Avoiding antibiotic resistance

Monkey has yet another ear infection. This makes three ear infections in the past three months. As soon as Monkey so much as sneezes these days, Hubby and I start waiting for him to bat at his ears (a skill he’s just now beginning to hone). We’re talking to our pediatrician next week at his 6-month appointment about putting a tube in his right ear (the only one that seems to ever be afflicted). In the meantime, I’m struggling with the treatment regimen for his current infection.

In a healthy child, ear infections are not life threatening. Uncomfortable, certainly. But they’re not the end of the world. If you’re a scientist, you’re probably well aware that antibiotics are unnecessary for many infections, and that aggressive use of antibiotics has led to rampant antibiotic resistance. While antibiotics are often used to treat an ear infection (we’ve already gone through the amoxicillin dance with Monkey twice), many bacterial ear infections will clear on their own.

The “watchful waiting” approach has become a standard of uncomplicated AOM (acute otitis media) care in children age 2 years and up. For children like Monkey who are less than 2 years old, the water gets a bit murky, largely due to a less-developed immune system and under-developed anatomy. However, after speaking with an infectious disease-specializing pediatrician, who also happens to be a good friend of mine, Hubby and I decided that the “watchful waiting” approach might still be preferable to loading Monkey up with amoxicillin.

So, when I was in the pediatrician’s office yesterday, Monkey’s doctor and I worked together to develop a treatment plan. Tylenol made Monkey comfortable this past weekend when his ear infection first came on – we’re going to continue this treatment to keep his symptoms at bay. I have antibiotics that we’ll start if Monkey’s fever/symptoms persist in spite of treatment with Tylenol (I’m not a heartless goon planning to watch my little boy suffer, after all). In addition, we have an appointment next Monday to ensure that his ear is indeed on the mend.

Fingers are crossed that this works, and hopefully we can keep Monkey’s ear clear until he gets a tube put in!

Leibovitz E. Paediatric Drugs. Acute otitis media in children aged less than 2 years: drug treatment issues. 2006. 8(6); 337-46.

Leibovitz E., et al. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. Current management of pedicatric acute otitis media. 2010. 8(2); 151-61.

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