Steroids for Ear Infections

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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.

Steroids for Ear Infections
Steroids for Ear Infections (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Cause

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.

Ear infections are caused by blockage in the middle ear.
Ear infections are caused by blockage in the middle ear. (Image: Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Purpose

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.

Side Effects

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.

Long-term effects can cause liver tumors, jaundice and high blood pressure.
Long-term effects can cause liver tumors, jaundice and high blood pressure. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Time Frame

When steroids are prescribed for use in an ear infection, they are combined with antibiotics for 10 to 14 days.

Antibiotics
Antibiotics (Image: John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Considerations

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.

If there are no visible, physical improvements within the first two to three days of use, an individual should see his doctor.
If there are no visible, physical improvements within the first two to three days of use, an individual should see his doctor. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

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