Antibotics - A guide to Hearing Loss

We are all familiar with antibiotics as these are prescribed for a wide range of infections. Many of us have probably been prescribed these when we were young and they have proved to be a highly successful means of treating disease and infection.

Examples include ear infections, mastoiditis and cholesteatoma.

Over prescription of antibiotics

But in some ways antibiotics have become a victim of their own success. They have been prescribed for so many conditions, and sometimes when they are not really necessary that many infections have become immune to their effects.

This is why we have seen the emergence of ‘superbugs’–strains of bacteria which have become resistant to the effects of antibiotics.

In the majority of ear infections the body’s immune system will fight the infection and this is usually cleared after two to three days.

But if the symptoms appear to be worse or you (or your child) suffers from repeated or chronic ear infections then antibiotics may be needed. Antibiotics are effective for children under two who are at greater risk of complications from an ear infection or disease.

Antibiotics are effective at treating bacterial infections but not against viral infections such as coughs and colds. This is why your GP won’t prescribe antibiotics if you visit him/her with the common cold. Antibiotics are available as drops, tablets, medicine or liquid form via an IV drip. One example is Amoxicillin.

When should they be prescribed?

If you or your child still has an ear infection after 3 days, or if the symptoms have become worse or are accompanied by a discharge from the ear then antibiotics will help. They are also useful if you suffer from repeated ear infections or chronic otitis media.

They can prevent an ear infection from spreading to other parts of the ear or even the brain. But the full course of treatment must be followed even if the symptoms clear up before the end of the treatment.

Side effects of antibiotics

These, like any other type of drug have side effects which include skin rash, vomiting and diarrhoea or more serious complications such as anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis can be fatal so if you or your child experience facial swelling, difficulty in breathing or your airways feel blocked then seek medical advice immediately.

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