If you have sore ears you may be wondering ‘Do I need ear drops for ear infection?’ The answer depends on a few things. Firstly, there is more than one type of ear infection. The commonest types are outer and middle ear infections, known medically as otitis externa and otitis media. Signs and symptoms of otitis externa include;
Pain, although more likely to be discomfort
Usually more painful than otitis externa
Reduced hearing, sounds like your head is underwater
Sudden severe pain then discharge means ruptured eardrum
Both of these often occur at the same time, sometimes with one more prominent than the other. Ear drops are useful for outer ear infection, not so much for middle ear infection which needs tablet antibiotics in order to heal. If signs of both middle and outer ear infections are present then you may need drops and tablets antibiotics to make it better. Drops usually contain an antibiotic such as gentamicin, along with a steroid such as hydrocortisone and an antifungal such as acetic acid. Sofradex is an example of this.
All ear drops which will help are prescription only so you will need to visit your doctor in order for them to be prescribed. You will need an ear examination to establish whether or not you have a middle or outer ear infection.
Otitis externa is often caused by swimming in the sea or pool, when it is called swimmers’ ear. This can be prevented by wearing waterproof ear plugs when you swim. Ours are ideal as they are super comfortable and antibacterial, as well as being connected on a cord so you won’t lose them.
If you have a sudden severe pain in your ear, followed by discharge and relief of the pain, you have probably perforated your eardrum. This happens in middle ear infection when the pressure behind the eardrum reaches the point where the drum bursts, letting the pus out through your ear and down your neck. This usually relieves the pain, and treats the infection by letting air into the middle ear space. It is important to visit your doctor for an ear examination to have a look at your drum and see if there is any damage. They will usually follow you up in 6 weeks time to check for healing.
This article is not to be taken as medical advice, please visit your GP if you have a problem with your ears.
Dr Toby Bateson writing for ZenPlugs Ltd