In many cases, fluid buildup in the ears that's associated with middle ear infections may not require treatment, as most infections resolve on their own, notes Mayo Clinic. An ear infection should be monitored while waiting for it to go away, and pain symptoms associated with an ear infection may be alleviated with a few treatment options, such as the use of compresses and pain relievers. When there is no improvement in ear infection symptoms and in cases involving small children, then antibiotics may be necessary.
Fluid buildup in the ear can occur when the Eustachian tube becomes blocked. This can cause a middle ear infection that leads to symptoms such as pain, hearing problems and ear fullness in adults. In small children, symptoms can also include crying, fever and irritability. Although many ear infections tend to go away without the use of antibiotics, there are cases in which these medications are needed, such as when the patient is younger than 6 months and has a fever, or there is no improvement in the condition within a 48-hour period, states the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus.
To treat the pain symptoms of an ear infection, a warm compress or water bottle may be used on the affected ear. A doctor may also recommend either prescription ear drops for pain or pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Although it can take a few days for the symptoms to get better, it can take up to 2 weeks for an ear infection to go away, states Mayo Clinic.