torn about antibiotic use for ear infection - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-05-2013, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My DS is 18 months old and gets ear infections fairly frequently.  Fwiw, he is still BF, doesn't go to daycare, eats a good, mostly organic/unprocessed/vegetarian diet, and takes a vit D supplement regularly.  Since he was about 9 months old, almost every time he's been to the doctor he has had an ear infection.  We treated one of his first with antibiotics.  I was very hesitant to use them, but it wasn't responding to garlic oil drops & other natural immune boosting remedies we tried, and our ND was really pushing abx.  We subsequently found her to be somewhat alarmist and quite pushy about medical interventions in several instances, and quit seeing her over this. 

 

Last week, beginning on New Year's Eve, a stomach virus swept through our family, and hit DS hardest.  He got it first, and days after everyone else has recovered, he's still not 100%.  Another trip to the dr revealed yet another ear infection.  He has been to the doctor 3 times in the last month and a half (sick visit [unrelated- conjunctivitis], well baby/sick follow up, and this week's sick visit) and every time his ears have been red when checked. Now, on the heels of his stomach bug, he's complaining of ear pain and he's very fussy. His ND (this one we're very happy with), wanted us to continue trying to let it run its course for a few more days, but wrote a prescription for antibiotics in the event that his ears were still hurting this weekend.

 

I'm pretty desperate to give the kid some relief.  I have given him ibuprofen a couple of times in the last few days, and we started the antibiotics this morning.  I'm also giving him probiotics, which we do anyway though not religiously, and we'll continue to be consistent with them for a while after the course of abx.

 

Any advice for how, aside from probiotics, I can help him bounce back after antibiotics?  Anybody feel like they're really not that bad?  I could use reassurance, but I'm also open to alternative options and suggestions for things I may not have considered.  It also may be worth mention that we're traveling out of state next week (his first plane ride), and I am worried that if we don't get his illness resolved, or resolving, it may become more of a problem while we're out of town.  So I feel some time pressure in addition to just wanting him to feel better :(


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Old 01-05-2013, 03:08 PM
 
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Could you put drops in his ear instead of taking oral antibiotics?
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Could you put drops in his ear instead of taking oral antibiotics?

We've been using garlic oil drops for about a month now, and very regularly the last several days, but it doesn't seem to be helping.  We've also been using benzocaine drops for the pain.


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Old 01-05-2013, 03:13 PM
 
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I think it's safe to wait a few days and see if an ear infection gets better before you start abx, but beyond that you have to be careful. I've heard that many ear infections are viral, so abx may not help, but you don't ow ahead of time, kwim? Untreated they can lead to hearing loss and delayed speech, so it really is a fine line to walk.

Sorry mama, chronic ear infections really are the worst. Are they checking his ears after each round of abx? Is it possible they're not really clearing up in between? At some point tubes really is the lesser of the evils.
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think it's safe to wait a few days and see if an ear infection gets better before you start abx, but beyond that you have to be careful. I've heard that many ear infections are viral, so abx may not help, but you don't ow ahead of time, kwim? Untreated they can lead to hearing loss and delayed speech, so it really is a fine line to walk.
Sorry mama, chronic ear infections really are the worst. Are they checking his ears after each round of abx? Is it possible they're not really clearing up in between? At some point tubes really is the lesser of the evils.

Thanks.  I totally agree with you.  This will be his 2nd round of abx ever, and after the first (nearly a year ago) they were checked and had cleared up. Because the current, ongoing, ear infection has seemed low level, we'be been doing the wait and see thing for over a month now, and it's not resolving on its own.  Nobody's mentioned tubes yet, probably because most of the time his ears don't seem to be bothering him much, just red and inflamed on inspection.  Right now's a different story, ugh. 


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Old 01-05-2013, 08:39 PM
 
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Chronic ear infections can be a sign of food intolerances. You may want to be on the lookout for other signs that a food is at the heart of the issue. Is the problem in both ears or one? If one, you can wet a washcloth and put tea tree essential oil on it and have him put the ear on the washcloth. Tea tree is penetrating, so keep it out of the ear.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:04 PM
 
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The food intolerance thing is a good point. Dairy and wheat are good places to start.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, good thought, pek, and thanks for the tea tree oil tip. I have some, so I'll give it a try. I know I said "ears" before, but I was being overly general because I treat both ears with drops when he has an ear infection and because abx do a number on the whole system. This time it is his left ear, and the right is ok. I don't remember which ear it was the last time we used abx.

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Old 01-07-2013, 09:34 AM
 
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It's reasonable to wait a few days. But sometimes the body does need help of antibiotics. Prior to antibiotics for ear infections there were a lot more complications--things like mastoiditis.

Of course antibiotics for ear infections are over-used but that doesn't mean they are never needed or helpful. It really sounds, to me, like this is one of those cases.

It's possible the conjunctivitis is connected. Non-typeable Hib bacterial infection causes conjunctivitis and ear infections at the same time. It is bacterial clearly.

My son ended up with mastoiditis with an ear infection. In his case it happened so fast that it was probably going to happen regardless. But I know the "wait and see" approach does result in more complications like mastioditis statistically. Wait and see is still the right approach as it will be enough for most cases. It's just that some bacteria and some ears would benefit from the antibiotic approach.

My son was headed toward tubes for an infection that just wouldn't respond to antibiotics. We made extensive diet changes, supplements to boost the immune system, lots of avoiding colds and similar, and chiropractic c are and avoided those tubes and further ear infections. Then, about 1.5 years later and still dairy, gluten, all the other stuff free, we had one infection and mastoidits. He ended up with surgery including tubes, 2 weeks IV and then a month oral antibiotics, etc. Just like antibiotics ear tubes are over-used. But sometimes they, too, are the right choice.

I think you made the right decision under the circumstances. Do good quality probiotics (I like Florastor during antibiotics) now and after the antibiotic is done. Work on prevention (check into xylitol to prevent ear infections too), consider cranial sacral or chiropractic to teach you a massage to drain ears. This video seems to have a lot like I was shown and this one is different. You have ears, probably with resistant bacteria in biofilms (I suspect that's why xylitol can help; it impacts those biofilms), that clearly have trouble draining. Whatever you can do to help drainage will go a long way. Some kids really do need tubes for drainage. I think we would have avoided the suffering of mastoiditis and those antibiotics had we done them way back when with my son.

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Old 01-07-2013, 11:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, for the encouragement and reassurance, sbgrace. How awful for your son, and for you- that must have been a scary ordeal. I will watch those videos in a sec, thanks for the links.

It's been two days now since we began antibiotics, and I don't know if it's that he's getting some relief from the ear infection, if he's finally feeling better after that stomach bug, or both, but he's back to his usual happy energetic self again, and I'm soooo glad.

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Old 01-08-2013, 03:10 PM
 
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I recently started my 7 year old daughter on abx for an unabating earache that occurred during a family illness similar to the one you describe.  It was her first course of abx ever, so I didn't feel too bad about it.  She had relief after 24 hours.  I tried a bunch of stuff before I finally relented.  Never know unless you try, right....but it just wasn't working and she was miserable.  I think she really got the infection because she is the worst noseblower in the world.  Seriously, my 2 year old does a better noseblowing job than she does.


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