Middle ear infections, also known as otitis media, are one of the most common infections among children, affecting 3 in 4 kids by the time they are three years old. Concerned parents are often eager to go to the doctor for antibiotics right away. But are antibiotics always necessary?
What parents may not be aware of is that many ear infections go away on their own. In fact, 70% of children get better on their own within 2 to 3 days. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new set of guidelines earlier this year on how to treat ear infections, recommending that physicians adopt a “wait and see” approach in most cases, and only to prescribe antibiotics if the child’s condition doesn’t improve within 2 days.
These new guidelines also help reduce unnecessary antibiotic use, since the overuse or misuse of antibiotics has led to the development of superbugs and infections that are getting harder to cure. Antibiotics can also cause upset stomach and allergic reactions as well as disrupt intestinal microflora- they kill off the good bacteria, probiotics, which are a crucial factor for good health.
Included in the guidelines are ways parents can protect their children from ear infections in the first place, emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months and keeping kids away from cigarette smoke.
According to the guidelines, a child with otitis media should get antibiotics under the following circumstances:
– when the child is showing severe symptoms such as pain and swelling for at least 48 hours
– when the child has a fever higher than 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit)
– when the child’s eardrum has ruptured
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