Health Watch — Ear Care: Ear Infections

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about caring for your ears. Middle ear infections are the most common reason children are prescribed antibiotics, and ear tubes to help treat these infections are the most common reason for surgery in children.

Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says antibiotic ear drops are the best way to treat middle ear infections, especially in children with ear tubes. Using ear drops allows more powerful medicine to go directly to the infected area, and ear tubes give better access to the affected part of the ear. Oral antibiotics tend to cause side effects such as upset stomachs, and that can lead to parents not following through on the full course of treatment on their children. Oral antibiotics can also lead to antibiotic resistance. Studies have shown that while both oral antibiotics and ear drops are effective, infections clear up faster with ear drops.

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September 2008

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