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Ear Infections

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13-month-old Jordyn Reid has been suffering with chronic ear infections.

"Tugging at her ear and hand in her mouth," says mother Jeannine Reid.

Her big sister two-and-half-year old Julia used to get them too.

"She spiked really high fevers, she wouldn't eat, she wouldn't sleep. It was very uncomfortable for her."

Diagnosing and treating ear infections isn't always easy for doctors. Now the American Academy of Pediatrics is updating its guidelines for children ages six months to 12 years so doctors can make a more accurate diagnosis and decide the best treatment.

"The children who benefit most from starting antibiotics promptly are those who have severe ear infections, meaning those who have high fevers, have discharge or ruptured ear drum," says Dr. Richard Rosenfeld of SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Ear infections are the most common reason doctors prescribe antibiotics for children in the United States. Doctors hope the new guidelines will help physicians make better decision about who needs antibiotics.

Doctors are advised to examine the ear drum, if it's not bulging children should not get antibiotics.

"About two thirds of the kids get better without using the antibiotics."

The recommendation for most children is to wait and watch and treat with pain killers. Antibiotics may be needed if the symptoms don't improve after three days.

And in severe cases, like the Reid sisters, ear tube surgery is necessary to get the problem under control .

Julia is doing better since her surgery a year ago. And Jordyn hasn't had any issues since she got her tubes earlier this month.

The new guidelines also recommend breastfeeding exclusively for at least four to six months because studies show it can reduce ear infections.

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