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peds doc
RE: Ear infection and meningitis...
I've been doing primary care pediatrics now for almost 25 years and have never seen a case of meningitis related to ear infection except for one case - I used to take care of a young man who actually got multiple (about 10) cases of pneumococcal meningitis. Multiple huge workups eventually led to the theory that the source might be one of his ears - he had had some trauma as a young man. Nuclear tracers injected into his spinal fluid eventually showed up in the middle ear and an ENT/neurosurgeon went in and patched it up. Other than that, I've never seen it. Could it happen? Sure. But it would be really rare.

I did see a kid from Central America with a brain abscess many many years ago when I was a med student - he had apparently had chronic, untreated ear infections for months or more, had developed mastoiditis which then progressed into his central nervous system. Very nasty. Only case of that I ever saw, and this was a poor, undocumented family that was too poor and too scared to seek care until the poor kid was near death.

Docs are being told to try and reduce antibiotic use as a public health measure to reduce antibiotic resistance. Most docs, though, would still treat draining ears, especially if associated with a lot of pain, with oral antibiotics. We do in my practice, anyway.

I guess one question would be why you would go to an ENT for an ear infection, unless you had already had a lot of ear problems? Ear infections are bread and butter for simple primary care docs like me - not everything needs a specialist. My advice would be just to call him back up if you are still having problems. He will probably phone in a prescription for you. If not, just go see a simple old family doc.

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