What Is the Best Medicine for an Ear Infection? | Mira (2023)

Ear infections are painful medical conditions that affect 60 to 80% of children by age one and are caused by bacteria or a virus entering the body. The best-recommended pain relievers for individuals with an ear infection to take are Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Motrin (Ibuprofen), the best oral antibiotic is amoxicillin, the best ototopical antibiotic is ofloxacin .3% ear drops, and the best anesthetic ear drops are antipyrine and benzocaine otic (A/B Otic) drops.

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The Best Medicine for an Ear Infection

When trying to combat an ear infection, there are different avenues you can take in terms of relieving the pain and eradicating the infection. For example, pain relievers, such as Tylenol and Motrin, are used in relieving pain or discomfort associated with an ear infection. On the other hand, though, antibiotics like amoxicillin or ofloxacin .3% ear drops, are important for fighting off the bacteria that triggered the condition.

The Cost of Best Ear Infection Medications

Take a look at the table below for the average costs associated with the associated cost of each medication.

MedicationCost
Tylenol$14
Motrin$15.27
Amoxicillin$23.99
Ofloxacin .3% Ear Drops$55.85 for 5 mL
A/B Otic Drops$64.69 for 10 mL

Pain Relievers

Pain relievers play a crucial role in the betterment of an ear infection as they can better the discomfort that stems from the ear infection within a few hours. Typically, doctors will advise that you rotate between Tylenol and Motrin to experience the best effects.

With pain relievers though, it’s also important to take into consideration the age of the individual with the ear infection. If a child is younger than 6 months, doctors advise to only give them Tylenol. However, if they are above the age of 6 months, it is okay to give them either Tylenol or Motrin.

Oral Antibiotics

Antibiotics are useful in that they actually kill the bacteria within the middle ear space that causes the infection. Thus, you will most likely receive a prescription for an antibiotic if your ear infection is suspected to be bacterial.

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Physicians are most likely to prescribe an antibiotic if:

  • A child is over 6 months and is suffering from more intense ear pain and has a fever of 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
  • A child between the ages of 6 months to 23 months has slight middle ear pain in one or both ears with a temperature less than 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Children over the age of 24 months have mild ear pain in one or both ears with a temperature less than 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Amoxicillin is the most commonly used antibiotic for treating ear infections, as it works well in stopping bacterial growth. It is an antibiotic that falls into the penicillin category and typically can be taken with or without food every 8 to 12 hours, or as directed by your doctor.

A drawback to utilizing amoxicillin though is that it must be administered often for the most effectivity. Additionally, as with any antibiotic, some doctors may recommend the wait-and-see approach to avoid antibiotic resistance and other potential side effects that come with taking an antibiotic.

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Ototopical Antibiotics

Ototopical antibiotics are medications that are administered topically in the ear to treat both middle and outer ear infections. Ototopical antibiotics can be beneficial in that they allow for a greater concentration of medication to be administered at a given time, they are generally cheaper than oral antibiotics, and they disrupt the ear canal’s microenvironment in order to control bacterial proliferation.

Ofloxacin .3% ear drops are administered via liquid droplets into the ear, and similarly to oral antibiotics, is commonly used to treat both outer and middle ear infections by stunting bacterial growth. It belongs to a class of drugs known as quinolone antibiotics and should be used regularly in order to see the best results.

Anaesthetic Ear Drops

Anaesthetic ear drops are used to help remove ear pain and swelling that is prompted by middle ear infections. Additionally, they can help eradicate earwax buildup and typically come in liquid droplet form.

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A/B Otic drops fall into this class of medications called analgesics and can be used in combination with other antibiotics. Typically, to see the most benefits, it is used 3 times a day for 2 to 3 days. A/B Otic drops are unique in that they contain 2 main medications— Antipyrine’s main purpose is to decrease the pain, and benzocaine helps numb the area.

Ear Infection Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Monitoring an ear infection and knowing whether or not you are properly combating it can be confusing. In order to have a better glimpse into the ins and outs of ear infections and medications, take a look at some of these commonly asked questions.

How is an ear infection diagnosed?

Generally, physicians will be able to diagnose an ear infection based on the symptoms you describe. Some common symptoms of an ear infection include fever, difficulty sleeping, reduced hearing, drainage from the ear, and pulling at one or both ears. Additionally, the doctor will use an otoscope, a lighted instrument, to inspect the ears, throat, and nasal passage to confirm the diagnosis.

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How can I prevent an ear infection?

Maintaining overall health is key to preventing ear infections. You can take further action by receiving recommended vaccines such as the flu vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine and cleaning your hands. It is also advised to avoid smoking and second-hand smoke exposure and dry your ears thoroughly after you swim. To prevent ear infections for younger children, it is recommended to only breastfeed until your baby is 6 months old and then continue to breastfeed until the baby is about 12 months old.

When should I seek medical attention?

It is suggested that you see a doctor if:

  • Your child has a fever of 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Symptoms appear to be worsening
  • There is pus/discharge coming from the ears
  • Hearing loss occurs

What is the wait-and-see approach?

Typically, symptoms of ear infections will improve within the first couple of days, and a majority of ear infections can clear up on their own within a week or two. Doctors may advise you to simply monitor an ear infection or wait a few days until filling a prescription if a child between 6 to 23 months has mild ear pain and a temperature below 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or if a child 24 months or over has mild ear pain and a temperature less than 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for this is to prevent an individual from developing a resistance to antibiotics when the individual’s body could fight the infection on its own.

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Should I use ototopical or oral antibiotics for an ear infection?

You will want to consult your doctor first and foremost before making this decision. Typically, ototopical antibiotics are more effective in eradicating infections due to their higher concentrations, but your doctor may recommend oral antibiotics depending on your age or medical history.

Bottom Line

Ear infections can be incredibly uncomfortable and painful medical conditions, especially for young kids. However, there are solutions to combating it such as taking pain relievers or antibiotics. To best fight the pain associated with the infection, alternating Tylenol and Motrin is the best option for immediate relief. However, if the infection is bacterial as opposed to viral, antibiotics such as amoxicillin or ofloxacin will be the best option for fighting off the infection.

FAQs

What gets rid of ear infections quickly? ›

Antibiotics are a medicine prescribed by your doctor. If you're dealing with an ear infection caused by bacteria, you'll likely need antibiotics. They are the best way of quickly getting rid of a bacterial infection and preventing it from spreading to other parts of the body.

What is the best antibiotic for an ear infection? ›

One of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for ear infections is amoxicillin. However, some types of bacteria are becoming resistant to it because of its frequent, and usually unnecessary, use. Ciprofloxacin is another commonly used antibiotic for fighting bacterial ear infections.

How do you get rid of an ear infection without seeing a doctor? ›

Below are some ways to feel better, even if antibiotics are needed for an ear infection: Rest. Extra water or other fluids. Over-the-Counter Medicines to relieve pain or fever.

How can I treat an ear infection myself? ›

While most cases of ear infections clear up on their own, there are a handful of at-home remedies that can help, like applying a hot or cold compress, using over-the-counter pain relievers or adjusting your sleep position.

How do I know if my ear infection is bacterial or viral? ›

Ear pain and new onset fever after several days of a runny nose is probably an ear infection.
...
Bacterial Infections
  1. Symptoms persist longer than the expected 10-14 days a virus tends to last.
  2. Fever is higher than one might typically expect from a virus.
  3. Fever gets worse a few days into the illness rather than improving.
21 Nov 2019

What should you avoid with an ear infection? ›

Most ear infections clear up within 3 days, although sometimes symptoms can last up to a week. If you, or your child, have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you feel better.

What can I buy over the counter for an ear infection? ›

The CDC recommends OTC pain relievers — such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) — to control pain and inflammation caused by ear infections. For moderate pain, your healthcare provider may recommend that you alternate between acetaminophen and ibuprofen throughout the day.

Can I buy antibiotic ear drops over the counter? ›

Painkillers and disinfectant ear drops are some of the more common treatments that are available in pharmacies without a prescription. But prescription-only ear drops – for instance, containing antibiotics or steroids – are often used too.

What are the 3 types of ear infection? ›

Types of ear infection include: otitis externa. otitis media – acute or chronic. serous otitis media.

What causes ear infections in adults? ›

An ear infection is caused by a bacterium or virus in the middle ear. This infection often results from another illness — cold, flu or allergy — that causes congestion and swelling of the nasal passages, throat and eustachian tubes.

How do you get rid of an ear infection overnight? ›

For adults, taking pain relief medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen before bedtime may be a big help in relieving ear infection symptoms and granting a good night's sleep.

What happens if you leave an ear infection untreated? ›

An untreated infection can spread to other nearby tissue in and around the ear, and in rare cases even into the skull, resulting in meningitis. Infections will more commonly spread to the mastoid, just behind the ear, which can damage the bone and form pus-filled cysts.

Can you fight an ear infection naturally? ›

Many ear infections clear up on their own in about a week or two, with symptoms starting to get better after a few days. Be sure to check with your child's pediatrician if your child has ear pain, especially if they are under 2 years of age.

How long does an ear infection last without antibiotics? ›

How Long Do Ear Infections Last? Middle ear infections often go away on their own within 2 or 3 days, even without any specific treatment. Often, there's fluid in the middle ear even after an infection clears up. If it's there for longer than than 3 months, more treatment might be needed.

How long does it take for an infected ear to go away? ›

The average person experiences a middle ear infection for about 3 days, with symptoms sometimes lasting for a week. As mentioned earlier, ear infections will occasionally go away on their own in a couple of days.

Are ear infections linked to Covid? ›

It is possible, but unlikely, to develop an ear infection after coronavirus, as ear infections are not a common symptom related to COVID-19.

How do you check for an ear infection at home? ›

Here are some things to look for:
  1. A red, bulging eardrum.
  2. Clear, yellow, or greenish fluid behind the eardrum. There may also be some blood.
  3. Earwax buildup.
  4. A hole in the eardrum (perforated eardrum)
3 Oct 2022

What does a severe ear infection look like? ›

A healthy eardrum looks pinkish-gray. An infection of the middle ear, or an ear with otitis media, looks red, bulging, and there may be clear, yellow, or even greenish hued drainage.

What aggravates an ear infection? ›

For children, the most common trigger of an ear infection is an upper respiratory viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. These disorders can make the Eustachian tube so swollen that air can no longer flow into the middle ear.

When should I go to the doctor for an ear infection? ›

You should contact your doctor immediately if: The symptoms do not improve within 3 days. Body temperature rises above 100.4 degrees as an accompanying fever could indicate a more serious infection. Ear infections are being experienced regularly, as they can eventually lead to hearing loss.

What does an ear infection feel like in adults? ›

Inner ear infections typically present with hearing loss, vertigo, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. If you have these symptoms, you should rest, avoid driving, sudden movements and alcohol.

Does hydrogen peroxide help ear infections? ›

If you are prone to recurrent outer ear infections ('otitis externa'), using hydrogen peroxide alone when you feel the first symptoms of an infection can sometimes avoid the need for antibiotic drops. Use it three times a day for a week, and see your doctor if symptoms of infection get worse.

What is given to adults for ear infections? ›

Prescription Medications

Antibiotic ear drops are often prescribed for the treatment of outer ear infections. Some prescribed ear drops, such as Ciprodex (ciprofloxacin and dexamethasone ), combine an antibiotic and a steroid medication to help with inflammation.

Why am I getting ear infections all of a sudden? ›

There are multiple causes for recurring (chronic) ear infections, or recurring otitis media, ranging from allergies, sinusitis, ear injuries, and bacterial infections from colds or flu.

Why are ear infections so painful? ›

An ear infection happens when fluid in the interior space behind the eardrum becomes infected, usually with bacteria. The tube leading into the body becomes blocked, and fluid builds up behind the eardrum. The increased pressure pushes the eardrum outward, causing pain and fever.

Do ear infections go away OK their own? ›

Most ear infections cure themselves without the help of antibiotics. "An ear infection is a bacterial or viral infection that affects the ear. It becomes painful when buildups of fluid and inflammation occur in the air-filled space behind the eardrum," says Leanna Munoz, Mayo Clinic Health System nurse practitioner.

Can you recover from an ear infection on your own? ›

Many ear infections will resolve on their own and the only needed treatment is medication for discomfort. Roughly 80% of infections will clear up without antibiotics but children under 6 months or patients with severe symptoms generally will require antibiotics.

How do you get ear infections? ›

Ear infections are caused by bacteria and viruses. Many times, an ear infection begins after a cold or other respiratory infection. The bacteria or virus travel into the middle ear through the eustachian tube (there's one in each ear). This tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat.

When an ear infection is serious? ›

Seek emergency care if you have any of the following symptoms: Pain in an ear with or without fever. Itching of the ear or ear canal. Loss of hearing or difficulty hearing in one or both ears.

How do you treat an ear infection in adults naturally? ›

Apple cider vinegar with warm water ear drops

Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar with warm, not hot, water. Apply 5 to 10 drops in each affected ear using a clean dropper bottle or baby syringe. Cover your ear with a cotton ball or clean cloth and lean on your side to let drops enter and sit in the ear.

How do you massage your ears to drain? ›

With firm, steady pressure slide your finger down until it slips into a groove between the ear lobe and the jaw. Follow that groove down the neck with your finger, sliding down (with same steady pressure) until you reach the collar bone. Repeat three to four times per side, about three times a day.

How do you drain your ear? ›

Tip your head to one side to help water drain. Gently pull on your earlobe. This will straighten your ear canal and help the water flow. Turn your blow dryer on the lowest setting and blow it toward your ear.

How long does it normally take for an ear infection to go away? ›

Most ear infections are not cured after the first dose of antibiotic. Often, children don't get better the first day. Most children get better slowly over 2 to 3 days. Note: For mild ear infections in older children, antibiotics may not be needed.

How long does it usually take for an ear infection to go away? ›

How Long Do Ear Infections Last? Middle ear infections often go away on their own within 2 or 3 days, even without any specific treatment. Often, there's fluid in the middle ear even after an infection clears up. If it's there for longer than than 3 months, more treatment might be needed.

Can you beat ear infection without antibiotics? ›

No Need For Antibiotics The latest guidelines from the AAP suggest that doctors should focus on pain management, not antibiotics, for ear infections. This is because ear infections often go away on their own, and the overuse of antibiotics could lead to antibiotic-resistant infections.

How do you check for an ear infection? ›

An instrument called a pneumatic otoscope is often the only specialized tool a doctor needs to diagnose an ear infection. This instrument enables the doctor to look in the ear and judge whether there is fluid behind the eardrum. With the pneumatic otoscope, the doctor gently puffs air against the eardrum.

What does an ear infection feel like for adults? ›

The symptoms of an ear infection in adults are: Earache (either a sharp, sudden pain or a dull, continuous pain) A sharp stabbing pain with immediate warm drainage from the ear canal. A feeling of fullness in the ear.

How does a ear infection look like? ›

A healthy eardrum looks pinkish-gray. An infection of the middle ear, or an ear with otitis media, looks red, bulging, and there may be clear, yellow, or even greenish hued drainage.

What ear drops are good for ear pain? ›

Antipyrine and benzocaine otic is used to relieve ear pain and swelling caused by middle ear infections. It may be used along with antibiotics to treat an ear infection. It is also used to help remove a build up of ear wax in the ear. Antipyrine and benzocaine are in a class of medications called analgesics.

Is hydrogen peroxide good for ear infections? ›

If you are prone to recurrent outer ear infections ('otitis externa'), using hydrogen peroxide alone when you feel the first symptoms of an infection can sometimes avoid the need for antibiotic drops. Use it three times a day for a week, and see your doctor if symptoms of infection get worse.

What happens if an infected ear goes untreated? ›

An untreated infection can spread to other nearby tissue in and around the ear, and in rare cases even into the skull, resulting in meningitis. Infections will more commonly spread to the mastoid, just behind the ear, which can damage the bone and form pus-filled cysts.

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