Can I nip this ear infection in the bud?
February 8, 2019 11:27 AM   Subscribe

I think I might be coming down with an ear infection. I would like to prevent it getting a toehold.

About an hour and a half ago, I started having pain on the left side of my throat and in the area between my throat and my left ear. I had some tea and it abated a bit, but I would really like to clear this up rather than have it get worse.

Suggestions? I’ve only had a couple ear infections before, so I don’t know what staves them off. Thanks!
posted by delight to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Nasal (saline) spray!
posted by Ms. Next at 12:49 PM on February 8, 2019

I don't know if it's too late for you or not, but you could try decongesting. Swelling, inflammation and mucus in the eustachian tubes from an upper respiratory infection or allergy can block them, causing the accumulation of fluids in the middle ear. A bacterial or viral infection of this fluid is usually what produces the symptoms of an ear infection. Ear infections are more common in children, in part, because their eustachian tubes are narrower and more horizontal — factors that make them more difficult to drain and more likely to get clogged.

The tea probably helped, but if you really want to nip this in the bud, you may want to try a decongestant medicine too. I find that only the stuff with pseudoephedrine helps, not phenylephrine, so check your medication package carefully. In Canada, the UK, and the US, you have to ask for pseudoephedrine from the pharmacist, but you don't need a prescription. I don't use it often, but I do when I'm congested because I have small Eustachian tubes and am prone to ear infections. I don't use the decongestant spray though, to avoid rebound congestion. (Note: that's not the same as the saline nasal spray Ms. Next is recommending, which is just saline and perfectly fine!)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:09 PM on February 8, 2019

Yeah, this is when I break out a very specific routine: real behind-the-counter pseudoephedrine taken with an nsaid if possible every 4 hours through the first day and night (which may require some diphenhydramine or doxylamine succinate OTC sleep medication, same as you'll find in nyquil, and sleep somewhat elevated/semi-reclined for drainage). Then, the next morning and through the day stay upright and take Mucinex, use nasal rinse, take a couple warm showers if you need to for comfort and drainage. Blow your nose, do not sniff, when the need arises. You want that junk going out, not in.

Do NOT put heat on your ear. Heat = expansion, you want the swelling reduced in your Eustachian tubes **and the nodes/glands under/around your jaw** (sometimes what feels like an earache is actually those swelling against your jawbone and Eustachian tubes). You can drink hot liquids if it helps keep drainage from parking along your throat and starting trouble there, but use gentle cool compresses on your ear and jaw. Drink lots of liquids, try to take it easy a day or two.

From there, unless you are having increased facial pain from congestion, try to stick to the Mucinex/extended-release guafenesin during the day and pseudoephedrine at night. Never lay completely down - this sucks, but this is how you keep it from going to bronchitis and should improve the ear situation too.

If I start this protocol (along with allergy meds, if it's that kind of season) as soon as I wake up with the sore throat on the first day, I usually clear it in 2 days.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:47 PM on February 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I’m just on the way to the pharmacy to get what my doctor prescribed me for similar symptoms but after actually after looking in my ear - pseudoephedrine and amoxicillin.
You should see your doctor.
posted by w0mbat at 3:58 PM on February 8, 2019

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