Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Most cases are treated with prescription eardrops for 7-10 days.
These drops contain an antibiotic to fight the infection, and often a steroid to reduce
The drops are placed in the affected ear with the individual laying on their side. After the drops are placed, the patient should remain in this position for about 5 minutes to prevent the drops from running out
of the ear.
If the ear canal is very swollen, a wick or small piece of gauze material
may be placed into the canal to allow the ear drops to reach the appropriate
Occasionally, the health care professional may prescribe an oral antibiotic as well as
the eardrops. Pain medication either OTC or prescription is often needed for a few days until the infection
is under control.
The ear canal should be kept dry during treatment. An earplug or small
cotton ball coated with Vaseline can be used during bathing to keep water out.
In some cases the drainage in the ear builds up, and the infection won't
clear until it is removed. Referral to an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and
throat specialist) may be required.
There are different ways of approaching the treatment of otitis media.
Depending upon the situation, the health care professional may prescribe antibiotics
immediately. This is most often used for adults who develop otitis media.
Alternatively, in children, observation and comfort care may be appropriate,
and if symptoms resolve in 2-3 days, no antibiotics may be necessary. The
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends this two-step approach depending upon
the age of the child, the certainty of the diagnosis, the severity of illness,
and the ability of the child and family to have access to follow-up care.
The decision about which course of treatment to use will depend upon the
discussion between parent and health care professional. A prescription for
antibiotics may be provided to the parents or caregiver with the
instructions not to fill the prescription for 2 to 3 days, and then only
fill and use the prescription only if the symptoms persist.
Symptomatic treatment may include pain control with over-the-counter or
prescription pain medications, drinking plenty of fluids, and humidifying the air.
Treatment for infections of the eardrum may include oral antibiotics,
antibiotic ear drops, and pain medications.