Earache (otitis media)

What doctors say*

* Official guidelines from NICE.

Should antibiotics be used? >

Not suitable for antibiotics at all unless generally unwell or with bacterial infections or other complications.

Likely duration if untreated >

most within 3 days – some up to 8 days

Conventional self-care advice >

  • regular paracetamol or ibuprofen for pain (right dose for age or weight at the right time and maximum doses for severe pain)
  • evidence suggests that decongestants or anti- histamines do not help symptoms

Opportunities for antibiotic alternatives >

for most sufferers

Note: to help reduce earache it is worth also considering remedies on the Common cold page. Both conditions could be improved by helping reduce congestion in the airways.

Traditional home remedies worth trying

Knowledge and best practice in the health field are constantly changing.  Each person and illness is also unique and no general information can anticipate every circumstance, nor be appropriate for every reader. Each individual case is best assessed in person by a qualified health advisor.

In the case of remedies or other products, users should read the label carefully for detailed information about safe use and in the case of natural products should choose responsible manufacturers with independently assured quality standards and safety monitoring procedures.

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