Wednesday, November 17, 2010


A couple of months ago, Sylvia had a really bad fever--like 103.5 degrees. Needless to say, it was very worrisome and, since it (predictably) happened on a weekend (oh, yeah, and since the doctor our oh-so-intelligent insurance company assigned her to isn't actually a pediatrician), we took her to an urgent care center to see a doctor. Over the course of the hour or so it took for us to be seen, Sylvia's temperature dropped to less than 100, so by the time we saw the doctor, I was feeling rather sheepish about having her there.

But no need to worry--the doctor took Sylvia's former temperature seriously, checked her thoroughly, diagnosed an ear infection, and sent us on our way with a prescription for antibiotics and a bottle of bubble solution.

The paperwork given along with the prescription said that something like 2/3 of ear infections are caused by a virus, which said to us there was a 2/3 chance the antibiotics wouldn't do anything, so we decided to wait and see if Sylvia got better on her own before filling the prescription. In our case, that was the right thing to do--Sylvia was better by Monday and has been none the worse for wear.

I found it odd, though, that the doctor didn't suggest we wait a few days to see if Sylvia would get better on her own. Apparently, given the quantity of antibiotics prescribed for ear infections very few doctors tell people to wait it out, or very few people listen to that advice. As grateful as I am to have antibiotics, it bothers me a bit we use them so freely, given their expense and the possible complications they can produce in the form of antibiotic-resistant microbes.


  1. I agree with you. Rx are prescribed way too often. People take their kids to the doctor for every little runny nose. Makes me wonder how I made it to adulthood.

  2. Very interesting... thanks for the info. I totally agree. I am so sorry Sylvia had such a high temperature :( hopefully that won't happen again!

  3. I actually didn't know that some ear infections are viral. I've never been told that. Would have liked to know that sooner. I guess I'll have to be a much better advocate for my children in the future and research things myself. Thanks for the info.

  4. We took one of the kids to the urgent care and the doctor specifically told us that it probably was viral and that we didn't need to fill the prescription he would give us. He told us some signs to look for that would probably indicate that we should give the child the antibiotics, otherwise, he basically said, "it can't hurt waiting it out."

    So yeah, I've felt like the dr.s we've seen have been pretty upfront about our options, luckily. I'm also a total medical skeptic, about just about everything -- ask Hans, it drives him crazy.

  5. Glad the article was interesting and useful :)

    I think we've become more skeptical, too. I'm sure Derrick and I started out a bit more critical anyway (what's a science degree good for if not questioning anything anybody else claims, right?) but after spending so much time with a doctor during my pregnancy, and after hearing so many other women's stories about childbirth, I've started to think of medicine as more of an art with practitioners that really can handle situations very differently.