No More Ear Infections

Repeat Performances

Fluid in the ear is not a problem only because of temporary hearing loss. It also often results in repeated bouts of ear infections, which cause children and their parents a lot of pain and anxiety. A child with recurrent ear infections is defined as one who has had three infections in the past six months or four infections in the past year. When I have patients with this problem, I recommend putting them on preventive, or prophylactic, antibiotics. This is a low-dose antibiotic taken every day for three to four months (once the latest infection has been treated with a regular round of antibiotics) to get them through the cold and flu season. This should prevent further infections and gives the middle ear a chance to reabsorb any remaining fluid. If a child continues to get ear infections despite taking prophylactic antibiotics, that also makes a case for putting tubes in his eardrums.

Fortunately, most children avoid these serious consequences. And although ear infections are troubling for both parents and kids, there's a lot that can be done to fight and treat them.

Anne Beal, MD, is coauthor of The Black Parenting Book: Caring for Our Children in the First Five Years (Broadway Books, 1998).

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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