DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Ten-month-old Juliana Rochetti has been repeatedly bothered by ear infections.
“We’ve been on four rounds of antibiotics, we just got prescribed our 5th,” says her Mother, Melinda Rochetti. “We’re not sure if it’s the same ear infection over and over again, or they ever cleared up.”
Ear infections in children are so common that Baylor pediatrician Dr. Marjorie Milici lightheartedly calls them the “bread and butter of pediatrics.”
But, doctors and parents know that the infections can be very painful.
“She hits herself a lot on the ears,” says Rochetti. “She’s got a lot of drainage through the nose and eyes and she doesn’t sleep as well.” So, Rochetti is okay with treating the infection with antibiotics.
But, concern about the overuse of antibiotics is prompting the American Academy of Pediatrics to stress patience, rather than prescriptions.
“They’re saying if you have the high fever, pain and a bulging ear, go ahead and treat them with antibiotics,” says Dr. Milici. “But, the less severe, it’s okay to watch and treat them symptomatically and see if it goes away on its own.”
According to Dr. Milici, many physicians have already become more judicious about the use of antibiotics. The guidelines from the AAP encourage more targeted use.
“What we’re doing is rating the ear infections from one to seven. And the 6s and the 7s are getting antibiotics… but, the 4s and the 5s are not getting antibiotics and we’re just seeing if they get better on their own.”
Dr. Milici says parents have become more educated about the dangers of overuse of antibiotics and are typically in agreement with waiting a couple of days.
“We have a limited amount of antibiotics and we don’t want to end up with creating resistant strains, at that point they [antibiotics] become not as useful for us. We don’t have a whole bunch of new ones on the horizon, so we want to use what we have conservatively.”
But, that doesn’t mean steps shouldn’t be taken to make the children more comfortable. Doctors say ibuprofen will help ease the pain of less severe infections, and then there’s home remedies that work.
“Olive oil is a good one,” says Dr. Milici. “Really, any kind of oil… baby oil, olive oil. You just drop it in the ear and it coats the ear drum and sooths the ear drum.” A bag of microwaved, instant rice can be molded and placed over the ear for warm, soothing relief. Make certain the bag isn’t too hot. Still, experts stress that home remedies should only be used when there is no visible discharge– in those cases, it’s best to see a doctor.
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