Healthier Me: Earaches - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Healthier Me: Earaches

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In Monday's Healthier Me, ear infections are a common condition suffered by many babies and toddlers, and some new guidelines out this week could help parents make better decisions on how to treat it.


Pediatricians estimate that ear infections are one of the most common reasons they see young children. Ear aches take on different forms, and the most common is otitis media, an infection of the middle ear.

Up until now, there have been many questions on whether to treat a young child's ear pain with antibiotics; many parents and some doctors shied away from giving a baby these medications because of their side effects, which include diarrhea and the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Now, some of these questions have been resolved.

The Journal of Pediatrics published a revised series of earache treatment guidelines this week, providing two main points.


  1. If an ear infection is limited to only one side of the head, of if the child has only mild symptoms, pediatricians may choose to either treat it with antibiotics or continue to observe.
  2. However, if a baby between the ages of 6 and 24 months has a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit and/or acute pain in the ear, antibiotics should be administered.


Since the last revision of the guidelines back in 2004, child health experts have found this method to be the most effective in treating little ones with common earaches and more severe symptoms.

Doctors also remind parents that the most common cause of ear infection is an upper respiratory viral infection such as a cold or the flu.

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