Ear pain can be due to injury/trauma to the ear or due to infection. There are 2 main types of ear infections that travelers may encounter. The first is called otitis media, which is an infection of the middle ear, or the area behind the eardrum. This can cause throbbing, sharp, or stabbing pain to the ear, which may radiate down into the throat, feeling of ear fullness, muffled hearing, fever and sometimes, if severe, a yellow discharge can drain from the ear. Another kind of infection of the ear, is called otitis externa, this is an infection of the outer ear canal, and is called “swimmer’s ear” as it is commonly caused by water that remains in the ear after swimming with allows a moist environment for bacterial growth. Symptoms of otitis externa include, itching and discomfort of the outer ear and canal, redness of the skin of the ear, pain when you tug on the earlobe, draining yellow fluid.
Ear infections can spread past the ear and into the bones behind the ear within the skull. The bony bump behind the ear, called the mastoid process, can become infected (mastoiditis). This is a serious infection requiring emergent medical attention. Ear infections can spread to the brain, causing meningitis. Ear infections can also spread to the skin of the ear and the skin surrounding the ear, in a serious infection called malignant otitis externa.
Otitis media is treated with oral antibiotics, most commonly amoxicillin or amoxicillin-clavulanate. Otitis externa is treated with ear drops, called ofloxacin.
Seek immediate medical care if you have any of the following:
If you have
You may have
amoxicillin-clavulanate 875 mg-125mg twice daily for 7 days
Note: if amoxicillin is available, consider using amoxicillin instead of amoxicillin-clavulanate
Note: if amoxicillin is unavailable or if an allergy to penicillins is present, azithromycin may be considered as an alternative. However, it is ineffective against some organisms responsible for otitis media.
If you have
You may have
ofloxacin 1 drop in the affected ear 4 times per day for 7 days
If you have
You may have
meningitis or cellulitis or mastoiditis
seek emergency medical care
Ofloxacin is an antibiotic. Ofloxacin drops can be used to treat eye or ear infections.
Amoxicillin-clavulanate (generic for Augmentin) is an antibiotic. It can be used to treat bite wounds, skin infections, strep throat and pneumonia. This medication should be taken with food.
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