36 doctors weighed in:

Is it necessary to have antibiotics to treat ear infections?

36 doctors weighed in
Dr. Ruben Nazario
Pediatrics
5 doctors agree

In brief: No

The majority of ear infections are caused by viruses, so antibiotics won't help.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if your baby is less than 6 months of age, or if the infection is severe. Older toddlers who have mild illness or whose diagnosis is uncertain can be watched without antibiotics, with close follow up over the next 24-48 hours.

In brief: No

The majority of ear infections are caused by viruses, so antibiotics won't help.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if your baby is less than 6 months of age, or if the infection is severe. Older toddlers who have mild illness or whose diagnosis is uncertain can be watched without antibiotics, with close follow up over the next 24-48 hours.
Dr. Ruben Nazario
Dr. Ruben Nazario
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4 doctors agree

In brief: Yes

The more serious ear infections, yes.

In brief: Yes

The more serious ear infections, yes.
Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky
Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky
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1 comment
Dr. Michael Jaindl
Before the antibiotic area ear infections went through the natural course of inflammation, abscess formation (pus behind the ear drum) and resolution (which was quicker if the ear drum ruptured and the abscess drained). Most of the time this works well. The complication rate however, was much higher then. Govt recommendations recently have been to not treat uncomplicated ear infections with antibi
Dr. Mark Loury
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery
3 doctors agree

In brief: Not always

60% of all ear infections will clear without antibiotics.
For children under 3 current recommendations are to treat with antibiotics but for those older watchful waiting is appropriate. If fever and pain persist for more than 2-3 days while on tylenol (acetaminophen) or advil, the exam worsens, or ear drainage starts then antibiotics. It is rare to see complications such as mastoiditis.

In brief: Not always

60% of all ear infections will clear without antibiotics.
For children under 3 current recommendations are to treat with antibiotics but for those older watchful waiting is appropriate. If fever and pain persist for more than 2-3 days while on tylenol (acetaminophen) or advil, the exam worsens, or ear drainage starts then antibiotics. It is rare to see complications such as mastoiditis.
Dr. Mark Loury
Dr. Mark Loury
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Dr. John Leander Po
Internal Medicine - Infectious Disease
2 doctors agree

In brief: NO not always!

Rampant use of antibiotics has led to the development of resistant bacteria; an example of this is using antibiotics for every "ear infection".
A skilled and experience physician will be able to discriminate what can't be treated with antibiotics (viral infections) and ones that can (bacterial infections like haemophilus sp.). See your experienced and skilled primary care physician.

In brief: NO not always!

Rampant use of antibiotics has led to the development of resistant bacteria; an example of this is using antibiotics for every "ear infection".
A skilled and experience physician will be able to discriminate what can't be treated with antibiotics (viral infections) and ones that can (bacterial infections like haemophilus sp.). See your experienced and skilled primary care physician.
Dr. John Leander Po
Dr. John Leander Po
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Dr. Russell Faust
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery
2 doctors agree

In brief: No

Ear infections - otitis media (OM) is commonly not treated in Europe, though that is not well-tolerated in the US; we usually demand that the doctor do something.
The best "treatment" is prevention. Great preventive OM measures include up to date vaccines (against H flu, Pneumovax). Also proven benefit in clinical trials: daily probiotics, and xylitol (in gum or nasal spray).

In brief: No

Ear infections - otitis media (OM) is commonly not treated in Europe, though that is not well-tolerated in the US; we usually demand that the doctor do something.
The best "treatment" is prevention. Great preventive OM measures include up to date vaccines (against H flu, Pneumovax). Also proven benefit in clinical trials: daily probiotics, and xylitol (in gum or nasal spray).
Dr. Russell Faust
Dr. Russell Faust
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2 doctors agree

In brief: No

Many ear infections are viral in origin asn will resolve on their own.
However depending on the age of the child and the overall symptoms, antibiotics may be needed.

In brief: No

Many ear infections are viral in origin asn will resolve on their own.
However depending on the age of the child and the overall symptoms, antibiotics may be needed.
Dr. Josephine Ruiz-Healy
Dr. Josephine Ruiz-Healy
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Dr. Kevin Windisch
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees

In brief: No

1/4 of middle ear infections in kids older than 2 years improve in 48 hrs without therapy.

In brief: No

1/4 of middle ear infections in kids older than 2 years improve in 48 hrs without therapy.
Dr. Kevin Windisch
Dr. Kevin Windisch
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Dr. Kevin Rodbell
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees

In brief: No

The decision is not trivial: both medicines and ear infections must treated with respect.
Otitis may resolve without antibiotics...Or it can cause mastoiditis & permanent hearing loss, as happened to one patient's grandfather in 1944. Make an informed decision based on the risks of treating--and of not treating--in a specific situation. Re-check ears later, especially if you choose not to treat.

In brief: No

The decision is not trivial: both medicines and ear infections must treated with respect.
Otitis may resolve without antibiotics...Or it can cause mastoiditis & permanent hearing loss, as happened to one patient's grandfather in 1944. Make an informed decision based on the risks of treating--and of not treating--in a specific situation. Re-check ears later, especially if you choose not to treat.
Dr. Kevin Rodbell
Dr. Kevin Rodbell
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Dr. Julia Sundel
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees

In brief: No

Most cases on otitis media are due to viruses.

In brief: No

Most cases on otitis media are due to viruses.
Dr. Julia Sundel
Dr. Julia Sundel
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Dr. Cory Annis
Internal Medicine & Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees

In brief: No

Most ear infections will subside without antibiotics but your child will still need comforting to get adequate rest and boost the immune system. Ibuprofen, elevating the head of the bed (as in two bricks under the front feet of the crib rather than bending the mattress) and numbing drops in the ears at night help the most.

In brief: No

Most ear infections will subside without antibiotics but your child will still need comforting to get adequate rest and boost the immune system. Ibuprofen, elevating the head of the bed (as in two bricks under the front feet of the crib rather than bending the mattress) and numbing drops in the ears at night help the most.
Dr. Cory Annis
Dr. Cory Annis
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Dr. Marcus Degraw
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees

In brief: No

No, not always.
In fact, lots of recent research has demonstrated that many ear infections improve over 48 hours as frequently in untreated infants as in treated infants. Many publications now recommend a more wait-and-see approach to treatment of ear infections, especially in children who are only mildly ill at presention.

In brief: No

No, not always.
In fact, lots of recent research has demonstrated that many ear infections improve over 48 hours as frequently in untreated infants as in treated infants. Many publications now recommend a more wait-and-see approach to treatment of ear infections, especially in children who are only mildly ill at presention.
Dr. Marcus Degraw
Dr. Marcus Degraw
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Dr. Arthur Torre
Pediatrics - Allergy & Asthma
1 doctor agrees

In brief: No

Depending on the age of the child and the severity of the infection, physicians may choose to "watch and wait".
In studies 50% to 70% of ear infections may resolve by themselves with no antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics has created "super germs" with resistance to multiple antibiotics thus we now try to use antibiotics more judiciously.

In brief: No

Depending on the age of the child and the severity of the infection, physicians may choose to "watch and wait".
In studies 50% to 70% of ear infections may resolve by themselves with no antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics has created "super germs" with resistance to multiple antibiotics thus we now try to use antibiotics more judiciously.
Dr. Arthur Torre
Dr. Arthur Torre
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Dr. Dale Tylor
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery - Pediatric

In brief: No!!!

Certain ear infections need antibiotics, such as in babies or with high fever or if there's a ruptured eardrum. It is very possible to observe many ear infection without antibiotics.
It is even recommended in most cases not to take them. Don't just take my word for it: http://www.Cdc.Gov/getsmart/campaign-materials/info-sheets/child-otitismedia.Pdf.

In brief: No!!!

Certain ear infections need antibiotics, such as in babies or with high fever or if there's a ruptured eardrum. It is very possible to observe many ear infection without antibiotics.
It is even recommended in most cases not to take them. Don't just take my word for it: http://www.Cdc.Gov/getsmart/campaign-materials/info-sheets/child-otitismedia.Pdf.
Dr. Dale Tylor
Dr. Dale Tylor
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Dr. Laura Webb
Pediatrics

In brief: No

Most ear infections will go away on their own.
In fact it is recommended not to treat with antibiotics under certain conditions (older than 2 years, first infection, early on in the course). By reducing the use of antibiotics we are helping to decrease a bacteria's ability to become resistant to our current set of antibiotics.

In brief: No

Most ear infections will go away on their own.
In fact it is recommended not to treat with antibiotics under certain conditions (older than 2 years, first infection, early on in the course). By reducing the use of antibiotics we are helping to decrease a bacteria's ability to become resistant to our current set of antibiotics.
Dr. Laura Webb
Dr. Laura Webb
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Dr. Mark Diamond
Pediatrics

In brief: Yes

Although a number of ear infections will improve without antibiotics, the latest research demonstrates more consistant and faster improvement with antibiotic therapy.
And all children under 2 years old are to be treated based upon expert's opinions.

In brief: Yes

Although a number of ear infections will improve without antibiotics, the latest research demonstrates more consistant and faster improvement with antibiotic therapy.
And all children under 2 years old are to be treated based upon expert's opinions.
Dr. Mark Diamond
Dr. Mark Diamond
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Dr. Kevin Windisch
Pediatrics

In brief: Yes

Children under age 2, who are toxic appearing or who have fever should be treated.

In brief: Yes

Children under age 2, who are toxic appearing or who have fever should be treated.
Dr. Kevin Windisch
Dr. Kevin Windisch
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Dr. Jay Park
Pediatrics

In brief: Yes

It has been known that up to 75% of ear infections in children resolve by itself.
The chance to develop a complication (extension of infection beyond middle ear) is higher in children less than 2 years old, and prescribing an antibiotic has been justified. In children over 2 years old, wait-and-see approach, especially for the mild ones, is acceptible and currently recommended.

In brief: Yes

It has been known that up to 75% of ear infections in children resolve by itself.
The chance to develop a complication (extension of infection beyond middle ear) is higher in children less than 2 years old, and prescribing an antibiotic has been justified. In children over 2 years old, wait-and-see approach, especially for the mild ones, is acceptible and currently recommended.
Dr. Jay Park
Dr. Jay Park
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Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics

In brief: Yes

If there is an ear infection, the usual treatment is antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
If there is just some mucous or clear liquid in the middle ear space, but not an obvious infection, then the doctor may choose to observe the patient's progress, instead of using antibiotics.

In brief: Yes

If there is an ear infection, the usual treatment is antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
If there is just some mucous or clear liquid in the middle ear space, but not an obvious infection, then the doctor may choose to observe the patient's progress, instead of using antibiotics.
Dr. Robert Kwok
Dr. Robert Kwok
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