Most antibiotics are given in pill or liquid form.
Why It Is Used
Antibiotics often clear up a
bacterial ear infection. Amoxicillin is an antibiotic often chosen for treating
ear infections. It works well and costs less than other brands.
Doctors sometimes prescribe antibiotics to prevent infections in children
who are prone to repeated ear infections (recurrent otitis media). But experts
disagree on how helpful this is.
How Well It Works
Antibiotics are effective in most
cases of ear infections caused by bacteria. But only 1 out of 5 children with
ear infections needs antibiotics to clear an ear infection. In 4 out of 5
children, ear infections clear on their own.1
A child with an ear infection should feel better within 48 hours after
taking antibiotics. If your child doesn't feel better, call your doctor. Your
child may need a different antibiotic.
Some doctors suggest
antibiotics for children who don't have symptoms but are prone to repeat ear
infections. Studies show that this preventive method doesn't always
work.1 Taking antibiotics when they may not be needed
can lead to new types of bacteria that can't be killed (antibiotic-resistant bacteria). This means that
children may not respond to an antibiotic when they really need it, such as if
they get pneumonia.
Antibiotics may help with fluid behind the
eardrum that won't go away (chronic otitis media with effusion). But the fluid
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor if you have:
Black or bloody stools.
Unusual bleeding or bruising.
Fever and chills.
Common side effects of this medicine include:
Nausea or vomiting.
Vaginal discharge or itching.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
not be effective if the ear infection is caused by a
virus. Waiting before starting an antibiotic can keep your child from taking
medicine that he or she doesn't need.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.