Ear Infections & Antibiotics

That dreaded day when your child has his or her first ear infection is a big bummer for me, and I mean a BIG bummer.


That day has come to the Hopkins’ house for my youngest son who is 2 and here I am blogging about it. Now I’m sure you are thinking, “what is the big deal?” I know, I know, kids get ear infections all the time. It’s normal, and I agree with you. It’s definitely not the end of the world but I have an inner voice that has been growing and I just can’t seem to ignore it. I’ve been on a journey for roughly 3 years now and virtually everything I used to think was normal is being challenged.

It all started when I began researching the natural birthing techniques. From that I was introduced to a wide variety of natural foods, natural skin care remedies, essential oils, herbs, and something called a probiotic. As soon as I read about the literal war going on in our digestive systems between probiotics and antibiotics I was ruined. I needed to know more and thus began a 3 year journey. Read more on the growing concern over antibiotics.

Today, my concern is that my son is in the 60- 80% of kids who take antibiotics for viruses. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections, not viruses and Dr’s don’t usually concern themselves over the distinction when they are prescribing. If the ear drum or surrounding parts look red, or swollen or irritated, they prescribe antibiotics. The problem is that most ear infections are caused by other viruses (the common cold) that will eventually run their course and go away. When we take antibiotics, our bodies build immunity to the drug and eventually after long term exposure the drugs don’t work as effectively when we really need them to for serious or life threatening infections.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that, in some situations, measures to control pain should be instituted before going straight to antibiotics. Using too many antibiotics on a global level has led to “stronger, resistant” bacteria surviving. The increased survival of these “resistant” bacteria has led to difficulty in treating bacterial infections with antibiotics when we really need them. If we stop using antibiotics for every viral infection the surge of “resistant” bacteria will subside.”   Read more

Now I may sound a little crunchy, but I promise you I do appreciate balance in everything. I do think there are very sound reasons to use antibiotics and THAT is why I am struggling tonight with this decision. As I was reading about ear infections in particular, there are some guidelines to follow if you happen to not have a PhD after your name. Like me 🙂
  • children under 2 who have a high fever
  • double ear infections
  • children who have fluids coming out of their ear

My son seems to fit 2 of these criteria. He has had a fever for 3 days. (101-103 degrees) He also has a lot of fluid in his ear, so much so that the Dr. could not see his ear drum. It’s not leaking out of his ear, but as we learned in chemistry lab, bacteria like to grow in wet places. This gives me a slight bend towards that fact that this ear infection, his very first, indeed may be a bacterial one that needs an antibiotic. As I pour that pink liquid into the measuring cup, I shudder to think of all of those wonderful live probiotics in his digestive tract that will be wiped out by this antibiotic. I also shudder to think of how many times I rushed to give my daughter, now 7, antibiotics as a toddler without really understanding the consequences. As a woman who loves her children dearly, I feel the heavy responsibility that God has entrusted to me to care for them, and I must trust that when I make a mistake, God is there to fix it.

6 thoughts on “Ear Infections & Antibiotics”

  • Great post! I agree with you wholeheartedly and just had to put my almost three year old (for the first time) and my 5 1/2 year old (for the second time) on Antibiotics. I suffered for many from the ill affects of too many antibiotics. Even the fact that you are aware will be helpful to your son as most people dish out the pink stuff without thought. I’m sure that you’re supplementing with probiotics and you’re being vigilant about not giving them when they aren’t necessary. I have heard parents say that they went in for a check up and their child wasn’t sick, didn’t have any pain, but the doctor said that they had an ear infection so they treated it— if the kid’s not sick and not in pain- Why???!!

    • Yes, she needs to take them or she will either get worse bceuase there is still an infection in her blood or the next time she is sick she will need stronger and longer meds.At most pharmacies, they have the squirter syringes so you can get it in the back of their throat. If she is too old for that method, then just PARENT and get the job done. She is the child, you are the grown up. It is your responsibility to maintain her good health. You know your child and how to talk to them and coax them to take their meds. You don’t have to be liked by your kids. Your not their friend. There will be times they will be upset with you bceuase as children they do not grasp the reasoning behind neccessary tasks. You do. So what if the child is upset. Tears will dry and she will get over it. But she will do so with good health.Whenever you are given a medication (other than pain meds or a medicine that says AS NEEDED on the bottle), you must take all of the meds. That is the treatment the doctor took the time out to order for her. You asked the doctor to make your child better, he gives you a script and you give your child the script.As far as wanting to take meds, no kid wants to. Thats why parents are parents and not your schoolmate. I had to take 12 pills every 4 hours for 4 years of my childhood. I hated every time. And sometimes I got upset with my mom but I love her for taking care of me and making sure I took them. She didn’t do what I wanted, she did what I needed.

      • Diane,
        I did end up giving him the antibiotics because he had a fever which usually indicates infection. I do understand the risks of not administering antibiotics when there is a true infection present. My point to the post is that a majority of the time, research indicates that we administer antibiotics when it is not TRULY an infection. There are symptoms that indicate infection and then there are simply viruses that make us uncomfortable, and antibiotics do not help in those cases. This is a nation wide epidemic and I think it’s only prudent as a parent to consider the consequences of antibiotic abuse.

    • The way I am understanding is your asknig why does our body become immune to some antibiotics, and thus making them stop working. My sons doctor told me it was because if you keep using the same antibiotic over and over again, that the bacteria, can start to resist it because it is used to it being present in the body. For example my 16 month ol son has MRSA, I work in a drug facility, so I am around the jailed population alot, and I guess I brought it home with me, since he is so young he often gets outbreaks, and they need to be treated with IV antibiotics, but the prolem with MRSA is that there are only 3 or 4 antibiotics that work on it, Clindamycin, vancomycin, those are the 2 they usually give my son. I would say he has had about 6 outbreaks since he was 6 months old, and its been very hard because at any time those medications can stop working, thats why his doctor tries alternating the two hoping that his body does not become immune to one of them, because then we woudl run out of options very quickly. I hope this was helpful.

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