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Antibiotics don't help earaches

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Antibiotics are largely ineffective in treating recurring ear infection in children, according to an analysis of 33 studies looking at this method of treatment

Antibiotics are largely ineffective in treating recurring ear infection in children, according to an analysis of 33 studies looking at this method of treatment.

After reviewing the earlier studies, American researchers conclude that antibiotics are of 'limited' use in treating acute otitis media (AOM), 'requiring treatment of nine children to show an improved outcome in one.'

The effect of antibiotics is also limited in the treatment of otitis media with effusion (discharge). 'Six patients need to be treated to improve the outcome in one . . . And [im-provement] is of relative short duration. 'One month or more after treatment is completed, there is no statistically significant improvement with controls.' They conclude that the lack of any long-term improvement undermines one of the principle rationales for administering the drugs.

'As a major goal of treatment of [otitis media with effusion] is the prevention of language or developmental delays due to hearing deficits, the lack of long-term effectiveness leads one to question the value of antibiotic treatment.' - JAMA, 15 September 1993.


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