Ow, a middle ear infection: what helps?

Middle ear infections are quite painful. How you can alleviate symptoms and when you should go to the doctor.

Children between the ages of six months and six years in particular suffer from middle ear infections quite often. Unlike adults, they have a short and narrow Eustachian tube. Even in case of minor inflammations, it easily swells up – for instance if bacteria from the nose and pharynx reach the middle ear. Symptoms include pain in the ear affected with or without discharge, a cold and possibly a fever.

Alleviate pain and inhibit inflammation

Taking ibuprofen in age-appropriate doses can help to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. The connection between the ear, nose, pharynx and nose should be kept clear. In case of young children, it is preferable to use saline nasal irrigation devices and carefully aspirate the secretions instead of using decongestant nasal sprays.

Avoid ear drops and do not clean your ears with cotton buds. In case of a persistent fever, a lack of improvement or even deterioration, the paediatrician can prescribe antibiotics.

Possible complications

Bleeding and a temporary loss of hearing may occur, but are no reason to worry. Most middle ear infections heal without consequences.

By Dr Silvia Kurpanik, General Medical Practitioner, eedoctors.ch

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