap fluid in the inner ear. Most earaches resolve on their own or with prescription medication. However, some ear infections occur chronically and require additional medical intervention.
Ear infections are highly common among children and adults. In fact, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that 75 percent of all children experience at least one ear infection by their third birthday. The condition, also known as otitis media, can be painful for children and worrisome for parents. It causes millions of nurse practitioner visits every year – not to mention countless prescriptions for antibiotics.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of treatments are available for ear infections?
Your Nurse Practitioner may prescribe a course of antibiotics depending on the cause and extent of your infection. Usually, treatment includes several days of amoxicillin, azithromycin, or augmentin. You may also need to treat a ruptured eardrum with antibiotic or anti-inflammatory eardrops.
If you are experiencing intense pain, your nurse practitioner may suggest using an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage discomfort and aid in sleep. If pain continues, prescription eardrops may be available to anesthetize the eardrum so long as there is no drainage from the ear.
How long will it take for me to recover from an ear infection in?
Ear infections heal in stages. Antibiotics are administered to help kill bacteria in the middle ear – usually within a few days. Most symptoms of fever and discomfort resolve during this time. However, fluid may linger for several weeks and continue to interfere with hearing. It is important to follow up with your nurse practitioner within a month’s time to ensure the fluid is beginning to drain from the ear. If it lingers longer than normal, your nurse practitioner may become concerned about the potential for recurrent sinus infections, chronic colds, or allergies.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind:
It is important to see a nurse practitioner if you begin to display the signs of ear infection. An accurate diagnosis is essential for successful treatment – especially since some children can exhibit the symptoms of ear infection in association with a different condition, such as teething.
Blood and pus draining from your ear may be frightening, but they are nothing to be overly concerned about. This is a normal symptom of ear infection and may occur if your eardrum has ruptured. Most adults heal and recover from this condition with no complications.
It is important to completely finish an entire course of prescribed antibiotics as instructed. Stopping early could allow the infection to return.
Ear infections are not contagious, but the viruses and bacteria responsible for causing them are communicable. If you show the signs or symptoms of a cold, talk with your nurse practitioner about avoiding public places, such as restaurants, schools and daycares.