Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson: Ear infection guidelines


by KING 5 News


Posted on February 27, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Ear infections are common in childhood and are the most common reason for antibiotic use in children. Fortunately they are going down in numbers in the United States, likely due to increased use of immunizations and prevention measures, such as helping families understand many infections come from viruses. This may mean fewer children go in to be seen on the first day of ear pain.

Yet increasingly, there’s more bacterial resistance to antibiotics in the medications commonly used to treat ear infections.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with new guidelines for doctors treating children. New data confirms your child may not always need antibiotics, especially if they show no fever or severe pain. But some children will. KING 5’s Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at the Everett Clinic and known online as "Seattle Mama Doc," gives some guidelines about ear infections in children.
Ear Infections in Children:

  • Ear infections commonly come after a "cold."
  • Young children tug on ears, while older children have sudden ear pain.
  • To diagnose make sure your doctor really sees "bulging" to the ear drum.
  • If it’s not better in two days, you may need to switch or add another medication.
  • Breastfeeding and avoidance of tobacco smoke are good protective measures.

What Parents Need To Know:

  • Not all ear infections need antibiotics.
  • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat pain.
  • Children over age 2 without a fever may not need antibiotics.
  • Need a plan if symptoms have not improved in 2-3 days.
  • If an eye infection accompanies the ear infection, ask about antibiotic choice.
  • Keep up to date on shots, as many protect against ear infections.


New Guidelines from American Academy of Pediatrics
Symptoms of ear infections
NPR story -- Treat Ear Infections More Cautiously

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