All About Ear Infections
Danger of Misusing Antibiotics
Before considering a myringotomy, many doctors prescribe a
long course of antibiotics as a preventive measure. This can reduce the number
of infections a child gets, but it also promotes the spread of
antibiotic-resistant bacteria. To help minimize the overuse of antibiotics, the
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that antibiotics be withheld if
there's fluid but no sign of infection or fever.
Some pediatricians, however, will cave in to a parent's
request to prescribe antibiotics even when they're not warranted, simply
because the parent expects a prescription. It's important that you don't
pressure your pediatrician to prescribe antibiotics if they're not necessary.
If your doctor does prescribe antibiotics, it's vital that your child completes
the entire course. Not finishing a round of antibiotics can set the stage for
What You Can Do to Prevent Ear Infections:
- Breast-feed your baby for at least six months. Infants who are exclusively
formula-fed for the first six months have a 70 percent greater risk of ear
infections. If you must bottle-feed, hold your baby's head above stomach level
to help keep the eustachian tubes from getting blocked.
- Avoid group daycare during your child's first year, if possible. A recent
Journal of Pediatrics study found that around 65 percent of babies in daycare
suffered at least six respiratory infections in their first year, compared with
only 29 percent of babies who were cared for at home.
- Avoid smoke-filled environments. Children who inhale second-hand smoke are
at a higher risk for ear infections.
What to Do If Your Child Does Get an Ear Infection:
- Don't feed your infant while he or she is lying down (this increases ear
pressure and pain).
- Give your child over-the-counter acetaminophen (not aspirin) to help
diminish her discomfort.
- Try placing several warm (not hot!) drops of mullin or garlic oil -- both
are natural antibiotics -- in your child's ear (but check with your
pediatrician before placing anything in your child's ear).