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22.09.17

Ear infections should not be treated with antibiotics, doctors advised

Common ear infections should no longer be treated using antibiotics, NICE has this week recommended.

Publishing new draft guidance into the treatment of ear infections, NICE set out new ways that NHS professionals should treat common ear infections.

Around one in four children experience a middle ear infection before they are 10 years old – but 60% show signs of improvement in 24 hours even without antibiotics.

Because of this, NICE said that from now on it is better to treat children with effective pain relief than by prescribing antibiotics.

“We are all too well aware of the dangers we are facing with antibiotic resistance, so it is vital these medicines are only used when they are effective,” said Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE.

“The evidence shows antibiotics are not needed by most children and young people with middle ear infections. We must make sure the people who need them are given them, but routine prescribing in all cases isn’t appropriate.”

The RCGP said it fully agreed with the new guidance, arguing that as GPs had made “great strides forward” in reducing prescriptions for antibiotics it is important that patients understand they are not always the answer for minor ailments.

The royal college’s chair, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, explained: “Growing resistance to antibiotics is a major global threat – and these important drugs must be used appropriately in order to minimise this, and to ensure that antibiotics continue to work when people really need them, now and in the future.

“If symptoms do persist for more than a few days, we would continue to encourage patients to seek advice from their pharmacist or GP – and this draft guidance retains the option of providing antibiotics as a back-up treatment in these circumstances.

“The college has worked with Public Health England to develop the TARGET antibiotics toolkit to support GPs and other prescribing healthcare professionals to prescribe antibiotics appropriately.”

Top Image: vgajic

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