Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ear infections, antibiotics, kids and asthma

Checking the health news today, I see that there are a few things making the top stories. One story caught my eye; it’s about antibiotics given to young children may lead to higher incidences of asthma. My three children, especially the oldest and the youngest, had many, many ear infections. The newest thinking is that not all such infections need to be treated with antibiotics. However, when you’re up at 3 in the morning with an infant who is screaming because he is in so much pain from a double ear infection, and you can’t get his fever down with the appropriate medications, I personally find it hard to believe that antibiotics aren’t the answer.

Of my three, my middle one had the fewest ear infections – and she’s the one with medication-controlled asthma. Luckily, she’s in a period where the asthma is not active, but when it is, she is on long-term asthma treatment. The two boys, the ones with multiple, treated, ear infections are relatively asthma-free. The youngest does have a cold-induced asthma attack occasionally.

Of course, my story is anecdotal. My asthma isn’t antibiotic related, but I did grow up in a home with smoking parents. I remember being in the car with the windows closed and my father smoking a pipe even. It’s not hard to see the connection there, in my opinion.

I’m not saying that we aren’t over using antibiotics, I do believe we are. Many people insist on getting antibiotics for viral infections even though antibiotics will do absolutely nothing for them. I remember patients even insisting on them for colds. I would hope that the doctors wouldn’t give in to the pressure of handing out antibiotics like that, but some do, unfortunately.

Asthma is a scary illness – I know that from the point of view as a parent of a child with it, from the point of view as a patient, and also from the point of view of a nurse who has cared for patients in status asthmaticus, the emergency situation of severe asthma. I guess we all must be a little more careful about what we do and how we do it, even in terms of getting our kids antibiotics for their ear infections. Would I do the same thing again if I could do it all over? I don’t know but I have to admit, probably. Ear pain is horrendous and untreated ear infections can cause serious problems. When my son was screaming in pain from his sore ears, I find it hard to think that I’d be able to look down the road and think about how treating him now may affect him in the future. I just wanted my little guy to feel better.

Today's News:

Antibiotic use before age one linked to asthma
Worriers show higher risk for age-related memory loss: study
Please shake my hand, patients tell doctors

1 comment:

Sue said...

I so lucked out not having kids who had ear aches.