Although antibiotics used to be the go-to solution, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends a "watch-and-see" strategy for most children over 6 months without severe cases or who have not had recent ear infections. Why? Nearly 80 percent of children will recover from ear infections without antibiotics, and using them to treat every case can contribute to bacteria resistance -- and longer, more serious infections -- over time.
However, most doctors will prescribe antibiotics to babies under 6 months and to children predisposed to ear infections (those with a strong family history or conditions like Down syndrome and cleft palate), those who've had multiple, recent infections, or if symptoms persist more than 48 to 72 hours. The most commonly prescribed drug is amoxicillin. Kids who are allergic to this, a type of penicillin, are usually prescribed antibiotics like cefdinir, cefpodoxime, or cefuroxime.
If your child is prescribed antibiotics, be sure to complete the entire course of treatment even if symptoms improve after a few days. The pediatrician will likely schedule a follow-up appointment to make sure the infection has cleared, but give her a call if your child doesn't start feeling better after two to three days, as she may want to try a different antibiotic. --Alisa Stoudt
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