Kids & Ear Infections: When Are Antibiotics Necessary?


When a child complains of ear pain, many parents call their pediatrician’s offices, expecting to receive a prescription. But to protect your health, these days we pediatricians are more cautious about doling out antibiotics. That’s because using them too often can lead to the creation of dangerous super-bugs: Antibiotics are taken so frequently in the United States that the bacteria have outsmarted drugs, morphing into antibiotic-resistant strains. As a result, physicians are trying to write prescriptions only when necessary.

So the next time you think your child may be suffering from an ear infection, be sure to have a discussion with your pediatrician. If your kid is younger than 2, has a fever or is experiencing significant pain, your doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics. But if he has a mild ear infection, your pediatrician will probably recommend an over-the-counter pain medication or eardrops for a few days, because in many cases, the infection goes away on its own.

To protect yourself -- and your family -- from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, you should take these smart steps:

1. Always see your pediatrician. While it’s tempting to ask your physician to phone in a prescription, you should always go into the office to make sure your child is suffering from an infection that requires antibiotics -- and not another ailment that requires another form of treatment.

2. Finish the entire course of antibiotics. Although your little one may be feeling better, he needs to take his entire prescription to wipe out any traces of bacteria in his body.

3. Never borrow a prescription. Don’t give one child’s antibiotics to another. You may help your son feel a little better in the short run, but you’re upping his risk for an antibiotic-resistant infection later on.

Photo by Paloma A. on Unsplash

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