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:
Dr. Fred Rossi, a chiropractor from Stirling, New Jersey, wrote:
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.
Another reader warns about the problems of antibiotics with a sad personal story that unfortunately is all too common: