Chicago Health | Homepage
The Kid’s Doctor: Not all earaches require antibiotics

The Kid’s Doctor: Not all earaches require antibiotics

By Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Parents are so SICK of their children being SICK and I must agree … it is time for everyone to stop coughing and sniffling and get well. And that means fewer ear infections, as well.

Ear infections are one of the most common reasons that a parent brings a child to their pediatrician. But, not every child that has a runny nose, cough, fever, or pulls on their ear will have an ear infection. In fact, most will not.

Here are several important facts about an ear infection:

1. A child’s ears typically do not get infected on the first day of a viral upper respiratory infection.

2. Most ear infections occur between day three and seven of a cold.

3. Most children who will develop an ear infection will have a runny nose, congestion, cough and often develop a fever.

4. It’s not unusual for a child to have a fever for the first few days of a cold, but a fever that develops three, five or seven days after the beginning of a cold may be a red flag for an acute ear infection.

The newest guidelines on ear infections are quite clear and state that the pediatrician needs to distinguish between an acute otitis media (AOM), with a bulging and opaque ear drum versus those children who simply have serous otitis media (fluid behind the ear drum). Antibiotics are only recommended for those children with an acute ear infection who are symptomatic.

For children under the age of 2, especially those in day care or school situations who have a first AOM, amoxicillin is still the recommended drug of choice. It is inexpensive and well tolerated (and tastes good too). For children with recurrent ear infections second line drugs will be used.

For a child over the age of 2 who is not running a high fever or in exquisite pain, the newer guidelines advise “watchful waiting.” Treatment begins with topical ear drops for pain and acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

In an older child, the infection is less likely to be bacterial and more likely viral and therefore will not respond to antibiotics. I will give the parents a prescription for an antibiotic, with instructions to begin it if the child seems to be worsening over several days and to call me to let me know they started the antibiotic.

Discuss options for treatment with your own pediatrician and remember that judicious use of antibiotics is very important. Not every child who pulls on their ear or who has a “bad night” of sleep will require an antibiotic. All children must be seen to decide who has an ear infection. It is not a telephone diagnosis!

(Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. “The Kid’s Doctor” TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid’s Doctor e-book, “Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today’s Teen,” is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.)

(c) 2015, KIDSDR.COM. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I have spring allergies. Every

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

By Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. Harvard Health Blog I've read medical research studies that surprised me. I've

10 tips to fight osteoporosis

10 tips to fight osteoporosis

Environmental Nutrition By Carrie Dennett, M.P.H., R.D.N., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter Because 70 percent of our bone destiny

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

May 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
April 30, 2017 May 1, 2017 May 2, 2017 May 3, 2017 May 4, 2017 May 5, 2017 May 6, 2017
May 7, 2017 May 8, 2017 May 9, 2017 May 10, 2017 May 11, 2017 May 12, 2017 May 13, 2017
May 14, 2017 May 15, 2017 May 16, 2017 May 17, 2017 May 18, 2017 May 19, 2017 May 20, 2017
May 21, 2017 May 22, 2017 May 23, 2017 May 24, 2017 May 25, 2017 May 26, 2017 May 27, 2017
May 28, 2017 May 29, 2017 May 30, 2017 May 31, 2017 June 1, 2017 June 2, 2017 June 3, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives