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Types of Infection

Infections in the ear can be caused by bacteria, moisture, a virus or fluid buildup. Most ear infections are painful and cause a temporary loss of hearing in the affected ear. For bacterial infections antibiotics work very well and usually start to provide relief within a day. The most common types of antibiotics given for ear infections are drops and oral medication. Depending on the type of antibiotics prescribed it can take a week to 15 days for the infection to go away; that's why it's important to take the entire prescription even if you feel better in a day or two.

Outer Ear

For an outer ear infection, also known as swimmers ear or otitis externa, you can expect relief in a couple of days but make sure to finish the entire prescribed treatment and follow any instructions from your doctor. With swimmers ear the normal treatment is antibiotic, steroid, acidic or anti-fungal drops. If the ear canal is full of wax or other debris the doctor should clean this out so the drops can work more effectively. Most doctors will advise that you don't swim, fly, wear earplugs, or get any water in the ear canal until the infection is totally cleared up.

Middle Ear

For a middle ear infection. also known as otitis media, you can expect relief from antibiotics in a day or two but it's important to continue using the medication as prescribed to avoid the return of the infection. If the infection is caused by a virus then the antibiotics won't have any effect; the infection will have to take its course and will normally clear up with out any medical treatment. If your body becomes resistant to antibiotics and you experience reoccurring middle ear infections then most doctors will recommend some form of ear surgery.