Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Are there any topical antibiotics for an ear infection?"

ZocdocAnswersAre there any topical antibiotics for an ear infection?


I have an ear infection and got prescribed some antibiotics but they are driving my stomach crazy and I don't think I can deal with it. Are there any topical antibiotics available for an ear infection?


The answer to your question depends entirely on what type of ear infection you have. There are two general types of ear infections that are common. The first type is something called otitis externa. This is an infection of the ear canal itself. It is often caused by swimming (condition called swimmers ear). The symptoms of otitis externa include ear pain and fever. This type of infection can be treated with antibiotic ear drops. It is also more common in adults. The second type of ear infection is a middle ear infection called otitis media. This is an infection that occurs behind the ear drum. It is the typical "ear infection" that kids get when they have a cold. The symptoms include fever, ear pain, a sense of fullness in the ear, and some hearing loss. Since the infection is behind the ear drum, topical antibiotics cannot reach the infection site and therefore, oral antibiotics must be used. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can review with you which type of ear infection you have. Your doctor can also provide you with a different antibiotic (topical if appropriate, or a different oral antibiotic) for your infection. Good luck.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.