Health Team

Child ear infections can get antibiotics sometimes

Posted January 13, 2011

Millions of children have ear infections each year, and whether to give them antibiotics can be a tough decision for doctors and parents.

Evidence from two new studies, though, shows that antibiotics might be the best bet for some younger children.

Doctors looked at hundreds of children between 6 and 35 months old who had ear infections.

Among children who took antibiotics, symptoms were far less severe and cleared up faster, according to the research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Doctors, though, warn that there are side effects to consider.

"We also get a lot more diarrhea, yeast infections, thrush, diaper rash, allergies and resistant bugs in return, so it's a balance. It's a choice," said Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, a pediatric ear-nose-and-throat doctor with Long Island College Hospital.

Child ear infections can get antibiotics sometimes Child ear infections can get antibiotics sometimes

Ear infections are the most common reason that children end up at the doctor's. Three out of four children will have at least one ear infection by the time they are 3.

Rosenfeld said that the general rule of thumb is that children under age 2 with severe ear infections should get antibiotics, but most others should watch and wait.

"Most ear infections get better on their own, no matter what you do," he said.


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  • JAT Jan 18, 2011

    Why didn't they just ask the moms? We know what helps our kids. I once had a doc tell me the story about how antibiotics didn't work and it might not even be an ear infection; knowing full well it was, I went straight to another doctor. Moms know. The first doctor was young and stylish and childless. She'll learn one day.

  • hihuwatlu Jan 17, 2011

    anyone who refuses to treat an ear infection with antibiotics must not have ever experienced the pain they can cause.

  • amynmurray Jan 14, 2011

    And some ear infections, if left alone without antibiotics, can cause permanent damage to hearing...

  • boatrokr Jan 14, 2011

    Ear infections should be carefully monitored if antibiotics are not prescribed right away.