Antibiotics for a Child’s Ear Infection?

Practical advice on ear infections in children from the blog Before You Take That Pill by Douglas Bremner.

I wonder how many years it will take for articles like this to change the prescribing of antibiotics for conditions where they do more harm than good.  

…For years doctors in Holland have been using the “wait and see” approach with much success. It turns out that antibiotics have minimal impact on ear infections, and that, unless a child is toxic (very visibly ill and unresponsive), that simple ear infections are best treated with ibuprofen, a local pain killer for the ear, and otherwise left alone. If the child does not show improvement after three days, then it is time to go to the doctor. In years of treating children this way there have been no adverse outcomes. I wish they followed the wait and see approach when my daughter was a child.

Children treated with antibiotics for ear infections have a three-fold increase in re-infection. This is related to the fact that normal bacteria in the ear are killed off by antibiotics, creating an environment where pathogenic bacteria can grab a foothold. In spite of the fact that guidelines state not to treat some types of ear infections with antibiotics, many doctors do it anyway. A type of ear infection where there is fluid discharge from the ear, without evidence of acute infection (bulging ear drum, extreme pain, high fever) is often treated with antibiotics, although it increases the risk of re-infection….

much more via Do I Need to Give Antibiotics for my Child’s Ear Infection? | Before You Take That Pill.


  1. Good point about wait and see for ear infection treatment. In some instances though antibiotics are warranted.

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