Otitis media (OM), commonly known as acute ear infection, is the most common cause of earache. It occurs when a fluid becomes locked in the middle ear due to allergy, or bacterial and/or viral infections (common colds). Ear infection can affect people at any age, but generally, almost 75% of the cases occur in infants under the age of 10. More precisely, it affects babies between 6 and 12 months old. Children who have a weaker immune system are more prone to ear infections than children with a strong immune system.
Why Are Children More Prone to Ear Infections?
The ear passages in children are shorter, narrower, and more horizontal than in adults and therefore it is much easier for bacteria to get to the middle ear and for the fluid to get locked in that area. Moreover, the children`s immune system is not completely/fully developed and therefore it is more difficult for it to fight infections.
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infection
- Earache, ranging from mild to severe, particularly when the infant is lying down
- Frequent pulling or tugging at an ear
- Sleep problems
- Unusual drainage of fluid from the ear, which is thick, yellow and sometimes bloody
- Crying more intensively than usual
- Fever of 38oC (100oF) or higher
- Balance problems
- Loss of appetite
- Drainage of fluid from the ear
- Reduced hearing
Are Antibiotics Necessary?
Generally, ear infections are caused by a virus and therefore doctors recommend treatments which only include relieving of the symptoms. However, it is very difficult for the doctors to determine whether the infection is caused by a virus or bacteria.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians suggests a wait-and-see method for infants 6 to 23 months old, who have mild earache in one ear which lasts not longer than 48 hours and temperature lower than 39oC (102.2 F), and children 24 months or older who have mild earache in one or both ears which lasts less than 48 hours, and temperature lower than 39oC (102.2 F).
However, the proper treatment in children depends on the severity of the symptoms and the child`s age.
There was a fierce debate held in the 1990`s about using antibiotics in threating ear infections since the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria was growing. The treatment without antibiotics has been proved as efficient by a couple of studies. However, there are many U.S. doctors who are worried about the treatment without antibiotics since the bacteria which thrive inside the middle ear can start multiplying uncontrollably which can lead to more serious consequences, including hearing impairment or mastoiditis. Because of this reason, U.S. doctors tend to prescribe antibiotics for all ear infections.
The most commonly used antibiotic for treating ear-infections is amoxicillin. It is highly effective and inexpensive. Also, it has a pleasant taste and is easy on the stomach and intestines. People who are allergic to amoxicillin are often prescribed sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim, or azithromycin.
The antibiotic treatment should last at least seven days, even if you or your child is feeling better, in order to prevent the recurrence of the infection.
Note: You MUST consult your doctor before taking any conventional medicine, including antibiotics.
How to Relieve the Pain
You can place a warm, moist washcloth over the infected ear in order to ease the pain.
Doctors commonly prescribe antipyrine-benzocaine-glycerin (Aurodex). If you apply them to your children, first place the bottle in warm water. Benzocaine should not be given to children under the age of two. Adults should never exceed the recommended dose.
Your physician may recommend the se of over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Be extremely precautious when giving aspirin to your children. Even though aspirin is approved as safe for use in children older age 2, consult your doctor first.
Natural Homemade Remedies
This is the best solution since you already have it on your home. The procedure is very simple. Take one cup of salt and heat it on a pan over low heat for a couple of minutes. Alternatively, you can heat it double-boiler or in a microwave. Put the hot salt on a cloth and tie the open end with a rubber band or a knot. Allow it to cool down for a while, until it becomes bearably hot. Lie down and apply it on the affected year. Let it act for 5-10 minutes. Repeat the procedure as often as necessary. This treatment will remove the fluid from the ear and reduce the swelling and pain.
Garlic is the most powerful natural antibiotic and therefore can be very efficient in treating ear infection. There are several ways in which you can use garlic as a home remedy.
- Cook two garlic cloves with two tablespoons of sesame or mustard oil until it becomes blackish. Strain the solution. Allow it to cool down until it`s bearably hot and apply 2-4 drops of the resulting mixture in the infected ear.
- Another way is to boil 2-3 fresh garlic cloves in water for 5 minutes. Then, crush them and add salt. Place the mixture on a clean cloth and apply on the affected ear.
- You can consume 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic in a day in order to accelerate the healing process.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an excellent option to eliminate the fungus which may be the cause for your ear infection.
- Make a mixture of one part apple cider vinegar and an equal amount of water or alcohol. Dip a cotton ball in the resulting solution.
- Place the cotton ball in your ear and let act for about 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, remove the cotton ball and lie down on the opposite side in order to allow the liquid to drain out from the ear. Use a hair dryer to dry the ear as long as possible.
Alternatively, you can use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar. If the infection is located in the Eustachian tubes, you can gargle apple cider vinegar.
Antibiotics are not absolutely necessary, but they can be very helpful in certain cases:
They speed up the healing process and help you or your child to feel better after one or two days of the treatment. The wait-and-see method usually takes several days and in this period you or your child are subjected to intense earache and fever. Furthermore, antibiotics quickly eliminate the infection-causing bacteria, which prevents spreading of the infection into the brain or the surrounding area.
So, we recommend that you wait 1-2 days for the infection to heal itself. In case the temperature continues to rise and the ache becomes more severe after 48 hours, visit your doctor, who will decide whether the ear infection needs antibiotic treatment.
This post has been seen 8250 times.