Antimicrobial treatment of ENT infections

Infect Dis Now. 2023 Nov;53(8S):104785. doi: 10.1016/j.idnow.2023.104785. Epub 2023 Sep 18.


Ear, nose and throat (ENT) or upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) are the most common infections in children and the leading causes of antibiotic prescriptions. In most cases, these infections are due to (or are triggered by) viruses and even when bacterial species are implicated, recovery is usually spontaneous. The first imperative is to refrain from prescribing antibiotics in a large number of URTIs: common cold, most cases of sore throat, laryngitis, congestive otitis, and otitis media with effusion. On the contrary, a decision to treat sore throats with antibiotics is based primarily on the positivity of the Group A Streptococcus (GAS) rapid antigen diagnostic tests. For ear infections, only (a) purulent acute otitis media in children under 2 years of age and (b) complicated or symptomatic forms of purulent acute otitis media (PAOM) in older children should be treated with antibiotics. Amoxicillin is the first-line treatment in the most cases of ambulatory ENT justifying antibiotics. Severe ENT infections (mastoiditis, epiglottitis, retro- and parapharyngeal abscesses, ethmoiditis) are therapeutic emergencies necessitating hospitalization and initial intravenous antibiotic therapy.

Keywords: Otitis Media; Sinusitis; Tonsillopharyngitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Otitis Media* / complications
  • Otitis Media* / diagnosis
  • Otitis Media* / drug therapy
  • Pharyngitis* / complications
  • Pharyngitis* / diagnosis
  • Pharyngitis* / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / drug therapy


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents