What Medications Are Available for the Inner Ear?

Updated on February 17, 2021

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There are a variety of medications available for treating issues with the inner ear. While certain things, like an ear infection, may be treatable through oral antibiotics, most inner ear issues use medications with an otic delivery system, meaning it is directly inserted into the ear. This type of medication can come in the form of drops or an injection. 

Here are a few of these types of treatments and how they’re administered.


If you’re suffering from pain and inflammation in the ear, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid. To administer steroids to the ear, you may be given a product like hydrocortisone-acetic acid drops, which is often a treatment for swimmer’s ear, to administer yourself as directed. Alternatively, you may be offered a product that uses a platform like Unisun for intratympanic delivery, which is when a long, thin needle is used to go through the ear canal and ear drum to inject medication into the middle ear, to be absorbed by the inner ear. While this may sound frightening and painful, it’s actually quite a painless procedure.

Steroids may be prescribed for vertigo or ear infections. They may also use steroids to improve tinnitus, although there is no official cure for this ailment.


A local anesthetic used to relieve ear pain is called an otic anesthetic. While many people think of anesthesia as something you take via inhalation or through an IV before surgery, or something the dentist uses to numb your mouth before pulling a tooth, otic anesthetics can be given with drops that go right into your ear. This will help relieve pain while your doctor deals with the source of the pain.


Cerumenolytics are used to soften ear wax so it can be more easily removed from the ear. Earwax, also called cerumen, is common in every ear, but may need to be removed if overproduction is causing issues such as ear pain or hearing loss. This type of medication is often over-the-counter ear drops and can be administered at home. However, be sure to consult a doctor before pursuing this on your own. Overcleaning the ear can result in an ear infection. Remember to avoid cotton swabs and ear candles, as they can make your situation worse. If the situation is too dire for you to handle at home, your doctor may remove the wax in-office with ear irrigation.

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