New guidelines for diagnosing ear infections in children

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Updated: .

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines for treating ear infections in children.

The update features more rigid criteria for accurately diagnosing different types of ear infections. Acute otitis media (AOM) is the most common bacterial illness in children and the one most commonly treated with antibiotics. The other common infection is Otitis Media with Effusion (OME), which is fluid in the middle ear.

The new guidelines are as follows:

  1. Accurately diagnose AOM and differentiate it from OME, which requires different management.
  2. Relieve pain, especially in the first 24 hours, with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  3. Minimize antibiotic side effects by giving parents of select children the option of fighting the infection on their own for 48-72 hours, then starting antibiotics if they do not improve.
  4. Prescribe initial antibiotics for children who are likely to benefit the most from treatment.
  5. Encourage families to prevent AOM by reducing risk factors. For babies and infants these include breastfeeding for at least six months, avoiding "bottle propping," and eliminating exposure to passive tobacco smoke.
  6. If antibiotic treatment is agreed upon, the clinician should prescribe amoxicillin for most children.

You can read more about the new guidelines here.