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 Illnesses and Antibiotic Resistance

Ear Infections

Ear infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses.

On this page:
Will antibiotics help?
What can you do if you or your child have an ear infection?
More about ear infections

Will antibiotics help?

  • Sometimes.
  • Ear infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses, so not all ear infections need antibiotics.
  • Your health care provider will need to assess your symptoms and determine whether antibiotics are needed.

What can you do if you or your child have an ear infection?

  • Apply warm or cold packs to the outer ear area.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Keep your head propped up when resting.
  • Keep your home smoke-free.
  • Ask your doctor about topical analgesic eardrops for pain.
  • Take acetaminophen* for muscle aches or fever.
    • Do not give a child aspirin.
  • Decongestants* may help if you have a stuffy nose.
    * Follow package directions for age & dose or your health care providers’ instructions.

More about ear infections:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians have released new guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Acute Otitis Media (AOM) (PDF: 102kb/32 pages).
    These guidelines recommend giving parents of select children with AOM the option of waiting 48-72 hours before starting antibiotics. Great news for appropriate antibiotic use!