Are antibiotics used too much for child ear aches? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Are antibiotics used too much for child ear aches?

March 3, 2004

Albany -- Federal health officials recommend this spring that Doctors stop treating most ear infections in children with antibiotics. One of Albany's leading pediatricians says that could lead to complications.

One year old Dylan Burke does not feel good. Dr. Bruce Smith checks his ears for an infection. Dr. Smith says most of his ill patients suffer ear infections, and for the more serious middle ear problems he prescribes antibiotics.

 30 years of experience tells him most families are not willing to have their child suffer, while waiting to see if the infection will go away on it's own. Dr. Smith said "I don't have many families in my practice who want to come back three days later, after three bad nights of crying ear aches. So I am a little skeptical about that."

 Two leading medical groups have found that over use of antibiotics could cause the rise of drug resistant germs. They also felt most children recover on their own, without antibiotics. Dr. Smith said another similar study led to sicker kids. "They didn't use antibiotics in one hundred kids with ear infections. One got meningitis, one got a mastoid bone infection of the skull. These are both serious complications."

 Dr. Smith said there are currently a dozen antibiotics he can choose from to battle ear infections, and that can help prevent germ resistance. But he feels South Georgia parents demand the best and quickest cure possible. "The solution is to let Doctors use a variety of antibiotics, and keep the germs guessing."

Dr. Smith said there are two types of ear infections, and he never prescribes antibiotics for the more mild version.

 He says working closely with your pediatrician is the best way to treat ear infections, while not over using antibiotics.

posted at 4:36 PM by jimw@walb.com