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Children with common ear infections should not get antibiotics, NICE says

Children with common ear infections should not be given antibiotics, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says.

Children with common ear infections should not be given antibiotics, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says in draft guidance.

It says parents should treat the infections with paracetamol or ibuprofen instead.

The NICE guidance relates to acute otitis media, an infection of the middle ear that is common in children and young people.

NICE found that about 60% of children will show signs of improvement, such as reduced pain, within 24 hours even if they have not taken antibiotics.

Dangers

NICE said some children may need antibiotics immediately, such as those who are very unwell or have symptoms of a more serious illness.

Children with a discharge from the ear caused by a burst ear drum should be offered antibiotics immediately or given a prescription to use if symptoms do not improve or worsen

Children with common ear infections should not be given antibiotics, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says in draft guidance.

ear
Picture: iStock

It says parents should treat the infections with paracetamol or ibuprofen instead.

The NICE guidance relates to acute otitis media, an infection of the middle ear that is common in children and young people.

NICE found that about 60% of children will show signs of improvement, such as reduced pain, within 24 hours even if they have not taken antibiotics.

Dangers

NICE said some children may need antibiotics immediately, such as those who are very unwell or have symptoms of a more serious illness.

Children with a discharge from the ear caused by a burst ear drum should be offered antibiotics immediately or given a prescription to use if symptoms do not improve or worsen within three days.

NICE deputy chief executive and director of health and social care Gillian Leng said: 'Once finalised, our advice will support GPs and healthcare professionals to decide whether or not to use antibiotics.

'We are all too well aware of the dangers we are facing with antibiotic resistance, so it is vital these medicines are only used when they are effective.

Routine prescribing

'The evidence shows antibiotics are not needed by most children and young people with middle ear infections.

'We must make sure the people who need them are given them, but routine prescribing in all cases isn't appropriate.'

The draft guidance comes a few days after the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned parents that antibiotics are unsuitable for many common conditions.

In a posting on Facebook it said: 'Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections like the common cold, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus and ear infections.

'Taking antibiotics can also have harmful side effects for you or your child.'

Global emergency

Figures suggest one in four children will have at least one middle ear infection before they reach the age of 10.

The infections are most common between the ages of six and 15 months.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the world is running out of antibiotics.

It said growing antimicrobial resistance to the drugs could 'seriously jeopardise' progress made in modern medicine.

The WHO described antimicrobial resistance as 'a global health emergency'.


Further information

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