Ear Infections and Antibiotics

In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman’s position on treating childhood ear infections certainly deviates from common medical practice. How so? I’ll let him explain:
Studies also point to the fact that most ear infections early in life are viral, not bacterial.1 The vast majority of ear infections resolve nicely on their own, whether bacterial or viral, without an antibiotic. It is a common practice in this country to treat all ear infections with an antibiotic. Whether bacterial or not, our children get a routine prescription for an antibiotic at every minor illness. This cycle often is repeated many times, which may beget other medical problems in adulthood.
What, no antibiotics? For some this is hard to believe. Hey, it shocked me too. As a kid I got tons of ear infections, and each time my doctor prescribed antibiotics. Now, Dr. Fuhrman believes antibiotics should only be administered if the condition lingers or worsens. Not a bad idea considering all the news about the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and viruses.


Julie’s Health Club shares this concern. Today she’s taking a look at a recent study published in Journal of the American Medical Association advocating a wait-and-see approach for treating ear infections. Here’s a quote from the study that sounds awfully familiar:
"In this country, 96 to 98 percent of physicians treat ear infections immediately with antibiotics, even though most cases will resolve on their own without treatment," lead researcher David Spiro told Web MD, an on-line source of health information.
Julie points out that approximately 15 million prescriptions for antibiotics to treat childhood ear infections are written each year.


For more on ear infections and antibiotics, check out this previous post: Childhood Ear Infections: A Multibillion-Dollar Industry
1. Leiva PB, Inzunza BN, Perez TH, et al. The impact of malnutrition on brain development, intelligence and school work performance. Arch Latinoam Nutr 2001;1(1):64-71.
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