New Pediatric Guidelines for Symptomless Ear Infections Published
Physicians should wait at least three months before actively treating symptomless ear infections in children, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics published on Monday in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics, the AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. According to the guidelines, although some cases of symptomless ear infections -- also known as otitis media with effusion, or fluid in the middle ear -- require treatment, at least 75% resolve themselves without care within three months. Physicians should consider surgery -- in most cases the implantation of ear tubes -- to treat symptomless ear infections after four months or in cases in which children experience continued hearing loss, according to the guidelines. The guidelines also recommend that physicians not prescribe antihistamines and decongestants for symptomless ear infections because they are ineffective as treatments. Symptomless ear infections, which affect more than two million U.S. children each year, account for an estimated $4 billion in annual health care costs. According to CDC, physicians prescribe at least six million unnecessary courses of antibiotics each year for symptomless ear infections (AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 5/3). The guidelines are available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.