Fighting Ear Infections

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Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 11:15am

New research finds benefits in early antibiotic treatments.

To treat, or not to treat has been a major question among moms and dads when it comes to children's ear infections.

Now new research finds giving antibiotics may be the best course of action if it truly is an ear infection.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

His agency funded new research that shows antibiotics can help young children feel better and recover faster when they're diagnosed with acute otitis media, known to most of us as a middle ear infection.

"It really was a very good study in that the criteria for the diagnosis and the following of the symptoms were very strict," Dr. Fauci says.

This finding is in contrast to other research which indicated most kids' ear infections would clear up on their own.

"The diagnostic criteria used in those children may not have been as precise as the diagnostic criteria that's used here," Fauci says.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations have encouraged a "watchful waiting" approach rather than immediate antibiotic treatment, but will take this new research under consideration and could ultimately change their recommendations for doctors.

Pediatricians say the research is reassuring.

"It does help us to know that we are doing the right thing for the child if we are treating a known ear infection with an antibiotic," says the Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Kimberly Giuliano.

Some of the signs of an ear infection include pulling at the ears, excessive crying, fluid draining from the ears, fever and problems hearing.

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