Not All Ear Infections Require Antibiotics | The Survival Doctorby James Hubbard, MD, MPH

After my post about complications of the flu, a reader chided me on short-changing a couple of complications. One was ear infections. I wrote that if you develop an ear infection and can’t get to a doctor, you can treat it easily with antibiotics. But, the reader asked, what if you don’t have them? Is there anything else you can do?

The truth is, you may not even need the antibiotics.

For years, we’ve known most ear infections will resolve on their own. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics developed a set of guidelines regarding the matter. In it, they reiterate that most ear infections are caused from viruses. For 60 percent of people, symptoms start decreasing within twenty-four hours. By seven days, 70 percent are symptom-free. All without antibiotics.

So, the glaring question becomes how do you determine the 30-40 percent who do benefit from antibiotics? (And for those, there is no good substitute.) Oh, and is there anything else you can do, for instance, for the pain?

First, know it’s hard enough for us doctors to predict who needs antibiotics and who doesn’t. So my suggestion is have your doctor help you make that decision. But if there comes a time you can’t get to a doctor?

>> Next: Signs an ear infection may need antibiotics


Ear infection photo by clappstar on Flickr.