How to Relieve Ear Infection Pain

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In order to relieve ear infection pain, it is important to distinguish between the two kinds of infections. Relieve your ear infection pain with tips from a practicing pediatrician in this free video on ear care.

Part of the Video Series: Ear Care & Treatments
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Video Transcript

Hi I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to talk about how to relieve ear infection pain. Now when we talk about pain from an ear infection, it helps to know what kind of ear infection we're talking about because there are at least two kinds. One, the Otitis Externa, affects the outer ear. The outer ear is everything from the Penna out here, that's the big part that sticks out of your head into the hole and down the canal to the outer part of the eardrum. Now that's referred to usually as Swimmer's Ear because it affects people whose ears stay in the water or get wet, but you don't have to swim to get an outer ear infection. The hallmark of knowing you have an outer ear infection is that it hurts when you move the Penna or poke on this little button right here, called the Tragus, that moves the tissues here in the outer ear. It's usually quite painful. The cure for an outer ear infection is usually drops consisting of antibiotics, and also some steroids usually to cut inflammation. Now if it's a really mild infection sometimes alcohol or peroxide drops will make it go away, but if it's bothering you very much, you're probably going to need a doctor to prescribe some antibiotic drops to make that go away. In the meantime of course, warm compresses may help it feel better, not touching the ear obviously, Ibuprofen which is the active ingredient in Advil and Motrin or Tylenol, Actaminophen, can be helpful as well. Remember by the way always that aspirin is not to be used in children or teenagers ever because it can cause a deadly condition called Reye Syndrome. Now another part of the ear that can hurt is the middle ear. That is the chamber filled with air that starts at the inside of the eardrum and includes all the bones that transmit sound down to the cochlea where nerves create signals out of those sound vibrations. A middle ear infection usually follows a cold or sinus infection when fluid and pus collect in the middle ear causing pain and discomfort. We've learned that treating middle ear infections with antibiotics is not always the right thing to do. We still recommend it in young children, infants and children up to age two and also in older children who have a particularly complicated or persistent ear infection but simple middle ear infections or Otitis Media, in older children we can usually leave alone. Now we can prescribe numbing drops, these go by a bunch of names, Antipyrine, Abiotic or Rowagan. What they have in common is they contain a medicine that deadens the nerves and reduces pain in that area. There are some folk remedies. Some people will put a variety of oils to push back against the eardrum. There's not a lot of data that these work very well but hey if they seem to work there's probably nothing wrong with it either. Again anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen and Advil in Motrin or Acetaminophen in Tylenol are very helpful for this pain and the best thing is time because these infections do usually get better when we wait long enough. So talking about relieving the pain from an ear infection, I'm Dr. David Hill.

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