Changes May be Coming in How Ear Infections in Children Are Treated

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Two major health groups are calling on doctors to change the way they use antibiotics in treating ear infections. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Practice believe reducing the use of antibiotics in treating ear infections will help reduce the rise of antibiotic germs that have been created by the overuse of the drugs.

The move will be formalized soon with guidelines sent to doctors. It will recommend doctors carefully examine an ear infection. If it’s not an acute case, doctors will be urged to have parents treat the fever and symptoms with over the counter medications. The most acute cases, about 20-percent, will need antibiotics and doctors are being told to prescribe for children.

Although these guidelines are new, many young doctors like Todd Johnson of Lincoln have been urged during residency to consider treating mild ear infections without antibiotics.

"For me, it's almost part of my routine now, whereas it has been more routine (in the past) to see an ear infection and treat with an antibiotic," Dr. Johnson adds.