Why Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer

By Max Pitlosh, MD

Unfortunately, in America we have gotten in the habit of giving antibiotics for ear infections, and for the vast majority of patients, they expect antibiotics to be prescribed.

There has been evidence for over a decade in Europe and Canada that supports pain relief over antibiotics for children with ear infections, and that has been their practice. There is a difference between what society and tradition say we should do — which is to prescribe the antibiotics — versus what the latest scientific information tells us to do: ease the symptoms.

For sinus infections, the evidence is very similar to ear infections. The treatments of choice for a sinus infection are decongestants, pain relievers and using a humidifier along with a nasal rinse. Antibiotics may be used if the infection doesn’t respond. But it can be difficult to determine whether a sinus or ear infection is due to a virus that won’t respond to antibiotics or a bacterial infection that might. Continue reading