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What to do about an ear infection?

by (693)
Updated about 16 hours ago
Created December 07, 2010 at 2:00 PM

I have a 5 year old that has an ear infection. Of course the doctor prescribed antibiotics but we'd rather not. I'm wondering if we should use the antibiotics and give her some probiotics to help with the gut flora or just try garlic oil (or something else?) and make sure she doesn't get too bad. Any thoughts or suggestions?

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11557 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Antibiotics can be effective if, as you said, the infections are prolonged and severe. My mom treated one of my brothers ear infections with garlic oil, and it lasted for about 96 hours (4 days) before she took him to the GP. GP sent us straight to emergency and was concerned there would be hearing damage. It's not super common, but our doc says he sees a few a year that are risky and do need antibiotic treatment and intervention if antibiotics were not administered in the early stages of infection.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194
11557 · March 09, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Be a little careful though- my brother got an ear infection that my mom was just treating with garlic, and it got pretty bad, took him to the GP and he sent my mom straight to emergency. Lesson: don't wait longer than 72 hours before getting it checked, especially if child is in pain consistently.

209d2fc1f43df88348031c7c38077172
693 · December 08, 2010 at 8:11 AM

We're going to go hold off on the antibiotics and go with garlic oil and heat for now. Thanks for all the input!

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826 · December 07, 2010 at 2:36 PM

My son had his last ear infection at 3 and the garlic and onion oil did the trick.

209d2fc1f43df88348031c7c38077172
693 · December 07, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Thanks Pieter. I was looking at that, but was wondering if there were other treatments for kids. Plus I'm a little paranoid since it's my baby girl. Just didn't want to miss anything. :-)

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8 Answers

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64
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11478 · December 07, 2010 at 2:34 PM

There are 2 common types of "ear infections"--external ear infection, also known as "swimmer's ear," and middle ear infection, aka "acute otitis media."

Swimmer's ear can be treated with acidification of the ear canal by acetic acid (vinegar) drops, or with antibiotic drops. Alcohol drops (such as "Swim-Ear") or a hair dryer (to dry the ear canal) can be used for prevention. Vinegar can also be used for prevention.

Middle ear infections are not accessible to ear drops unless the eardrum is perforated (ruptured). However, middle ear infections do not require immediate antibiotic treatment, as they will resolve spontaneously about 80% of the time. You can wait up to 72hr. for an ear infection to resolve without antibiotics. This approach is known as "watchful waiting." Meanwhile, you can treat with pain relievers and a heating pad.

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2283 · December 07, 2010 at 2:23 PM

With my daughter, when she was a baby, she got a few ear infections. We went the antibiotic route and she got thrush. Antibiotics are good for some things, I just don't feel that ear infections are one of them. After her ear infection came back, I decided to not give her the medicine and just wait it out. She is 5 now and hasnt had one since then (4 years)! The garlic oil, probiotics, and good healthy food will probably be enough to heal her ear. Also, if you know anyone who is breatfeeding, you can use a dropper and and drip some breastmilk into her ear. It is amazing how quickly this heals earaches.

F53a74de3f8df19a114c5ac702af2b12
826 · December 07, 2010 at 2:36 PM

My son had his last ear infection at 3 and the garlic and onion oil did the trick.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194
11557 · March 09, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Be a little careful though- my brother got an ear infection that my mom was just treating with garlic, and it got pretty bad, took him to the GP and he sent my mom straight to emergency. Lesson: don't wait longer than 72 hours before getting it checked, especially if child is in pain consistently.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3
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20787 · December 08, 2010 at 5:30 AM

Recent research has found no improvement in recovery time for those kids who took antibiotics for ear infections vs those kids who did not take antibiotics for ear infections. THis research has prompted some doctors to suggest not giving antibiotics for ear infections unless the infection is prolonged and severe. But really, from what I have seen of recent research, the mainstream doctors have no evidence of any effective treatment for ear infections whatsoever. Even the drains they used to tout have not shown any evidence of increasing healing time or cutting back on infections compared to those who did not get drains. So personally, I think there is not scientific reason to give antibiotics for ear infections given the current state of knowledge. Why give medication when there is no evidence of it being effective?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194
11557 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Antibiotics can be effective if, as you said, the infections are prolonged and severe. My mom treated one of my brothers ear infections with garlic oil, and it lasted for about 96 hours (4 days) before she took him to the GP. GP sent us straight to emergency and was concerned there would be hearing damage. It's not super common, but our doc says he sees a few a year that are risky and do need antibiotic treatment and intervention if antibiotics were not administered in the early stages of infection.

B76f22ed4373946b3c8990b667562683
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783 · December 07, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Hey Dale, Chiropractic has been found to be incredibly powerful in clearing up middle ear infections in children. Chiropractic adjustment facilitates draining of the fluid that builds up in the ear and allows for a build of up natural antibodies once the fluid is cleared; a safe, drugless solution. You can read more about it here. Hope that helps!

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1348 · December 07, 2010 at 3:09 PM

I had one last year, it hurt so bad. I can't see how anyone can deal with it. The only relief I had was hot towels. I had people tell me candling helped too.

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1354 · December 07, 2010 at 2:19 PM

It is a tough decision when it is your little one. A couple of thoughts:

  1. Look for a good naturopath in your area that you can trust for future issues.
  2. Research some natural remedies (i.e. hydrogen peroxide) in ears
  3. Definitely Paleo without dairy
  4. Invest in an ear scope and learn how to look yourself for comparison (my husband looks in my kids ears)
  5. Check out earthclinic.com for people's home remedies
  6. I believe that there is some evidence that these do clear up most often on their own within a few days

If fear outweighs common sense (has for me in prior occasions, but I have not been Paleo with the kids when they have had one), definitely do the probiotics.

Hoping your baby girl is better soon.

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0 · December 07, 2010 at 2:18 PM

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10289 · December 07, 2010 at 2:02 PM
209d2fc1f43df88348031c7c38077172
693 · December 07, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Thanks Pieter. I was looking at that, but was wondering if there were other treatments for kids. Plus I'm a little paranoid since it's my baby girl. Just didn't want to miss anything. :-)

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