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Ear infection that will not heal

(11 Posts)
DoubleNegativePanda Mon 15-Aug-11 05:11:38

DH has had an ear infection for six weeks. He's seen his doctor and then two others as it got worse after his primary had treated.

He's had three different types of antibiotic ear drops, each time scrupulously finished. He wants it to go away badly. Taken oral antibiotics once (augmentin?). Has used an nose-spray they prescribed as the latest doctor said his eustacian (sp) tubes aren't draining right due to sinus blockage. They have flushed his ear with water, saline, hydrogen peroxide and something else I don't remember the name of.

He is still with diminished hearing, pain and drainage. The drained varies from clear to opaque to straight up pus. He blew his nose earlier and said he could hear whistling which makes me think perhaps the eardrum ruptured?

Has anyone in the medical field dealt with something like this that simply would not bow down to antibiotics? Should we seek yet another opinion?

I appreciate any input you have. I am totally stumped and feel so badly for him.

NunTheWiser Mon 15-Aug-11 05:43:23

He needs to see an ENT specialist. Ask your GP for an urgent referral.

DoubleNegativePanda Tue 16-Aug-11 17:29:34

Thanks for reaffirming what I've been telling him, NunTheWiser.

Of course, he has not taken your sage advice but has had a prescription for more eardrops called in. I've given my opinion, had that opinion seconded, thirded...

I wash my hands of it. He's a numpty adult and can make foolish choices on his own.

cheesetoastie Tue 16-Aug-11 19:22:51

My ds is prone to ear infections and we have found that ear drops are useless (in the main the GPs don't bother prescribing them either). They do swab his ear to get the bacteria identified and normally start off with amoxicillin (which doesn't normally touch it), amoxiclav is normally effective.
If there is pus coming from his ear I would think that the ear drum is ruptured as the pus is created on the other side of the eardrum. My ds has grommets so the pus escapes via them. One of the GPs that saw him with his last infection pointed out that some of the pus is basically snot - since the nose and ear are connected so if he is congested in his nose then he will have gunk coming out his ear.

griphook Wed 17-Aug-11 23:20:59


I had a ruptured ear drum, it took them ages to find out as there was too much pus inthe way to see the ear drum. i had to go on a long course of ab's, not drops as the drops are wet and therefore can make it worse as it moist and bactria love warm moist areas. As cheese says amoxiclav is the best. Once you can see the ear drum, they can work out the best way to treat it on a long term basis

timetosmile Wed 17-Aug-11 23:24:59

surely there must be another GP there you could see?
Don't worry about looking like a demanding Mum...that's what mums have to do, sometimes.
Try "So are you refusing to refer me to an ENT surgeon, then?" and see where that gets you, if you are really concerned

Jackaroo Thu 18-Aug-11 02:47:33

Hi Panda

You're poor DH - it's hard being a DH who hates fussing/getting anything done that might cause other people to get stroppy :-)
I will bullet point because waffle is easier to read bullet-pointed...

1 - Co-amoxiclav and Augmentin are one and the same. Yes, it's a great choice, usually sees off everything that straight amoxicillin won't. (augmentin is amoxycillin + clavucinic acid), but you need to know what you're fighting, and you need a serious course..maybe 7-10 days not 5 for something like this. depending on whether it seemed to help at all to start with.
2 - IF it's still just otitis externa (outer ear infection) then the drops might keep it in check, but not completely heal it, esp. if it's an unusual bug (e.g. DS2 got haemophilus for some reason, and that needed systemic/oral antib's. )
3 - Drops will not work if it's a middle ear infection,and yes that would mean the ear drum has burst. It should heal by itself, but maybe it can't if the infection keeps going.

Qa - did the Augmentin have any effect? did it seem to calm down then fire up again? How many days, what sort of dosage? was his compliance good? Did he take them right way, and finish the course?
Qb - have the drops had any effect - as/above?
Qc - Does he have a family history of difficult ears?
Qd - do you know what prompted it - swimming? flying? general cold?

Possible solutions:
i - He definitely needs a swab doing. I hvae had a life time of ear problems - although mine are as a result of a kind of benign ear tumour, for which persistent ear infections are an indication (I am NOT suggesting he has this!). The swabs can come back with surprising results. IE my latest came back not sensitive to very strong/interesting antibiotics that they sometimes use, but sensitive to amoxycillin. this is just to explain why it might be useful. It may need a different group/type/approach, a 10 day course of augmentin, a short course of a cefelexin, bactrim, which is old-fashioned, but can be taken for a long time. One of my DSs (poor little sods have both inherited my ears) had bactrim for 28 days. None of this should be tried (imvho) without a swab first.
ii - If it makes him feel better, you could just write a note on his before, for him to sign (I know, I know) and hand it in to the surgery saying he didn't want to take up any more valuable appt. spots, but would appreciate a referral to the ENT clinic. Mine used to run an emergency clinic couple of times a week - you sometimes sit for ages, but you get to see people who know their stuff. If he's been suffering this long, it will be worth it.
iii - most useful would be for GP to do the swab, and then give him the referral. That way the results will be back by the time he sees the ENT.
iii - This is for you - tell him that if he can't stand it any longer, then do something about it - ie ask for one of the above - but if he won't, you don't want to hear another word about it!

and (in a shouty voice) stop blowing your nose Panda DH!! If you must, Gently blow one side at a time.

Hope you get some respite soon., Both of you.

MojitoTime Thu 18-Aug-11 08:10:53

When I was a teenager I had an ear infection for ages - after a few lots of antibiotics, it had got so bad that it was completely swollen inside and there was eczema all over the outside of the ear. I had to be sent to the hospital as an emergency case. They used a mini hoover thing ( size of a needle) to clear all the debris from inside, and then they inserted a wick that had been soaked in ointment, to be kept in for a week I think. Also had cream for the external. I can't remember if it was at this point or before, but they swabbed it and discovered that is was not a bacterial infection, but a fungal one, which do not respond to antibiotics and are notoriously hard to get rid of. In fact I was told that antibiotic sprays/ drops will make it worse. Also, something that no doctor told me until I was at the hospital, you must keep the ear dry so put a piece of cotton wool or a sanitised earplug in when you shower etc. Hope that makes sense and hope your DH is better soon - I've been there and I know how awful it can be!

perfumedlife Fri 19-Aug-11 01:53:57

Glad I found this, I've had the exact same problem for six weeks. I now smell fish coming from my ear confused Can't hear, have tinitus, pain, am beginning to taste vile stuff going down my throat. Had antibiotic drops, nada, had ears syringed, some wax came out, then afer a flight last week it started up again, immense pain.

I am sick to death of it, just so aware of my ear all the time. Been keeping it dry in the shower but it still oozes stuff.

Think I need to push for an ENT referral too.

Hope your dh goes back op, I know I'm driving everyone demented moaning about it. Mine started after the swimming pool so I know what caused it.

DoubleNegativePanda Fri 19-Aug-11 04:17:18

Well! So many responses since the last time I've been on. Sorry to have gone missing; I've been down with a nasty headache but better now.

It's very late here and I've got to work in the morning. I hope you don't mind if I respond to your great advice tomorrow smile

timetosmile Fri 19-Aug-11 22:50:20

oops..thought it was ds not dh!
Not wanting to alarm you (cos it's pretty unusual) do you want to google cholesteatoma and see if the symptoms fit?
Would def want to get an ENT opinion if it doesn't settle

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