Pediatricians scolded for over-prescribing antibiotics for children's ear infections

Monday, March 11, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: antibiotics, ear infections, children

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(NaturalNews) With antibiotic resistance on the rise, many in the medical community are finally coming to grips with the fact that something needs to change, and soon, if we are to avoid a complete public health apocalypse. And to help move this change along, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued new guidelines chastising doctors for over-prescribing antibiotics, particularly among children with common ear infections, as this is a primary cause of the antibiotic-resistant superbug epidemic we currently face.

In its issuance, AAP advises doctors to basically stop handing out antibiotics like candy, noting that roughly 70 percent of all children who develop ear infections naturally overcome them within about two or three days, and about 80 percent overcome them in about a week. Except in cases involving extreme symptoms, most children with ear infections simply need to get more rest, drink lots of water, and eat nutrient-dense foods that will help boost their immune systems.

According to Dr. Richard Rosenfeld from the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center, who helped write the new guidelines, many doctors are also failing to properly identify ear infections in the first place before prescribing antibiotics. If a child's eardrum is not visibly bulging, for instance, he or she may not even have an actual ear infection, or at least not the bacterial type that would in any way respond to antibiotic treatment.

"There are dozens of reasons an ear can hurt. In this guideline, we say, 'Listen, if you're not sure of the diagnosis, don't even think about giving an antibiotic. Please, don't even think about it,'" Dr. Rosenfeld is quoted as saying by NPR. "If [the eardrum] pushed outward -- looks like it wants to pop -- that is a very, very accurate sign of an ear infection."

Avoiding antibiotics except in extreme ear infection cases a best bet, says AAP

But even when a legitimate ear infection can be diagnosed, many children still do not need antibiotics, according to Dr. Rosenfeld. In a majority of cases, unless children are experiencing extreme pain or other symptoms that indicate a more severe type of infection, there is no real need to prescribe antibiotics as ear infections typically resolve themselves without the need for drugs. And by avoiding the use of antibiotics, both parents and doctors can help stem the tide of antibiotic resistance.

"The bacteria that do survive the antibiotic get tough, and next time you get an ear infection or any other type of infection, they're harder to manage," says Dr. Rosenfeld. "You don't have to freak out as a parent. [Ear infections] tend to go away on their own quite often with just some pain medicine."

Prevention is also key when it comes to ear infections, and is something that often gets overlooked in the conventional medical model. Natural immune-boosters like vitamin C (citrus fruits, camu camu, acerola cherry), zinc (pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, cacao), garlic, oil of oregano, olive leaf extract, and onions are just a few examples of the many food-based remedies for both avoiding and treating ear infections naturally.

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