Ear Infections: Adding Up What We Know

The results of the 74 randomized, controlled studies of ear infections published between 1966 and 1999 were analyzed and reported in the August 2001 issue of Pediatrics. About 78% of children with acute otitis media (AOM) who do not receive antibiotics will recover without complications within a week. Of the 28% who did not get better, many would still have ear infections even if they did receive the antibiotics.

The benefit of antibiotics is small but real. About 8 children need to be treated for one child to have gotten better because of the antibiotics. The antibiotics do decrease pain in most kids, but there are gentler ways to do this.

Not all kids with ear infections need antibiotics. For children who appear well enough on my exam, I favor watchful waiting with pain control for 48 to 72 hours before starting antibiotics, if needed.

Published on: August 08, 2001
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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

My 9 month old has his first ear infection. He had a cold which I’m assuming led to the infection. Our doctor is great about not just giving antibiotics for every little thing and trying natural approaches when appropriate. That’s one reason I chose their practice. I myself am big in to holistic approaches.

My oldest never had an ear infection so this is something I’m new to. My nine month old started with a cold and then 3 days later seemed to be over it that night about 2 am he nursed all night, ran a fever and cried all night. I assumed it was his cold had not gone away like I thought it had, so I gave him Motrin for the fever.

When the meds wore off the fever returned at about 5 pm I was convinced this was not from his cold since his cold had seemed to be gone and then a day later he had a persistent temp of 102* so I took him into the urgent care we go to if our doc office is closed and need to be quickly. Again I really like the doctor there and he is very careful on prescribing antibiotics this was actually the first time we have gone and he prescribed us an antibiotic. He swabbed him for flu, took temp, listened to his lungs and looked in his ears. Lungs clear, temp was 102, and when he examined the ears he said the left ear was very red, inflamed and there was fluid behind the drum. He prescribed Amoxicillin.

I am very uneasy having my infant take an antibiotic, but I defiantly want to do the right thing. I am nursing so I was surprised he even got one as my oldest son never did. After reading your article I definantly want to make sure giving my baby the antibiotic is the right treatment. I certinatly don’t want to cause him to get more infections because I gave him the antibiotic. Any advise would greatly appreciated. Sorry for the very long post.

Well I’m a adult about 50 years old and have a bad ear infection, and all they gave me was drops. Its painful and swollen. And I just happen to look this up, and found result. And I had these pills lying around due to an bad tooth, where my face was big like an apple.

Also the dosage is Amoxicillin 400mg 5s. 4ml twice a day for 10 days.