You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

New treatment guidelines for ear infections!

ear infection

There is nothing worse than seeing your child not feeling well and in pain.  Ear infections are a common childhood illness; very few children make it through childhood without at least one ear infection.  When my kids were little, an ear infection meant 10 days of the “pink medicine”.  However, since 2004 The American Academy of Pediatrics has been encouraging a watchful waiting for some children before prescribing antibiotics for ear infections.  The hope was to decrease the overuse of antibiotics and help prevent antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Ear infections can be caused by a virus or a bacteria, and in the majority of cases, a child will get better without the use of antibiotics! The only time that an antibiotic will work is if your child’s ear infection is caused by bacteria. Symptoms of an ear infection may occur after a cold and might include fever, fussiness, pain, trouble sleeping, and pulling at ears.  Just this week, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a new set of guidelines for the treatment of middle ear infections in children.  So, what is the best treatment for your child when he or she has an ear infection?

  • A child who has severe ear pain.
  • A child that has a fever above 102.2.
  • A child 6 months or younger.
  • A child that has a double ear infection and is age 2 or younger.
  • A child who has a ruptured ear drum or draining ear or bulging ear drum with fluid.

 Children who fall into these categories usually benefit from immediate antibiotic use.  Children who do not fall into one of these categories will often get better without the use of antibiotics. 

So what is your job as a parent?

  1.  Treat the discomfort.  Ear infections hurt!  Be sure that your child receives medication for the discomfort.  Acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help your child feel better.
  2.  Ask your child’s doctor to describe the ear infection…ask questions.  Remember, you are your child’s advocate!  Good doctors don’t always give antibiotics!  Sometimes watchful waiting is the best choice.
  3.  Be sure that if your child does not receive antibiotics, you and your child’s doctor have a follow up plan in place.  Within 48 to 72 hours you will need to have a visit or conversation with the doctor.  If your child is feeling better in a couple of days with medications for the discomfort, then your child’s ear is probably healing and no antibiotic is needed.  If your child’s symptoms do not improve or get worse over a couple of days, then another visit to the doctor is needed for treatment.
  4.  Amoxicillin (or the pink medicine) is still the best choice for most children with ear infections.  If your child is prescribed an antibiotic, be sure that you are giving the medication as ordered until gone!
  5.  Keep your child away from second-hand smoke…this increases the risk of ear infections!   Exclusively breastfeeding the first few months also decreases your child’s risk of an ear infection.
  6.  Be sure that your child is up to date with immunizations.  The HIB vaccine, Prevnar 13 vaccine, and the Flu vaccine actually reduce your child’s risk of ear infections. 

Be an informed parent and know the newest recommendations and don’t pressure your doctor for an antibiotic for every illness.  Sometimes treating the discomfort, being patient for a couple of days, and some extra cuddle time is all your child needs!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


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