But, as a new study reminds us, the drug merely creates resistance, and does nothing to cure the problem any faster than doing nothing.
In all, 283 children with the ear infection were either given an antibiotic immediately or were told to 'wait-and-see' for 48 hours before taking the drug.
There was no difference between the two groups in terms of fever or otalgia, or ear pain - and yet, interestingly within the 'wait-and-see' sub-group, those who finally took the drug experienced worse fevers and more ear pain.
So there's yet another example that doing nothing first is the best policy - and it's one that has already been adopted in the UK, Holland and other northern European countries for cases of ear infection. Perhaps, now, the USA will follow suit.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006; 296: 1235-41).
E-news broadcast 21 September 2006 No.294 [Subscribe]