Otitis Media: Conservative Treatment Options

Pediatric otolaryngology practices commonly treat acute otitis media, also known as a middle ear infection. Symptoms of otitis media include ear pain, fever, balance problems, headache, fluid in the ear, loss of appetite, and sometimes, muffled hearing. Babies who have acute otitis media may tug at their ears, cry more than usual, and have trouble sleeping. If your child suffers from frequent middle ear infections, then the pediatric ENT doctor may recommend a minor surgical procedure to insert drainage tubes inside the ears. Before drainage tubes are recommended, however, the physician may recommend the following conservative treatment options to treat your child's otitis media.


Acute otitis media is often caused by a bacterial infection, but it can also be caused by viruses and allergies. If your child's doctor determines that the middle ear infection is caused by a bacterial microorganism, then antibiotics may be prescribed, either in drop form or orally. If the otitis media is thought to be caused by a viral infection or from an allergy, then antibiotics will not be prescribed because antibiotics are only effective in treating ear infections caused by bacteria.

To make sure that the infection has been completed eradicated, it is essential that your child finishes the complete course of antibiotics. The pediatric ENT doctor may also recommend that your child eat yogurt while taking the antibiotics because antibiotics can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea, and eating yogurt containing live cultures will help prevent gastrointestinal distress so that the child may be more compliant with taking the antibiotics. 

Comfort Measures

Because otitis media can cause significant ear pain, comfort measures should be initiated. The pediatrician may recommend over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen because both of these medications relieve pain and reduce fever. It is important to note that, while acetaminophen is an excellent pain and fever reducer, it does not help control ear inflammation that may occur as a result of an infection. Conversely, ibuprofen is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and, therefore, is very effective in suppressing inflammation.

In addition to taking over-the-counter medication, placing a heating pad over the affected ear can soothe away the pain; however, the heating pad must always be turned to the lowest setting and turned off when the child goes to sleep. 

If your child experiences signs and symptoms of otitis media, make an appointment with the pediatrician as soon as possible. When acute middle ear infections are recognized and treated promptly, your child is less likely to develop a secondary infection or eardrum damage, which could result in permanent hearing deficits. 

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Face It: ENTs Are Awesome

When there's something wrong with your ears, nose, and throat, call an ENT specialist! These doctors are amazing at dealing with everything from acute hearing loss to tonsil trouble. They can evaluate what is wrong with you, often using simple tests such as a nasal scope or an ear exam. After your first appointment, you should have some answers, which will help you move forward towards better treatment. ENT specialists' professions are not always as well understood as they should be, but you can gain a better understanding by reading the articles provided here. Read one on your lunch break or a few in the evening when you're relaxing.



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Pediatric otolaryngology practices commonly treat acute otitis media, also known as a middle ear infection. Symptoms of otitis media include ear pain,