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4 Ways to Treat Ear Infections

This is part 2 of the series on the ear, covering the middle ear infections that cause young children and their parents so much pain.

By
Rob Lamberts, MD
6-minute read
Episode #14

What to Do if Your Eardrum Ruptures

I remember watching an episode of Tarzan when I was a kid. He went too deep in the water when doing something like wrestling a hippo, and ruptured his eardrums. Blood came out of his ears. I was traumatized. I thought he’d never hear again short of a miracle. I am still recovering from that trauma.

Well, the good news for Tarzan is that ruptured eardrums are usually no big deal. Sometimes the pressure produced by an infection causes the eardrum to rupture. This is kind of like the body making its own ear tubes, allowing the infected fluid to drain out of the ear. The relief of the pressure can actually take away the pain. So a good clue that an eardrum has ruptured is a sudden relief of pain along with ear drainage. You may want to see your doctor if this happens, but it’s nothing to panic about.

I need to mention that traumatically rupturing an eardrum is more serious than a pressure-induced rupture because it can damage the bones in your ear. Don’t stick things in your ear. I could quote the common admonition: never stick anything sharper than your elbow in your ear, but I don’t want anyone hurting their shoulders trying to do it.

So here are my quick and dirty tips regarding middle ear infections:

  1. It’s ok to wait. If you or your child is not in bad pain or running a fever, it’s OK to let an ear infection go. Many will get better without antibiotics.

  2. Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the pain. You can also use pain relief eardrops, but don’t use them if you suspect a perforation or if your child has tubes.

  3. Don’t demand antibiotics. Again, overuses of antibiotics is often much more dangerous than infection.

  4. For repeated infections requiring multiple antibiotics, ask if ear tubes are appropriate.

That pretty much covers…uh… wraps up middle ear infections.

If you have topics you want me to cover, send them to housecalldoctor@quickanddirtytips.com. You can follow me on Twitter at @houscalldoc, and join the party at my Facebook page, where I answer listener questions, talk more in depth about podcast topics, and generally have a raucous time.

Catch you next time! Stay Healthy!

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Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.