Ear Infections – Do Antibiotics Speed Recovery Time?

Ear InfectionOne of the most frequent causes for visits to the pediatrician is the dreaded ear infection.  Unfortunately, antibiotics are still frequently prescribed, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made the recommendation for a “wait and see” approach. This is due to research that shows that antibiotics do not speed recovery time. In addition, antibiotics kill off the “good” bacteria that reside in our GI and respiratory tract, making us even more susceptible to illness. Not to mention the current problems with antibiotic resistant bacteria because of unnecessary antibiotic use.

Luckily, there are things that you can do to both treat and prevent ear infections.

  • Upright feeding as much as possible.
    The eustachian tubes of infants are much shorter than adults, allowing
    fluid to accumulate and cause inflammation.  Feeding at a slight angle
    allows for more drainage and less accumulation.
  • Use immune support as soon as baby starts to get the sniffles.
    Again, because of the shorter eustachian tubes, extra fluid due to a
    cold can increase the chances of eardrum inflammation. Great things to
    try include vitamin C, probiotics, larch tree, vitamin A, and Zinc. Of
    course you should work with a practitioner to determine the correct
    dosage for your infant.
  • Ear drops. The same research that found that antibiotics were ineffective, also found that ear drops containing things such as garlic, mullein, and hypericum, were more effective than doing nothing and helped to relieve pain. However, you should be sure that the ear drum is intact before putting anything into the ear.
  • Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is protective both because of the immune components of the breast milk, as well as the larger motion of the jaw that an infant has to use (promoting movement in the eustachian tube area), as
    compared to using a bottle.
  • Avoiding allergens. This can be food and/or environmental. Using a hepa filter, removing
    stuffed animals from the crib, and using a hypoallergenic laundry
    detergent may be helpful for sensitive infants. Food considerations – if
    breastfeeding, consider eliminating dairy and wheat, or other known
    food sensitivities.
  • Homeopathy. Finding a qualified homeopathic practitioner can help with chronic ear infection conditions. During an acute phase, remedies like chamomile (extreme fussiness, better with fast rocking), pulsatilla (whimpering/whining, better being carried) or belladonna (extreme pain, red face, screaming) can be tried and are very safe and effective for infants.

It is unlikely that you will be able to avoid the occasional ear infection, but using the above tips will keep the frequency and duration to a minimum. Ear tubes should be a last resort if other avenues have been tried with no relief.

We would love to hear your thoughts or comments.  Just enter them below.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to Ask Dr. Tara. Good Luck!!

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