Should my child get a shot for ear infections?

Q: My child gets ear infections all the time, but hates taking antibiotics. Should she get a shot instead?

A: The ear infection shot you're referring to is called Rocephin, which is made with the antibiotic ceftriaxone. The side effects are pretty much the same as any antibiotic and include diarrhea, diaper rash, and possible allergic reactions. Although Rocephin is effective at treating ear infections, doctors prefer to limit its use because it's so powerful and there are less-potent oral antibiotics that work just as well. Since this drug is so strong it kills most weak bacteria, leaving the strongest strains to survive and reproduce. This means your child could become vulnerable to even more virulent infections down the road. Also, unnecessary use of the strongest antibiotics community-wide may encourage the growth of more drug-resistant bacteria. So although we know it's hard to get your baby to take her meds, experts agree that it's in all our best interests to reserve Rocephin only for very serious or potentially life-threatening infections like sepsis (a bacterial infection of the blood) or meningitis.

If your child is particularly stubborn about taking medication, ask the pharmacy about flavoring the medication so it doesn't taste as awful. For babies and toddlers, try squirting the medicine in the back of the mouth inside their cheeks, so they're less likely to spit it out. For older kids, consider creating a reward chart to track how well your child takes her medicine, and offer a treat if she does it without a fight for a certain number of times. You can also let you child suck on an ice pop right beforehand to numb her taste buds, or offer her the chaser of her choice to wash the taste of the medicine out of her mouth.

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.

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