Antihistamines and Ear Infections

Antihistamines and Ear Infections

Almost one in five clinicians will give a child an antihistamine or an antihistamine-containing cold medicine to give added relief to children with ear infections. Even when they don’t, parents will often pick up an over-the-counter product on their own. Their use seems to be rising, as antibiotic use is falling.

The idea is that these should decrease congestion and unplug the Eustachian tubes, allowing the infected fluid in the ear to clear. And besides, they can make kids sleepy! Do they really help?

A beautifully designed study in the September 2003 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics concluded that antihistamines make the situation worse – lengthening the time that it takes the ear infection to go away.

I suggest giving most kids with ear infections eardrops to relieve the pain while their bodies fight the infections. This can help them sleep while they heal.

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Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

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