The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines that more clearly identify the signs and symptoms of ear infections in young children, as well as determining when treatment is required. Basically, they encourage observation with close follow-up instead of antibiotic treatment for many, particularly in those under the age of 2. They also advise physicians and parents when it is time to see a specialist regarding recurring infections.
“Between a more accurate diagnosis and the use of observation, we think we can greatly decrease the use of antibiotics,” stated lead research author Dr. Allan Liberthal of Kaiser Permanente Panorama City in Los Angeles.
Liberthal went on to state that the last time guidelines were issued (in 2004) they provided evidence for the new outlines which appear in the March issue of Pediatrics, and noted that the biggest difference was in the definition of the diagnosis itself.
Basically, there are two main types of ear infections in children, outer ear infections and middle ear infections.
Outer ear infections (sometimes called swimmers ear) usually happen when the children get water their ears, which may lead to inflammation and infection. While there may be some discharge from the ear, there is generally no fever.
Middle ear infections can occur when the child is exposed to a lot of other kids (especially at daycare or in school), is around a parent or other relative who smokes, has another family member that had a lot of ear infections, and from laying down while drinking a bottle. Oddly, ear infections are less common in children that breastfeed.
This type of infection also typically occurs a week or two after your child has an upper respiratory tract infection, which can cause inflammation and fluid to build up behind his ear drum. The ear drum will look red and will usually be bulging because of pus building up behind it. It will also be immobile, meaning that your pediatrician will not see the ear drum move when he squeezes the rubber insufflator bulb on the otoscope. The fluid can then become infected with bacteria and your child will likely develop ear pain, fever and irritability and he/she be tugging at his/her ears.
Still, Dr. Roya Samuels said that while the definition “is more precise and clear-cut, there is still no gold standard for diagnosis. There are different stages which can make it kind of tricky.”
For a related article see: http://www.examiner.com/article/90-medical-tests-and-treatments-found-to...