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5 Treatment Alternatives To Antibiotics For Ear Infections In Children and Adults

Ear infections can be quite painful in children and even adults. Children will often pull on their ears, seem distressed or have a fever. There are several types of ear infections but the most problematic is acute otitis media (AOM). Antibiotics are routinely prescribed for these infections to avoid mastoiditis or a perforated eardrum. In certain cases antibiotics may be necessary to treat these infections, but the vast majority of the time they are not indicated.

In a recent study, two groups of children with ear infections were treated differently[1],[2]. One group was given antibiotics and the other a placebo. Those that were treated with antibiotics had a 41% decrease in pain after 2-7 days vs. placebo, but also had twice the side effects consisting of diarrhea, rash and vomiting. There were no medical complications in the non-antibiotic group. The authors stated, “Early use of antibiotics provides only modest benefit for acute otitis media: to prevent one child from experiencing pain by 2-7 days after presentation, 17 children must be treated with antibiotics early”. In other words, with antibiotic treatment there was no change in the actual length of the infection, just modest symptomatic relief. My hunch is the non-antibiotic group would have had less pain if they had used some of the suggestions below that I have found to be very effective.

I have found five easy ways to treat children and even adults for ear infections that don’t require antibiotics:

  1. Tincture of mullein oil, garlic and thyme. Place three warm drops into the ear two times a day. The tincture can be warmed by holding it in your hands or placing in warm water. This formula acts as an antimicrobial and helps soothe the ear pain.

  2. Onion poultice: Cut an onion in half and warm it slightly in the oven. Lie on your side and place the wider side against the infected ear for 10 minutes. The onion emits anti-microbial oils and soothes the ear. You can do this two to three times a day.

  3. Homeopathics: Some of the more common remedies are Belladona, Chamomilla, Mullein, and Pulsatilla. See The Homeopathy Center for how to dose these. You can also just use a Nosode homeopathic that contains several different remedies that can be very effective.

  4. Colloidal Silver is a great booster to the immune system and can be taken orally to fight bacterial and viral infections. We personally like the brand Argentym 23 as it seems to have the best results.

  5. Take a probiotic. There is an excellent article in the journal Pediatrics that studied two groups of children during the flu season. One group took a probiotic containing lactobacillus and bifidobacterium and another group that took a placebo. The group that took the probiotic had a 72% reduction in fevers, 62% reduction in in cough, 58% in runny noses, a 84% reduction in antibiotic use and 27% reduction in absent days.[3]

If you have any questions please feel free to ask us at Seattle Natural Health.

[1] BMJ. 1997 May 24;314(7093):1526-9).

[2] Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD000219.

[3] Pediatrics, 2009, 124, e172-e179

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