Created on: March 01, 2013
As a parent, one knows that there will be nights when sleep will be quite elusive due to medical reasons with a child. Though there are various ailments that can cause a child sleepless nights, perhaps none is as painful for a parent to watch as a middle ear infection. Unlike the common cold or a cough, the ear infection can torment a child inside their head, bringing resounding pain that seems nonstop to them.
The worst part for a parent is the fact that nothing in the home seems to help the situation. Products like Tylenol or children's Advil can bring some momentary comfort to the aching child, but the relief is usually short lived and the pain comes rushing back with a vengeance. For decades, the solution has been to get the child to a doctor, where a regimen of antibiotic is normally prescribed. As the 21st century arrived though, doctors were rethinking that all inclusive plan of attack, opting for a wait and see approach with some children.
Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics is making new changes to their guidelines, or more aptly, clarifying the position they took back in 2004. At that time, the Academy decided that not every case of an ear infection should be treated with antibiotics. The feeling was that there were some children whose infections were not as pronounced and tended to heal without the assistance of antibiotics. There were obviously some kids that still needed the intervention, but at least not everyone would be taking the drugs.
Why was this important? It was due to the fact that the continual use of antibiotics was leading some children to develop antibiotic resistant bacteria. Once children came down with something like that, doctors are suddenly at a loss as to what to try, hoping that some new or higher powered drug might be able to head off worsening conditions. Thus, it became imperative that doctors evaluate conditions like ear infections, in hopes that less severe cases could be helped by the bodies own defenses.
A USA Today piece stated the clarification was, "According to the guidelines, children need immediate antibiotics if they have a severe ear infection (defined as either a fever of 102.2 degrees or higher or significant pain); a ruptured ear drum with drainage; or an infection in both ears for kids 2 or younger." Dr. Richard Rosenthal noted, "These account for fewer cases, but we know from studies that they get the most benefit from an antibiotic right away. Kids without these symptoms tend to get well on their own and can be safely observed for a few days."
It is a scary thought to think that the overuse of antibiotics can actually lead to creating bacteria in a child's body that current antibiotics might not be able to handle. Some parents might not like these new guidelines because of the cautious approach, but sitting back and observing the less severe symptoms does not mean do nothing. Children in this condition can still take things like Tylenol to combat the fever and pain, so it is not like they are left with no options.
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