Are Antibiotics Necessary for Ear Infections?
Q: My child has had too many ear infections! I am anxious about using so many antibiotics. What do you suggest?
A: It’s very clear that over the last decade doctors have become too comfortable with writing prescriptions for antibiotics. Antibiotics are powerful, life-saving medications, but you don’t need them for every little sniffle.
Most ear infections are the result of viruses and will clear on their own–no antibiotics needed! Sometimes viral infections progress into bacterial infections and then antibiotics may be necessary but this is the exception rather than the rule.
It is worrisome that your child has the ear aches so frequently, and it might be worth your while to see a pediatric ear, nose, and throat specialist to see if there is any anatomical reason for this.
For routine management of discomfort during an earache, try a warm compress or following the recommended dosage guidelines for children’s strength acetaminophen.
Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.
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