Does an Ear Infection Require Antibiotics?

May 29, 2024

An ear infection can be a difficult ailment, especially for children. In fact, ear infections are very common for young children– especially under age two. As parents, you want to help your children heal and remove any discomfort they are feeling. You may think that antibiotics might be necessary. In fact, many ear infections go away on their own and without the need for antibiotics. But that doesn’t mean antibiotics are never used for ear infections. In this blog, we’ll explore the causes and symptoms of ear infections, the role of medication in treatment, and when it’s necessary to seek medical attention.

For same-day ear infection treatment, visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care Aberdeen. Our medical team specializes in providing immediate care to patients of all ages, including pediatric care. Just walk-in today!

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What Causes Ear Infections?

Understanding the causes of an ear infection can help in the prevention and treatment of ear infections. These infections– particularly in the middle ear (otitis media) – are caused by a variety of factors, including:

1. Bacterial Infections: Bacterial pathogens can commonly cause ear infections. Different types of bacteria, like Streptococcus pneumoniae, can enter the middle ear through the Eustachian tube (which connects the ear to the back of the throat) and cause an infection to develop. 

2. Viral Infections: Viruses such as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza virus, and common cold viruses can also lead to ear infections. Viruses often cause inflammation and fluid buildup in the middle ear, creating an environment conducive for an infection to develop.

Part of the core reason a doctor might recommend an antibiotic is because of the cause of ear infections. Ear infections that are bacterial in nature can be treated with antibiotics, whereas viral ear infections cannot.

How Can I Alleviate Ear Infection Symptoms at Home

If a doctor or medical professional recommends waiting out an ear infection for it to heal naturally, you might want to consider home remedies that can help alleviate discomfort while the healing process happens. A good option is to put a washcloth under warm (not hot) water and place it over the affected ear. The warmth can help alleviate the symptoms associated with the ear infection. If your child also has a headache or a fever, you should address those symptoms with appropriate over-the-counter medications.

Does My Child Need To See A Doctor About Their Ear Infection?

While ear infections tend to heal themselves over time there are some situations where you should seek medical advice. The three things to consider are the level of discomfort, the duration of the symptoms, and other serious symptoms. If a child between the ages of 2-6 experiences severe discomfort/pain, or the ear infection lasts more than two full days, or they also have a fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit you should see a doctor. Medical professionals might recommend antibiotics based on your or your child’s other symptoms. A healthcare provider can recommend antibiotics and diagnose any other ailments/illnesses that might be linked to the ear infection. 

How Do I Know If My Infant Has An Ear Infection?

While a child might easily be able to communicate pain in and around their ear, children under the age of two are harder to diagnose. Be on the lookout for common signs that your baby or toddler has an ear infection including pulling or tugging on their ear, pain when lying down, fever, and difficulty sleeping. 

Get Walk-In Ear Infection Treatment at AFC Urgent Care Aberdeen

If you live in the Aberdeen, NJ area and need help with ear infections or other illnesses symptoms, come visit the walk-in clinic at AFC Urgent Care Aberdeen. Our urgent care center operates on a walk-in basis, allowing those with the busiest schedules to stop by at their convenience.  We’re open seven days a week! Our team is dedicated to providing the most exceptional urgent care to those who need it. We accept most health insurance plans and offer cost-effective options to self-paying patients. If you have any additional questions about ear infection treatment, or other services we provide, please contact our medical team directly at (732) 583-5100.

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