After initial treatment, if your child does not improve within twenty-four hours, call your doctor again. The risk of a permanent hearing loss increases if an ear infection is not properly treated or does not respond to treatment promptly. It may be necessary to try another treatment.
Emergency Treatment for Ear Infection
If your child experiences a sudden, severe pain, with drainage from the ear, it can mean that he has a perforated eardrum. When the buildup of pressure finally causes the drum to rupture, the relief from pressure can actually cause a dramatic lessening of the pain. Even if your child seems to be feeling better, take him to the doctor right away for an examination.
If your child experiences fever, chills, dizziness, or a serious hearing loss, call your doctor. These signs indicate that the infection may have worsened or traveled to the inner ear, requiring prompt medical attention.
Another potential, and
extremely serious, complication is meningitis. If your child complains of a
severe headache, stiff neck, and lethargy, contact your physician immediately
Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, Bactrim, Septra, Augmentin, Ceclor, Suprax, and Pediazole, are commonly prescribed for ear infections. Most children with a first-time infection feel significantly better within forty-eight to seventy-two hours after starting a course of antibiotics, but it is important for them to continue taking the medication for the full course to be certain all infection is gone. Your health care provider will want to see your child once the full course of antibiotics is completed, to make sure the infection has cleared. Because many ear infections persist even after the symptoms have eased, it's important to keep follow-up appointments.
While antibiotics are a common treatment for ear infections, parents should be aware that a study done in the Netherlands compared children with ear infections who were treated with antibiotics to a control group who were given a placebo. Although the antibiotic group improved somewhat faster, it is interesting to note that there was little difference between the two groups in long-term outcome.
Some ear infections may not respond to the first medication prescribed. If your child doesn't seem to be improving after four or five days, talk with your doctor. Another of fice visit and evaluation, and possibly a change of medication, may be required.
An analgesic, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra, and others) can help to relieve the pain of an ear infection and also bring down fever.
Note: In excessive amounts, this drug can cause liver damage. Read package directions carefully so as not to exceed the proper dosage for your child's age and size.
If your child's ear infection is related to sinus or nasal congestion, an antihistamine and/or a decongestant may be prescribed. Antihistamines often cause sleepiness, so if your child can't sleep because of the discomfort, your doctor may recommend one. Research has not shown these medications to be helpful in actually curing ear infections, however.