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Ear Infections: Best Ways to Treat at Home and Prevent that Earache

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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!