Ear Infections (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Antibiotics can treat ear infections. But most children with ear infections get better without them. If the care you give at home relieves pain, and a child's symptoms are getting better after a few days, you may not need antibiotics.
If your child has an ear infection and appears very ill, is younger than 2, or is at risk for complications from the infection, your doctor will likely give antibiotics right away. For children ages 2 and older, many doctors wait for a few days to see if the ear infection will get better on its own. When doctors do prescribe antibiotics, they most often use amoxicillin because it works well and costs less than other brands.
Experts suggest a hearing test if a child has had fluid behind his or her eardrum longer than 3 months. Normal hearing is critical during the first 2 years when your child is learning to talk. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help clear the fluid. But that usually doesn't help. The doctor may also suggest placing tubes in the ears to drain fluid and improve hearing.
Other medicines that can treat symptoms of ear infection include:
Decongestants, antihistamines, expectorants, and other over-the-counter cold remedies usually do not work well for treating or preventing ear infections. Antihistamines that may make your child sleepy can thicken fluids and may actually make your child feel worse. Check with the doctor before giving these medicines to your child. Experts say not to give decongestants to children younger than 2.
Antibiotics may help cure ear infections caused by bacteria.
What to think about
Some doctors prefer to treat all ear infections with antibiotics. Some things to consider before your child takes antibiotics include:
If your child still has symptoms (fever and earache) longer than 48 hours after starting an antibiotic, a different antibiotic may work better. Call your doctor if your child isn't feeling better after 2 days of antibiotic treatment.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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