Don't Treat Your Child's Ears With Antibiotics

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November 30, 2006 | 16,386 views

Ear infections (also called acute otitis media, or AOM) have generally been considered bacterial diseases, which means that they are usually treated with antibiotics.

But new research indicates that viruses are found in a great many ear infection cases, which could complicate treatment.

Researchers found bacteria in 92 percent of AOM cases, viruses in 70 percent, and both bacteria and viruses in 66 percent. The lead author of the study pointed out that this only made sense, as ear infections are "virtually always connected to viral respiratory infection."

Antibiotics have no effect on the viruses found in AOM infections, which means that the standard treatment is at best only partially effective for most cases. However, many cases of AOM heal themselves without antibiotic treatment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians have therefore recommended avoiding antibiotic treatment in mild AOM cases.

The presence of viruses is another important reason not to fall back on antibiotics to treat your child's ear infections, as is the fact that they can harm their permanent teeth. Overprescribing antibiotics -- especially in the presence of a virus, on which they will have no effect at all -- doesn't do your child, or his or her ears, any good.

I'm certainly not opposed to their use in every circumstance, just to the reliance on them in situations where they are obviously of little or no use. In my experience that is well over 95 percent of the time.

Some simple dietary methods to remedy ear infections: Switch your child from pasteurized milk to raw milk as well as eliminate processed sugars and wheat products from his or her diet. And, for some quick relief late at night, try the effective methods described in an article written by Dr. Colleen Huber last year.

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The most popular post was one encouraging the use of chiropractic treatment for ear infections. I would strongly affirm this modality as it is quite common for structural issues to be a significant factor for recurrent infections. A nutrionist wrote the following:

"One remedy that was very effective for my children was chiropractic adjustments. Simple and painless adjustments would open up the eustachian tubes and allow the fluid that was clogging up in the middle ear to drain freely and reduce the risk of infection. It a great treatment! I highly recommend you give it a try next time before you put your child on another round of antibiotics."

 Dr. Fred Rossi, a chiropractor from Stirling, New Jersey, wrote:

"I've helped hundreds of children with ear infections by assuring their cervical vertebra were properly aligned; this allows for the muscles to relax and the lymphatic system to drain the fluid in the ears.  It also removes interference from the nervous system to allow optimal function of the immune system. 

My most difficult cases have been when there have been multiple doses of antibiotics taken by the child.  The Journal of American Medical Association published an article on how amoxicillin caused more ear infections four to six weeks after the antibiotic was taken.  It is akin to calling the fire department to put out a campfire then they spray the surrounding woods instead of the fire.  With gentle chiropractic adjustments the child can heal on their own, as nature intended."

One reader offered an interesting natural remedy. I personally have found breast milk dropped into the ear to be very useful. The only challenge is to find a fresh source of breast milk.

"Our 10-year-old had several earaches as a young baby and child -- often after a cold. We never used pharmaceutical antibiotics, instead we used a tiny drop of herbal eardrop oil to soothe the ear. We just put a wee drop in each ear then soaked up excess with cotton or tissue. 

The pesticide-herbicide free garlic, Comfrey, St. Johns Wort and olive oil preparation that we used was from St. Francis Organic Herb Farm in Ontario, Canada. Their ear oil seemed the least odorous and most effective for us. In every case of earache within 15 minutes the ear ache pain cleared up completely and within the hour the ear problems were gone."

"I have used  a mixture of  10 drops Lavender oil and  30 drops olive oil. Warm to body temp. Put 5 drops in ear canal while child is lying down so it can drip down. It tickles them and might feel strange but it works! If you use at night, the pain is gone in the morning!"

Another reader warns about the problems of antibiotics with a sad personal story that unfortunately is all too common:

"Not only that but some of the antibiotics have extremely dangerous side effects. My sister-in-law  just died from an allergic reaction to levaquin two weeks ago. It caused her to slip into a coma from the toxicity of the drug to the liver which spread to her brain; another tasty side effect of the drug is multi system organ failure which also happened to her.

All of these reactions can come from just one dose of the drug. Its actually on the good old fda's watch list (ha ha) so you know it has to be pretty bad."

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