Treating Ear Infections: Forgo the Antibiotics

Contrary to what we’ve been told up to now, antibiotics may not be the best medicine for your child’s ear infection!  A recent study in the British Medical Journal has shown that treating with antibiotics can actually increase the chances of relapse!  So what is the best medicine? Possibly no medicine at all!

CBS News reports that more than 75 percent of kids before the age of 5 have an ear infection, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Ear infections have routinely been treated with antibiotics, but now, new research suggests the best medicine may be no medicine at all.  There is substantial evidence to show that about 80 percent of ear infections clear up without antibiotics, and with no ill effects.

What you may not have known is that most ear infections are caused by viruses, which are not treatable with antibiotics anyway.”  Everyone involved may have to work on their patience, but letting the ear infection run its course may be your best option.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is about to update its guidelines. The new “rules” will say that unless the child is very young or very sick, a doctor should employ “watchful waiting” — monitoring the child’s health. Your doctor might prescribe a safety net antibiotic prescription (SNAP) to be filled only if the child has not improved within 48 to 72 hours.

However, current guidelines suggest that some children should still get antibiotics:

• Are under age 2
• Appear seriously ill with fever of 102F or higher
• Have fluid dripping from the ears
• Have a double ear infection (both ears infected)

If you still don’t believe your child’s ear infection will heal best on its own, you should be aware of some side effects caused by antibiotic. The most serious side effect, she said, is antibiotic resistance.  In about 10 to 20 percent of children, Ashton said, antibiotics can cause upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea. Less frequently, they can cause rashes.

You want to avoid over-use of antibiotics to avoid antibiotic resistance, which makes the next bug tougher to treat. The next time your doctor prescribes amoxicillin, the most common one for kids, it might not work. Doctors would be wise to head this new research, but in 84 percent of cases, they still prescribe antibiotics.  It may be up to  parents to decide that antibiotics may not be the best medicine, and forgo.

“Pediatricians are now focusing on pain relief,” CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said. “Children screaming in pain will not get relief from an antibiotic in the first 24 hours. They should be given ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), and sometimes prescription ear drops can ease the pain.”

**Side Note: I only had one experiences with ear infections when my daughter was a baby, a few years ago. The doctor gave me a choice of antibiotics or a homeopathic remedy. I decided to try the homeopathic remedy, and it worked wonderfully. The ear infection may have gone away on it’s own, but the pain subsided very quickly and gave us no more problems!

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