According to the Mayo Clinic, “Middle ear infections, also known as otitis media, are among the most common illnesses of early childhood.” Ear infections are commonly treated with antibiotics but in some cases they need to be treated with steroids.
Ear infections are caused by blockage in the middle ear. Most of the time the blockage is a result of the common cold virus, which in turn irritates the eardrum, causing inflation and infection.
Steroids are not commonly used to treat an ear infection unless there is concern of water buildup around the ear drum. Steroids are used in this case because they have a powerful anti-inflammatory ability to reduce any swelling while antibiotics kill the actual infection.
The most common short-term side effects with using steroids for an ear infection are increased strength and excitability. Long-term effects can cause liver tumors, jaundice and high blood pressure.
When steroids are prescribed for use in an ear infection, they are combined with antibiotics for 10 to 14 days.
If there are no visible, physical improvements within the first two to three days of use, an individual should see his doctor. If a person experiences any severe side effects such as dizziness, fainting spells or shortness of breath, he should discontinue use of the steroid immediately and get medical attention.