Well­ness Arti­cles

Doc­tors Urged to Delay Kids’ Ear­ache Drugs

The above head­line comes from the June 6, 2003 edi­tion of the Atlanta Jour­nal Con­sti­tu­tion (AJC). The arti­cle starts off by say­ing, “Doc­tors are being advised to with­hold antibi­otics for two to three days for many chil­dren with ear­aches in an effort to curb the grow­ing prob­lem of antibi­otic resis­tance.” The Acad­emy of Pedi­atrics is plan­ning on ini­ti­at­ing a cam­paign called, “watch­ful wait­ing” this fall in response to the grow­ing problem.

Accord­ing to the AJC arti­cle, about 10 mil­lion pre­scrip­tions for antibi­otics are writ­ten every year for kids with ear infec­tions. This num­ber rep­re­sents nearly half of all antibi­otics used among preschool­ers. How­ever the arti­cle notes that 81 per­cent of the ear prob­lems go away with­out med­ica­tion, accord­ing to the U.S. Agency for Health­care Research and Qual­ity, a divi­sion of the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices. (see arti­cle here)

Dr. Richard Rosen­feld, a pedi­atric ear, nose and throat spe­cial­ist at Long Island Col­lege Hos­pi­tal in Brook­lyn, says, “You’re not get­ting a lot of bang for your antibi­otic buck with this dis­ease.” Dr. Rosen­feld spoke at a cen­tres for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion con­fer­ence in Atlanta and is help­ing the Acad­emy of Pedi­atrics final­ize its guide­lines. Those new guide­lines tell pedi­a­tri­cians and fam­ily physi­cians to hold off on antibi­otics for chil­dren older than 6 months if doc­tors aren’t sure of a true ear infec­tion. The new guide­lines also sug­gest that antibi­otics should be given for just five days, instead of seven to 10 days, for chil­dren older than 2.

The AJC arti­cle also noted that many ear­aches are viral and don’t involve fluid in the mid­dle ear, a sign of infec­tion. Nearly 20 per­cent of true ear infec­tions are caused by viruses for which antibi­otics don’t work. Dr. Ger­ald Reis­man, with Dun­woody Pedi­atrics in Atlanta noted, “It may take a while for par­ents to accept the new approach away from rou­tinely using antibi­otics to treat their chil­dren. Par­ents often have the expec­ta­tion that their child is sick and needs an antibi­otic to get well, and some really put the pres­sure on,” he said. “But now we can say, ‘It’s not just me. It’s the CDC and the Acad­emy of Pediatrics.’ ”

Dr. Rich Bessler, a CDC infec­tious dis­ease spe­cial­ist, noted that other coun­tries in Europe have suc­cess­fully imple­mented cam­paigns to delay antibi­otic use for ear­aches. Dr. Rosen­feld closed the arti­cle by sug­gest­ing that par­ents need to real­ize that an ear­ache, even though some­times painful, is almost always harmless.

Ran­dom Article

In two sep­a­rate stud­ies steroids were shown to be harm­ful for each of two sep­a­rate age groups even though these drugs are com­mon treatments.

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