Picture of a doctor checking a girl
Healthy Tips

Careful of Misdiagnosed Ear Infections

When to Avoid Antibiotics for Pediatric Ear Pain

Ear infections are one of the most common reasons to see a pediatrician. However, nearly one fifth of diagnosed ear infections are not that. Ear aches can be hard to diagnose, particularly in children, and often times fevers, ear pulling and pain are assumed to be infections.

If the diagnosis is correct, then your physician is right to prescribe antibiotics. If it’s not an ear infection, treatment with antibiotics can result in upset stomachs, allergies, recurring infections and a resistance to antibiotics in the future.

“SNAP” treatment

Seventy percent of would-be ear infections get better without antibiotics in two to three days and 80 percent are better within a week. For this reason, many pediatricians will prescribe “SNAP” antibiotics.

Safety Net Antibiotic Prescriptions are intended for use a few days after the doctor’s visit. Physicians encourage parents to combine common pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen with analgesic eardrops for the first few days, and, only if the pain continues, to fill the antibiotic prescription.

If your child has ear pain and it’s not possible to perform a comprehensive check for infection, ask your pediatrician about alternatives to antibiotics.