I like reading the parenting magazines that come for free to our office. I
think it helps to see what parents are reading about.
The October 2000 Child had an article about '5 fascinating findings about
ear infections' that I thought I would share. While I am very much against
overusing antibiotics, I think this article was very misleading for parents.
1) Prevnar may reduce the number of ear infections by 20%.
I agree with that one, although what I have read is that it may decrease the
number of ear infections in children that get recurrent ear infections. Not
a big deal though.
2) "Up to 80% of children diagnosed with ear infections don't actually have
Now that just can't be true. I can see occasionally misdiagnosing an otitis
media with effusion as an acute otitis, but 80% of the time?
3) Only 2/3 of ear infections are caused by bacteria and only 1/3 are
treatable through antibiotics.
I think that were trying to say that only 1/3 need to be treated, although
even that is very controversial right now.
4) Children who ... chewed gum with xylitol had 40% fewer ear infections.
Don't they have to chew it every 4 hours or so though? The article doesn't
mention this and makes it sound like just casual chewing will reduce ear
5) "Without using a needle to extract fluid from the middle ear" ...
"diagnosing an ear infection is really guesswork."
It may be true that we are treating empirically and don't really know which
organism is causing the infection, but I would hardly say that this
treatment was 'guesswork.' Maybe I'm too sensitive, but I think parents
would read that statement (especially if taken with the above statement that
their kids are misdiagnosed 80% of the time) and think that we don't know
what we are doing.
Vincent Iannelli, MD