Antihistamines and Ear Infections

It's a common practice today to give antihistamines to children with ear infections. Do they work, or make things worse? Find out here.

Dr. Greene’s take on antihistamines for 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 antihistamine medications 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.

Published on: October 03, 2003
About the Author
Photo of Dr. Alan Greene
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

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Can u please explain why antihistamine would not help an ear infection, or make it worse?

Thank you this was very helpful.

Cotton in the ear helps keep air out, pain down , why no
Tussin ? Im 66 and have bad allergys last few weeks !