TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It is painful, uncomfortable and, for your kids, all too common. Ear infections hit three quarters of American children under five, keeping them sick for days, leaving parents to relieve their pain. For years antibiotics handled the ear illness, but a recent study says they don't do as much as they claim.
On most days Eliana Langford is an outgoing 1-year-old. But, on this day, her mom brought her to the doctor for an ear infection.
"There was a time in the past when we went to the emergency room and the doctor there said we don't know what's wrong with her just give her an antibiotic and I wasn't entirely thrilled with that," said Rachel Langford.
Neither is a new British Medical Journal study suggesting antibiotics may increase relapse or not be needed at all.
"I think it depends on the individual case," said Dr. Melanie Wick, a pediatrician. "If your ear is pink, if there's a little fluid behind your ear we don't call that an ear infection and we wouldn't treat that with an antibiotic."
Dr. Wick says ear infection treatment with antibiotics should not be either or. Over the counter remedies like Tylenol and Motrin or numbing drops can relieve symptoms until they become too serious.
"If you have an ear drum that's bulging, it's really red and your child has fever and other symptoms, those are the times that we would say that your child has a diagnosis of an ear infection and that an antibiotic is appropriate at that time," said Wick.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggest antibiotics should be prescribed when children are under age 2, diagnosed with a fever of at least 102 degrees, has fluid dripping from their ears or faces a double ear infection.
For the millions of cases like Eliana, doctors say there is never one answer.
"There are lots of different situations for each different patient that comes in, and as the pediatrician we determine what would be the best and most appropriate care in each case," said Wick.
It is an individual approach, keeping those like little Eliana pain free.
Doctors say around 10% to 20% of children can have side effects like upset stomach, vomiting, and in rare instances rashes.
Moms, we want to know what you think about all of this. Please leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.
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