How to Treat Ear Infections (Otitis Media) with Drugs & Medications

Drugs » How to Treat Ear Infections (Otitis Media) with Drugs Medications

How to Treat Ear Infections (Otitis Media) with Drugs Medications

Middle ear infection, or otitis media, is extremely common in infants and children. By the age of 1 year, some three out of four children have had at least one episode. It is far less common in older children and adults. Why so?

One of the main reasons is the physical layout of the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear and the nose. In the young child, the tube is shorter, narrower, and more horizontal. This makes it easy for bacteria and viruses, present during a cold or nasal congestion, to travel from the nose to the middle ear.

Common symptoms of middle ear infections include ear pain, difficulty in sleeping, irritability, and fever. Some children respond by pulling on the ear. It is important to note that, even in the absence of treatment, the pain and fever are generally gone after two to three days. All the symptoms will be just a bad memory within seven days,although the ear should be checked by a physician to ensure that the infection is gone.

Causes and Treatment of Ear Infections:

Common causes of otitis media include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilis influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis, all Gram-positive bacteria. In passing, it is important to note that almost half of all cases are caused by or at least have viruses present. In these cases, an antibiotic is not necessary.

Treatment of otitis media has three objectives:

Doctors dont have a single game plan for how they treat ear infections. Some prescribe antibiotics immediately. Others delay antibiotic use for two to three days when, in most cases, the condition will improve even in the absence of drugs. If the condition hasnt improved after a few days, they prescribe antibiotics.

Why do some doctors hold off on prescribing antibiotics? Doing so avoids exposing the child to antibiotic side effects and also saves money better spent elsewhere. But from a public health perspective, there is a more important reason. Limiting the use of antibiotics when they are not needed delays the development of bacterial resistance to these drugs. With resistance, the antibiotics become less effective.

Amoxicillin, a penicillin-like drug, is the first choice for treating most cases of middle-ear infections. It is highly effective when taken by mouth, quite safe, and inexpensive. If amoxicillin doesnt work, amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin) or cefuroxime, a cephalosporin, are highly recommended backups. For severe cases that dont improve with these drugs, or when young patients cant take drugs by mouth, ceftriaxone is used. The drugs main downside is that it must be given by intramuscular injection on three consecutive days.

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