Acute otitis media (AOM), or middle ear infection, is the most common bacterial illness in children and the one most commonly treated with antibiotics. Millions of children may be getting treated unnecessarily with antibiotics for ear infections. Children who are given antibiotics when they don't need them may build up antibiotic resistance, which could keep them from responding to medication for a more serious infection.
According to the new guidelines by The American Academy of Pediatrics,the most important goal with any ear infection is to relieve the child's pain. They recommend parents use ibuprofen or acetaminophen immediately since antibiotics do not relieve pain during the first 24 hours and do not reduce fever quicker or better than pain medicines. The new guidelines also recommend physicians observe selected children for 48 to 72 hours before proceeding with antibiotic treatments. The panel says this option should be limited to otherwise healthy children 6 months to 2 years of age with non-severe illness and who have an uncertain diagnosis. For children 2 years of age and older, the observation option should be limited to those without severe symptoms or with an uncertain diagnosis.
Researchers say if a decision is made to treat the infection with antibiotics, the panel recommends doctors prescribe amoxicillin for most children, because it's generally effective, safe, low in cost, and has an acceptable taste for most kids.