[Parentsgroup-list] ear infections and antibiotics

Emily Qazilbash qazilbem at gse.harvard.edu
Tue Nov 6 15:51:23 EST 2007

Hi all -

I was happily overwhelmed with the responses from the list, both those that came just to me and 
those that went to everyone. I thought I might respond individually, but with a sick child at home 
and ignored dissertation work (I know you all can feel my pain!) that is not going to happen this 

Maya ended up getting worse - higher fever, etc - so we took her in again and the pediatrician 
(not our usual one) ended up prescribing antibiotics. I know the ped. is still unsure if it is 
bacterial or viral and is essentially taking the "safe" course of action. I wish I'd asked what 
would happen if we waited on the antibiotics for a day or two - I didn't ask, and we started her 
on them already. All of this info you have provided has been so helpful - in theory I completely 
agree that antibiotics are over-prescribed, and I don't like the potential side-effects (both 
short term and long term). However, when a doctor suggests that she take them, I am not willing to 
risk going against the suggestion based on the little I know about medicine, since it's my 
daughter's health and not my own.

Thank you so much for all of the information, I feel much better armed with knowledge and I'm sure 
we'll face this situation again in the future, in one form or the other.


On Tue, 6 Nov 2007 11:19:49 -0500
  "Marna Costanzo" <mcostanz at fas.harvard.edu> wrote:
> Hi parents,
> The way treatment with antibiotics should ideally work, is that it should be
> confined only to bacterial infections.  Antibiotics are completely
> ineffective in purely viral infections.  The problem with blanket treating
> infections with antibiotics is that is may make future infections that are
> truly bacterial harder to treat.  Bacteria develop antibiotic resistance
> very quickly which would then require the more hard-core antibiotics for
> effective treatment, if they are available.  This is also the reason why you
> should always complete the entire course of antibiotics regardless of the
> presence of symptoms.
> We work on the evolution of bacterial drug-resistance in our lab, so I just
> wanted to share so people would know why a pediatrician may be hesitant to
> prescribe antibiotics.  Of course, when your child is in pain, this may or
> may not seem more important than trying everything in your power to make
> them feel better.
> Marna
> On Nov 5, 2007 9:05 AM, Emily Qazilbash <qazilbem at gse.harvard.edu> wrote:
>> Hi everyone,
>> Our almost-4-year-old ended up in the ER after several hours of
>> unexplained (to us) screaming on
>> Sat. night, and it turns out she has an ear infection. She had no other
>> symptoms before this ER
>> trip, but then yesterday she developed the high fever, etc that often
>> comes with the virus that
>> might cause an ear infection.
>> The ER doctor said he wouldn't recommend antibiotics to treat this ear
>> infection, and I remember
>> our pediatrician saying something a while ago about antibiotics sometimes
>> not being necessary.
>> We've only had one ear infection between our two kids, thankfully, so I
>> don't know much about
>> treatment options. We did give antibiotics for that one, three years ago.
>> I'm happy to not have our daughter on antibiotics, and she seems better
>> this morning after 24
>> hours of a high fever and pain. However, after googling the topic, I'm
>> just curious what others
>> have done. I know I can call our pediatrician and I may do that.
>> Thanks!
>> Emily Kalejs Qazilbash
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