The excessive and improper use of antibiotics has contributed to the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria, yet doctors are still prescribing antibiotics for ear infections when pressured by parents — which is not only unnecessary but expensive. Ear infections remain the number one reason kids receive antibiotics, but according to a meta-analysis of 135 studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Wednesday, 80 percent of children with ear infections get better on their own within three days. The study also finds that the benefits of antibiotic treatment are outweighed by the side-effects — 3-10 percent of children develop rashes while an additional 5-10 percent experience diarrhea. USA Today reports that parents will pressure pediatricians to prescribe antibiotics even when told they are unnecessary because, for example, they don’t want to miss work since their daycare center will not take in children with fevers. Antibiotic treatment of ear infections costs the U.S. nearly $3 billion dollars annually.
Dr. Ross agrees that parents need to avoid treating ear infections with antibiotics whenever possible. “Over-the-counter pain medication and bed rest are probably the best solutions,” he says.