Eradicating Ear Infections
Pediatricians are treating fewer ear infections with antibiotics. Recent guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics say that for kids older than two, doctors should hold off on antibiotics for the first two days while treating the pain. If the child begins to feel better during that time, no antibiotic is needed. This approach, which helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics—and thus the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—is based on the fact that the many ear infections caused by viruses aren't helped by antibiotics; they get better on their own. Only kids who have bacterial ear infections require a prescription. Nothing can replace antibiotics if they're necessary, but below are a few smart prevention and treatment strategies.
Better Baby Care
Get rid of your baby's pacifiers. When he sucks on one, it can create pressure on his eardrums. Also make sure your child is upright when bottle-feeding, so milk doesn't drip into the ear canals, setting up a bacteria-friendly environment.
A daily dose can make a difference, because "it influences the immune system to produce cells that help kill off an infection," Gereau Haddon says. "It's also a great anti-inflammatory." In a study of 94 children, ages six months to five years, the half given cod liver oil and a multivitamin daily for six months had fewer doctor visits for upper respiratory infections (including ear infections) during that time than the half who didn't take supplements.
This technique has shown promise with children ages six months and older who get chronic ear infections. It involves a licensed practitioner, often an osteopath, very gently manipulating your child's head, neck, and back to enhance the functioning of the membranes and fluid around the brain and spinal cord. "Ear infections could be a sign of the eustachian tube in the ear needing realignment," Gereau Haddon explains. A recent study at Oklahoma State University found that children with recurrent ear infections who received osteopathic manipulation as well as routine pediatric care had fewer infections and were less likely to need ear tubes than those who received just routine care. Go to the Web site of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners, for referrals to craniosacral therapists.