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When should a child be given antibiotics for an ear infection?

How do you know if your child needs antibiotics for an ear infection? The American Academy of Pediatrics is out with new guidelines designed to clarify which kids should be treated right away and which should be observed to see if they get better on their own.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- How do you know if your child needs antibiotics for an ear infection? The American Academy of Pediatrics is out with new guidelines designed to clarify which kids should be treated right away and which should be observed to see if they get better on their own.

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 two or younger.

Children without these symptoms tend to get well on their own and can be safely observed for a few days. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get medicine, ibuprofen or acetaminophen should be given to relieve pain.

Doctors say if an ear infection is going to improve, it’ll happen within 72 hours. If a child’s symptoms get worse or don’t improve in that time, they should be given antibiotics.

In studies where the observational option has been offered, two out of three kids get better without an antibiotic.

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