Previous Post Next Post


Brought to you by

Ear Infection? Antibiotics May Not Be Necessary.

By paulabernstein |


Ear Infections Hurt!

Did you know that 8 million children visit a doctor annually because of ear infections and that ear infections are the No. 1 reason kids take antibiotics? Yet according to a recent analysis of earlier studies, antibiotics are unnecessary in the majority of these cases, reports USA Today.

In fact, 80 out of 100 children with ear infections will get better on their own in about three days, according to a review of 135 previously published studies in yesterday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

The review found that antibiotics improve the “cure rate” minimally (92 out of 100 children) and in some cases, cause side effects such as a rash or diarrhea.

The larger problem is that over-prescribing antibiotics only fuels the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.

But often parents – especially ones who need to send their kids to day care or school so they can go to work – push doctors to prescribe antibiotics even when they’re unnecessary.

Many experts now recommend that doctors write a prescription, but advise parents to fill it only if the infection worsens or doesn’t improve within three days.

So what’s the best way to treat an ear infection? Ibuprofen. It won’t make the infection disappear, but it will help relieve the pain.

How do you treat your kids’ ear infections?


Bed Bug Registry: Essential for Holiday Travel?

Is Attachment Parenting a Prison for Mothers?

10 Best Parents in Children’s Literature

4-Year-Old Kicked Out of Pre-K Over Long Hair

How Can a 4-Year-Old Be Sued?

What to Do When You Hate Your Friend’s Kids?

Most Popular Boy’s Name in Britain: Mohammed?

Note to Moms: Don’t Complain About Your Weight

No, Your Baby Can’t Read

Does Your Child Need a “Playdate Card?”

photo: flickr/Facey Family

More on Babble

About paulabernstein



Paula Bernstein is a freelance writer and social media manager with a background in entertainment journalism. She is also the co-author of Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited.

« Go back to Mom

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Comments, together with personal information accompanying them, may be used on and other Babble media platforms. Learn More.

8 thoughts on “Ear Infection? Antibiotics May Not Be Necessary.

  1. PlumbLucky says:

    Ear infections in my toddler absolutely stump me. He displays NO symptoms whatsoever (we found yet another one at his most recent well checkup) and the ones that we have found have been nasty ones requiring medical interventions :-( . My question isn’t “how do I treat them” but rather “how do I tell my child has one when he isn’t in pain, isn’t acting strangely, isn’t pulling on his ears, etc.” and either can’t tell me (he’s two) or isn’t bothered by his ears? UGH! The first doctor we saw said that having a sniffly nose is a symptom – um, in my house, someone has the sniffles 24-7-365…due to hay fever, allergies, and the like. Not realistic to take him to the Dr. every time he has the sniffles!

  2. jrmiss86 says:

    PlumbLucky, My daughter is the same way. I took her in for a well visit last year, and my doctor asked me if I knew that she had a raging ear infection in both ears!! It took 3 rounds of antibiotics to get rid of the infection. There have been other times I could have sworn she had an ear infection, all the classic signs, pulling ears, fever, ect… and I take her to the Dr. and she has nothing but a cold.

    I can’t stand antibiotics, and I avoid them for both me and my kids. Especially my daughter, since she has a sensitive stomach to begin with.

  3. PlumbLucky says:

    Glad we aren’t the only ones then!

  4. Susan says:

    Our Cornell doctor has been saying this for the 7 years we’ve been seeing him. My aughters have never taken antibiotics for ear infections, and it’s worked out well for them.

  5. Linda, the original one says:

    Garlic oil. It makes your kid smell like a pizza, but clears ear infections right up. My youngest has never had to take antibiotics for any reason.

  6. Penn Girl says:

    My son went through a string of ear infections when he started day care, and, luckily, he was always offered antibiotics. Sure, they might have cleared up on their own, but when your six-month-old is screaming all night, unable to sleep or even to get into a nursing position without pain, three days is an eternity. Antibiotics always left him pain free in about 24 hours. Of course, once you start a round of antibiotics, you absolutely have to finish it.

  7. michelle says:

    This is old news. In Europe they stopped routinely prescribing antibiotics several years ago. Our ped told us we didn’t need to do antibiotics, just Motrin until the infections cleared up on their own. Which they almost always did. By the way, Linda, the original one, what you describe with the garlic oil is the definition of the placebo effect. But if it makes you happy…

  8. Lisa says:

    Chronic ear infections led to hearing loss in my son that required tubes to correct. TWICE. We have no way of knowing how much time he spent during those crucial developmental years with compromised hearing but he had a severe, almost complete hearing loss when it was finally tested. His language development has been significantly harmed by this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Previous Post Next Post