EAR INFECTIONS – OTITIS MEDIA
Some facts about antibiotics and ear infections: 78-81% of cases resolve themselves without antibiotics. Only 6% less children had reduced ear pain after antibiotics compared to placebo (this means for every 16 children only 1 will be helped by antibiotics). Antibiotics have been shown to help children under 2 with ear infections in both ears. Increasingly we are finding bacteria resistant to antibiotics so a watch and wait approach is favoured. Giving analgesics for the pain can be a good idea if necessary.
A HERBAL EAR OIL containing Calendula, St. John’s Wort, Mullein, Garlic and Lavender was shown in a clinical trial to have the following results.
4 TREATMENT REGIMES WERE COMPARED
- Herbal ear oil alone, 5 drops in the affected ears 3 x a day (group A)
- Herbal ear oil + oral amoxicillin (antibiotic) 80mg/kg dose (group B)
- Topical anaesthetic alone (group C)
- Topical anaesthetic + topical amoxicillin 5 drops 3 x a day (group D)
- Herbal Ear oil group A had less ear pain by day 2 & 3 that group C
- Substantial reduction in pain within 30 minutes of treatment in all 4 groups
- All patients symptoms resolved in 3 days
- Antibiotic treatment alongside herbal ear oil did not improve outcome compared to herbal oil alone
Study by Sarrell, Cohen & Kahan 2003
So we can see that herbal ear oil on its own worked and it made no difference if antibiotics were used. Taking a concurrent herbal tonic can help to support immunity and reduce mucus and inflammation. A couple of things to consider: if there have been more than 3 ear infections in 6 months then you need to consider environmental (smoke, dust, mould) and dietary allergens or irritants as well as immune function. When fluid remains trapped in the inner ear after an infections has resolved it can lead to reinfection and hearing loss which can impact social and language development and learning. Chronic ear infections can have long term implications including permanent hearing loss and need to be treated seriously. More rarely a suppurative ear infection is when the ear drum has burst and puss filled fluid fills the middle ear. This can lead to serious complications including facial paralysis, brain abscess and permanent hearing loss. Antibiotics may not protect against this and needs to managed with the help of an ENT specialist. If you are not happy with your doctor’s treatment of your child’s chronic ear infections then get a second opinion or see an ENT specialist.
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