Smart Woman: Revised Guidelines for Childhood Ear Infections

Ear infections send millions of children to the doctor's office, but getting the right diagnosis and treatment can be difficult. That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics is revising its guidelines.

Diagnosing and treating ear infections isn't always easy for doctors. Now the American Academy of Pediatrics is updating its guidelines for children, ages 6 months to 12 years, so doctors can make a more accurate diagnosis and decide the best treatment. The children who benefit most from starting antibiotics promptly are those who have sever ear infections, meaning those who have high fevers, have discharge or ruptured eardrum.

Ear infections are the most common reason doctors prescribe antibiotics for children in the United States. Doctors hope the new guidelines will help physicians make better decisions about who needs antibiotics. Doctors are advised to examine the ear drum, it it's not bulging children should not get antibiotics. About two thirds of the kids get better without using the antibiotics.

The recommendation for most children is to wait and watch and treat with pain killers. Antibiotics may be needed if the symptoms don't improve after 3 days. In severe cases ear tube surgery is necessary to get the problem under control.

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