Next time you take your child to the doctor for an ear infection, he or she may tell you to go home without an antibiotic.
Ear infections are common tearjerkers for kids. They're caused by bacteria that create pus and fluid as the body tries to fight off the infection, and the pressure that develops behind the ear drum is what causes terrible pain.
So far, the regular treatment has been antibiotics. In fact, 10 million prescriptions a year are written for ear infections in kids. And that's why two major medical groups are proposing now that even though a child appears to have an ear infection, hold off on antibiotics for three days to see if the child's immune system can fight off the infection on its own without antibiotics. Dr. Richard Rosenfeld is an author of the new recommendations. He says instead of antibiotics, give kids what they really need at first and that's pain relief.
"They need Ibuprofen, Analgesics that night, before bedtime, and they sleep better. Often the pain medication must be continued for 24-36 hours. That is the mainstay of making kids better," explains Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, otolyngologist.
The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that the new guidelines don't rule out the use of antibiotics for all children with ear infections. For example, kids who are running a fever over 102 or babies under age two, he says, should still get antibiotics rather than follow the three day waiting period.