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AAP Revises Use of Antibiotics in Middle-Ear Infections in Children

Update Date: Feb 25, 2013 07:57 AM EST
ear infection
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The American Academy of Pediatrics said that it is now updating its guidelines for treating acute otitis media (AOM). The guidelines are designed to lower the use of antibiotics in treating middle-ear infection in children.

Compared to earlier guidelines issued by AAP in 2004, the new guidelines have more stringent criteria for the use of antibiotics in children, AAP said.

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Middle-ear infection is the most common ear infection in children, where parts of the ear are swollen and fluid is trapped behind the eardrum, says National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

The infection is usually treated with antibiotics. The new guidelines say that kids need to be properly diagnosed with the condition and only then administered the antibiotics. Based on age and severity of the infection, children need to be just monitored or given painkillers to ease the pain.

According to Richard Rosenfeld of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, who was involved in the writing of the current guidelines, children recover on their own from these infections within two or three days, reports npr.org.

"There's been a movement for a number of years for pediatricians to provide less antibiotics for ear infections and simply observe those children with mild findings on physical examination," Andrew Hertz, M.D., medical director of the University Hospitals Rainbow Care Network in Cleveland, said in an interview to MedPage.

However, the guidelines say that children who have severe ear infections with high fever or pain must be treated with antibiotics, reports USA Today.  Also, children below 2 years or those who have a ruptured ear drum need to be treated with antibiotics.

"If you have a severe infection, no point discussing it further. Those children are going to get antibiotics. And the reason is they'll get the most benefit," Rosenfeld said, reports npr.org.

The guidelines are published in the journal Pediatrics

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