Antibiotics no help for ear infections

panadolNew draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) say parents should treat the infections with or paracetamol or ibuprofen instead.

It comes a few days after the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention also warned parents that antibiotics are not suitable for many common conditions.

The Nice guidance relates to acute otitis media – an infection that occurs in the middle ear and is common in children and young people.

Evidence from Nice found that about 60 per cent of children will show signs of improvement – such as less pain – within 24 hours, even if they have not taken antibiotics.

Nice said some children may need antibiotics immediately, such as those who are very unwell or have symptoms of a more serious illness.

Children with discharge from the ear caused by a burst ear drum should be offered antibiotics immediately or given a prescription to use if symptoms do not improve, or get worse, within three days.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at Nice, said: “The evidence shows antibiotics are not needed by most children and young people with middle ear infections.”

Figures suggest one in four children will have at least one middle ear infection before they reach 10.

The infections are most common between the ages of six and 15 months.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the world is running out of antibiotics.

It said growing bug resistance to the drugs could “seriously jeopardise” progress made in modern medicine.

The WHO described antimicrobial resistance as “a global health emergency”.


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