The best treatment for an ear infection depends on whether the infection is caused by a virus or bacterial organism. Antibiotics do not kill viruses, so they are only used to treat infections caused by bacteria. The only way to treat a viral ear infection is to treat the symptoms, according to WebMD.
Ear infections may cause pain, a feeling of fullness in the ear, temporary hearing loss and discharge from the ear canal, according to eMedicineHealth.com. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are used to control the pain. In some cases, decongestants may be used to reduce pressure and eliminate feelings of fullness in the ear. People with high blood pressure should not take decongestants without talking to a doctor first.
Anyone with an ear infection should get plenty of rest and avoid scuba diving and other activities that might increase the amount of pressure in the ear canal. Keeping the head elevated may also relieve pressure, according to Parenting magazine. If a child has ear pain that is not controlled by over-the-counter medications, applying a heating pad or warm, moist towel to the side of the head reduces discomfort.
Several antibiotics are used to treat bacterial ear infections, but MedlinePlus says that amoxicillin is often the first choice. Clindamycin, azithromycin and cefdinir are some of the other available options.