Ear infections are one of the most common infections we see in the doctors office. It
can affect kids and adults alike. But it’s not something that you always need to go to
the doctor for. In this video, we’re going to review some simple things that you can
do at home to get through one. Welcome to Family Med, your medical home for practical and accurate information to help
your family make healthy decisions. I’m Doctor Erik Richardson, my passion is helping
you cut through all the health information clutter on the internet. If that sounds like
the kind of information you or family needs make sure you follow along with us, hit that
subscribe button and share it with your friends. Ok, so today we are going to be going through
what you can do at home to alleviate and help you or your child through that ear infection.
For a better discussion on what the different symptoms of an ear infection are, and when
you should go to the doctor, make sure you click up here and get some great concise information
to help you decide what to do. Now, when we talk about treatment, it”s
important to understand that there are two main types of infections that we see. One
is bacterial and one is viral. I don’t want to get too much into doctor lingo, but it’s
important to understand the difference because there are very different ways in which you
treat it. When an ear has a bacterial infection we call it Acute Otitis Media, these are a
lot less common. The second type we call Otitis Media with effusion. These tend to be viral
Now these names don’t mean a whole lot to you, all you care about is your kid’s ear
is killing them, but it makes a big difference to your doctor. Because depending on what
the ear drum looks like gives us a good idea which is which. Ultimately it matters, because
there are significantly different treatment approaches that we take for each of them.
So why does this matter? Well, it’s important to know because antibiotics are worthless
in treating a virus. If the Ear drum is red and bulging out at you then its more likely
to be a bacterial infection and may benefit from an antibiotic. Now, if the ear is just
red and angry looking, but not bulging out, then it’s more likely to be a virus and
the antibiotic would be worthless. So red and bulging, likely needs an antibiotic, Just
a red ear drum, likely doesn’t. I’m not going to go into depth today on
the dangers of overusing antibiotics, Maybe I’ll address that in another video, but
the short of it is, that the more we use antibiotics unnecessarily, the less they are going to
work when we really need them. Unfortunately, ear infections are one of the leading reasons
for unnecessary use of antibiotics. So hopefully watching this video will help you be a little
better educated as you speak to your doctor on your options for treating this.
Unfortunately, for you the patient, there really isn’t a way to know what you or your
child have without an exam. So does that mean that you need to run to
the doctor or emergency room every time your kid complains of ear pain? Thank goodness
the answer is no. So again refer to my other video about when you should be seen for an
ear infection. So what are things that you can do to help
you through this? It’s important to remember, that since most
ear infections are caused by a virus, your body will often clear it on its own. Because
of that, most of our treatments will focus on helping with the symptoms, while your body
does what it does best and fight it off on its own.
So the most effective thing you can start with in controlling the symptoms are simply
taking some over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or Tylenol.
Both can be very effective in controlling the pain and symptoms related to an ear infection.
Just follow the dosing instructions on the bottle. Now, some may not know this, but often
we can get better relief by alternating both medications. You may want to talk to your
doctor about this, but to my patients, I often will recommend taking each one every 6 hours.
That means that if you stagger them, you can alternate taking one every 3 hours. Taking
something more consistently, usually gives pretty good pain control, and will control
symptoms better. The next thing that can provide some relief
is using a warm compress or heating pad and alternating that with a cold compress or ice.
Be careful not to leave heating pads on for a long time, but applying heat to the area
can oftentimes provide some relief. You can then alternate this with a cold pack or ice,
to help control the pain and symptoms related to the infection.
Those are a couple things that we know work through different studies, but there are plenty
of things that are done and used that can provide some relief. Here are a few ideas
simple ideas that can help. One thing you can do is have your child sleep
with the affected ear up. We can use gravity to help relieve some of the pressure.
Also you can apply some gentle downward and outward traction on the ear lobe while they
are laying on their back. This won’t cure the infection but it can help relieve some
of the built up pressure. Some things many may advocate using are putting
things like * Garlic oil
* Tea tree oil * Ginger
* Olive oil In the ear,
A few drops of body temperature oil in the ear can provide some relief. I wouldn’t
count on it to cure a true bacterial infection but it won’t hurt and can provide some relief.
Although there aren’t any great studies showing these things are effective, they aren’t
felt to be harmful. There are plenty of people out there that will swear by them. But remember,
most ear infections are caused by a virus and will get better on their own anyway. So
just because you didn’t go into the doctor and get an antibiotic and it got better it
doesn’t necessarily mean that it was from these treatments.
The only caution that I would give in trying some of these alternatives, is that if there
is drainage coming from the ear, I would recommend getting that checked out before you start
putting things in there. If you have a ruptured ear drum, you don’t want to be putting drops
in there. A couple things that I do recommend against,
are ear candles and even worse Fire cones. This is where you use a candle in the ear
or a rolled up piece of newspaper in the ear and light it on fire. This has been looked
at, and has not been shown to be effective, and really can be quite dangerous.
The most important thing to remember about any of the home remedies is that if your symptoms
persist or are getting worse after a couple days then go in and get seen.
Now last thing that I want to talk about and is maybe the most important. What are some
things that you can do to prevent your kids from getting them in the first place?
May I suggest * Get your kids vaccinated for both flu and
pneumonia and the bacteria hemophillius influenza. These are standard common childhood immunizations.
* Wash your hands and teach your kids to wash hands frequently
* Get rid of the constant use of pacifier- In one study it showed that elimination of
pacifier use decreased ear infections by 1/3 * Don’t give infants bottles to sleep with-Besides
dental problems also gives increased risk for ear infections
* Stop smoking-smoke exposure for your kids increases risk of ear infections
* Breast Feed your baby at least 6 months preferably to a year
We’ll that’s about all I wanted to share today about ear infections. Before I go, I
want you to remember these simple take home points:
First, most ear infections are viral and don’t need to be treated.
Second, try and control the symptoms and if that doesn’t work or the symptoms persist
for a few days then go to the doctor. And finally, remember to take those steps
that we just reviewed to prevent ear infections from happening in the first place.
So there you have it, hopefully you’ve learned something today about ear infections and now
feel more comfortable about how to deal with them.
Remember to check out the notes below to review the things that we talked about.
Also, Go ahead and comment below as well. What are your experiences with ear infections?
What things have you been found to be helpful? Are there things that you have found useful
that we may have not discussed yet? There are certainly a lot of things out there that
can be helpful so let us know what you think OK so if you find this information helpful,
don’t forget to like, subscribe and share this video with your friends and check out
our other videos on this channel. This is key to me being able to continue to create
this kind of content for you. Remember my purpose in sharing this information
for you is to educate you in things that you can think about in trying to make decisions
in your own health. In no way should be taken as direct medical advice to you in your own
situation. Please consult your own doctor for concerns regarding your specific situation.
So until next time, This is FamilyMed with Dr. Erik Richardson, remember to please take
care of your body because it’s the only one you have!