Pharmacy health: Treatment For Childhood Ear Infections

Ear infections occur very commonly during childhood, particularly in the first 2 to 4 years of life. Children who are bottle-fed, attend daycare, or are exposed to cigarette smoke may be at an increased risk of an ear infection. Otitis media is the medical term for middle ear inflammation. Acute otitis media is an ear infection in which fluid, or pus, accumulates in the middle ear. Symptoms of this type of ear infection include eardrum redness, pain, and fever. Irritability, decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, and mild temporary hearing loss are other signs of a possible ear infection. Middle ear infections sometimes resolve within 2 to 3 days without medical treatment. However, antibiotics may be prescribed for 5 to 10 days of treatment, depending on the individual child. Antibiotics will not get rid of fluid in the ear and will only minimally reduce pain. For these reasons, along with many others, doctors may recommend pain relieving medications and wait to see if the infection resolves in a few days before prescribing antibiotics. Nonprescription pain relievers and fever reducers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may be given to alleviate the discomfort associated with an ear infection. Antibiotics are more likely to be prescribed for children with more severe or recurrent ear infections.