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Antibiotic ear drops

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Ear drops that contain a type of antibiotic called a quinolone can dry up your ear and stop it leaking pus. Your doctor might prescribe a quinolone called ciprofloxacin (brand name Ciproxin). Antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause infection.

We found a summary of the research (called a systematic review) that included 14 studies. [18] The summary showed that:

However, the studies in the summary were of mixed quality. Some were small, or had problems with the design. This makes them less reliable than we'd like.

You'll probably have your ear cleaned out before you start treatment with ear drops. This is to be certain that the ear drops get through to the infected part of your ear.

You might find you get some side effects from the ear drops. These are usually mild and go away when you stop taking the drops. The studies found that if you take antibiotic ear drops, you might get:

  • Dizziness

  • Itching in your ear

  • Stinging in your ear

  • Earache

  • Yeast infections like thrush.

There is some evidence that other types of antibiotic ear drops might damage your ear, although it's not certain. [19] [20] [21] But doctors usually use quinolone ear drops to be on the safe side.

Quinolone ear drops can dry out your ear infection in the short term. But we don't know whether treatment with antibiotic ear drops helps in the long term. There's not enough research to show whether using antibiotic ear drops will make your infection go away for good, stop you getting complications, heal the hole in your eardrum, or improve your hearing.

Also, the studies all looked at adults, so we don't know how well these ear drops work for children.



These medicines are used to help your immune system fight infection. There are a number of different types of antibiotics that work in different ways to get rid of bacteria, parasites, and other infectious agents. Antibiotics do not work against viruses.


Bacteria are tiny organisms. There are lots of different types. Some are harmful and can cause disease. But some bacteria live in your body without causing any harm.

systematic reviews

A systematic review is a thorough look through published research on a particular topic. Only studies that have been carried out to a high standard are included. A systematic review may or may not include a meta-analysis, which is when the results from individual studies are put together.

For more terms related to Ear infection with discharge


For references related to Ear infection with discharge click here.
Last Updated: March 16, 2011
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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