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Category Archives: Ear Infections

About 75% of children will suffer from an ear infection before they reach one year of age.  It is a common childhood ailment that is often treated inappropriately.

Many ear infections are caused by viruses and resolve on their own without antibiotic treatment.  For every 15 children treated with antibiotics only one will have resolution within 48 hours.  Also antibiotics can cause some adverse effects such as diarrhea, skin rashes, allergic responses, and an increase in antibiotic resistance.  Most children who have ear infections can be treated with “watchful waiting”.

In general healthy children six months and older can be treated with “watchful waiting”.  Children younger than this and those with other ailments should be treated with an antibiotic.  If the oral temperature exceeds 39˚C, there is severe ear pain, or your child is extremely ill, an antibiotic should also be considered.  You can also ask your doctor for an antibiotic prescription to be used if your child is not improving on their own within 48 to 72 hours.  (This way you don’t have to make a repeat trip to the doctor).

If your child requires an antibiotic take careful note of the kind of medication and the dose being given.  The drug of choice is Amoxicillin given at a high dose (80mg/kg/day) divided twice a day for five days.  (If your child is less than two, or has had frequent infections, a ten day course should be given).  For children with a penicillin allergy, clarithromycin (Biaxin) can also be given.  There are other choices as well but the above are the most common starting place.  If there is no improvement after two days of antibiotics the medication should be changed.  If you are seeing a different physician make sure you inform them what type of antibiotic your child has had, and what dose they were on.

All children complaining of ear pain can be treated with ibuprofen (Advil), and/or acetaminophen (Tylenol).  This will help to lessen any fever and reduce the pain being caused by the infection.

To help reduce the risk of ear infections it is important to use frequent hand washing, and washing of toys, and linins on a regular basis.  Breastfeeding until three months of age can also reduce the risk of infection in a child’s first year.  Limiting pacifier use and exposure to tobacco smoke can help, as well as limiting daycare in children less than one year of age. It is also important to have your child vaccinated for influenza and pneumococcal infections.

Luckily most kid’s ear infections will improve on their own in seven to ten days.  Symptomatic treatment of pain and fever is all that is really needed.  However, if you feel your child is very ill, make sure you see a doctor and use the antibiotic prescribed appropriately.