Ear Infection

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Ear Infection Treatment Online

With Simple Online Pharmacy’s UK registered doctor and pharmacy service, you can complete an online assessment reviewed by our UK qualified doctors for ear infection treatment sent directly to your door.

The service is to treat outer ear infections also known as swimmer's ear. For middle or inner ear infections, you may need to consult a doctor in person for a physical ear examination. You can read more about the treatment options below.

Ear Infection

Ear Infection treatment options

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What is an ear infection?

An ear infection is a condition that can occur in the inner, middle or outer ear caused by bacteria or viruses. Mild to moderate ear infections will often clear on their own and can be managed with pain relief and monitoring. In more severe infections antibiotics can be prescribed to help clear the infection.

While children a generally more likely to experience ear infections than adults, they can occur in people of any age. Some people are more prone to ear infections than others meaning they will often get ear infections while others may never experience one. Usually, this predisposition is identified during childhood.

Types of ear infections

Otitis externa - Outer ear infection (swimmer’s ear)

This type of ear infection is located in the area between the eardrum and the outside of your head. It is called swimmer’s ear due to how often it is caused by water getting trapped in the ears during swimming, creating a warm moist environment where bacteria thrive and cause infection.

Otitis media - Middle ear infection

This type of ear infection is located in the area just behind the eardrum. Fluid in the middle ear can build up resulting in pressure on the eardrum and ear pain. Children are particularly susceptible to this type of infection between the ages of 6 months to 2 years as their eustachian tubes (the tube that helps drain the middle ear) are a susceptible size and shape.

Labyrinthitis - Inner ear infection

This type of ear infection is located in the area of the ear known as the labyrinth. This type of infection tends to be the result of a viral infection such as a cold or flu reaching the inner ear.

Ear infection symptoms

The symptoms of an ear infection can slightly differ based on the location of the infection however they do share some general symptoms. These include:

  • Ear pain
  • Pus-like drainage from the ear
  • Difficulty hearing (from one or both ears)
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness (particularly with inner ear infections)
  • Redness and Tenderness
  • Fever
  • A feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear

Ear infection causes

The most common cause of ear infections is water becoming trapped in the ear. This creates the ideal warm and moist environment for bacteria to grow and thrive. The resulting infection is then usually an outer ear infection in the ear canal called swimmer’s ear.

A middle ear infection is usually the result of a bacterial or viral infection reaching the ear causing inflammation. The immune system moves to clear the infection resulting in swelling and fluid buildup that overwhelms the ear tubes responsible for drainage, causing pressure and pain.

Similarly to a middle ear infection, an inner ear infection is often from a viral or bacterial infection getting into the inner ear through the sinus system that connects the ears, nose and throat

How to treat an ear infection

Some ear infections will not require treatment and will resolve on their own in one to two weeks. If the condition is particularly uncomfortable, painful or severe, treatment may be required. Severe ear infections should be treated as soon as possible to prevent complications such as long term hearing loss. If you are unsure about the severity of your condition, talk to your doctor.

Pain relief

Over-the-counter medicines to relieve pain are often used in mild to moderate ear infections to manage the pain and discomfort. These are medicines such as ibuprofen and paracetamol. These can both be used in combination however, anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen will be slightly more effective in controlling the inflammation in the ear if you decide to use one only pain relief medicine.

Ear infection spray

Ear infection sprays such as Otomize are combination sprays containing a corticosteroid and antibiotic. This combination is effective for outer ear infections requiring treatment as the steroid component lowers the inflammation in the area while the antibiotic helps to eliminate bacteria.

Antibiotics for ear infections

In severe ear infections, antibiotics can be used. A doctor will first need to discern whether the infection is viral or bacterial. If bacterial, antibiotics may be prescribed. The type of antibiotic will depend on clinical judgement and your condition. If prescribed a course of antibiotics for an ear infection, it is important that the full course is taken to prevent antibacterial resistance.

Preventing ear infections

There are a number of tips that can help to prevent future ear infections. These include:

  • Cover your ears when swimming or washing - covering your ears or blocking them with silicone ear putty can prevent water from entering the ear which can cause outer ear infections
  • Avoid viral infections - avoid exposure to crowded areas and wash your hands thoroughly to avoid viral infection
  • Vaccinate - keeping your vaccinations up to date can decrease the chances of a serious viral infection spreading to the ears
  • Do not put anything into the ear - specifically do not put anything into the ear that is not designed to go in there such as cotton buds. Poking around the ear with inappropriate devices can cause injury or infection.

How do I get rid of an ear infection?

Most ear infections will go away on their own after 3 to 7 days. If the infection is particularly severe antibiotics can be used to treat the infection if it is bacterial. If the infection is viral, pain medicines can be used until the ear infection resolves.

What does an ear infection feel like?

With an ear infection, you will generally feel pain, discomfort, a feeling of fulness in the ear and possibly slight pus-like discharge from the affected ear(s).

How long does an ear infection last?

Most ear infections will clear in 3 to 7 days. In particularly severe infections it may last longer. If your ear infection is not improving, consult a doctor for advice.


Tyson Wilkman, Clinical Pharmacist


Tyson Wilkman

RoleClinical Pharmacist
Qual.Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours)
AboutTyson started with Simple Online Pharmacy in 2021. He's responsible for helping review and author accurate site content. He works with our GPs to make sure all aspects of the medicines are covered.

Otomize Ear Spray

Medication Simple Online Pharmacy
Otomize Ear Spray 5ml £17.99

Ear Infection Treatment Comparison