Middle ear infections are typically a result of a viral respiratory infection, which in most cases are self-limiting, meaning they go away on their own without treatment. If your child has a middle ear infection, the best thing you can do is make them comfortable, make sure they get plenty of rest, and keep them well hydrated. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen (for children over six months old) may be used to relieve ear pain and reduce fever. When a middle ear infection is caused by bacteria, your child's provider may prescribe antibiotics.
Swimmer's ear is generally a bacterial infection, which means it can be treated with antibiotics. Treatment recommendations vary somewhat, but it is most commonly recommended that antibiotic ear drops be given for three days beyond the cessation of symptoms (typically five to seven days). In patients with more severe infections, however, 10 to 14 days of antibiotic treatment may be required. Corticosteroids may be used to reduce itching and inflammation, and acetaminophen or ibuprofen (for children over six months old) may be used for pain relief.
Pressure Equalization (PE) Tubes
Some children have recurrent middle ear infections, which is defined as four or more ear infections within 12 months, or they may have fluid in the middle ear that persists even with treatment. In these cases, a provider may suggest the insertion of pressure equalization, or PE, tubes, a procedure done by an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) surgeon.
Learn more about PE Tube Surgery.