Always use an antibiotic for strep and ear infections, right?

With winter coming up, I know many of you have kids who get strep or ear infections or any number of other illnesses we have come to think of as “normal.” When my family quit eating processed foods many years ago, we eliminated any need for asthma drugs and antibiotics.

In Europe, antibiotics are used to treat ear infections only when patients experience recurrent drainage or pain, because infections resolve themselves over 85 percent of the time. One study shows that 75 percent of childhood ear infections are caused by viruses. One study followed 168 children with ear infections where antibiotics were prescribed only if the child had a history of meningitis or subsequent serious infection, or if the illness involved a high fever or profound weakness. Antibiotics were recommended for only 6 percent of the children. No serious complications were observed in the others, who recovered fully. Another very large international study showed that antibiotics did not improve rate of recovery in ear infections in nine countries.

Mothers who breastfeed have the highest chance of avoiding the ear-infection cycle that many are in today–the best preventative measure you can take, according to multiple studies.

More than 75 percent of patients seeking help with sore throats are given antibiotics by their doctors, when only 10 percent are caused by bacteria (or 30 percent in children). Even half of those who test positive for strep are positive because they chronically carry the bacteria even though it doesn’t make them ill. (I am one of them. When I had my last baby, they tested for Strep A and came rushing into the room demanding I be put on a “preventive” antibiotic because I was positive–fortunately, the baby came out before they could try to inject me.)

Doctors provide antibiotic prescriptions often even though they know they are unnecessary, because patients want a prescription. You are more educated than that. The scare tactics of “you must take this antibiotic or your child may get scarlet fever” are highly overrated (these complications are very rare and even most bacterial infections resolve themselves thanks to the human immune system).

My mother put me on antibiotics every time I got strep as a child; consequently, I got strep every few months. I spent 15 years trying to recover my immune system from so many courses of antibiotics. The last time I got strep, 15 years ago, I refused to take antibiotics and used goldenseal instead (an herb that kills bad bacteria without killing good bacteria, and it can also be effective against viruses). The strep went away and I never got it again. (In combination with the herb, I was changing my diet at that time and becoming much less susceptible to infections and have never had one since.) None of my children has ever had strep. One of my children had chronic ear infections as a baby, but I never gave her antibiotics and used natural remedies instead, and I did have tubes put in her ears.

On the other hand, risks of antibiotic use are significant and should be considered as well. Joel Fuhrman in Disease-Proof Your Child quotes a large study published in JAMA showing that women who used antibiotics fairly frequently had twice the breast cancer risk compared to women who took no antibiotics (over a 17-year period). Other medical studies show that children getting multiple rounds of antibiotics early in life are more prone to asthma, hay fever, and eczema. Killing the beneficial bacteria in your gut as antibiotics do (they can’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria) also means you have little defense against the next virus or infection to come around.

I use colloidal silver, oregano oil, and lots of alkaline water. I’ve never had to go to antibiotics. I much prefer methods of fighting infection that work WITH the immune system rather than against it.

6 thoughts on “Always use an antibiotic for strep and ear infections, right?

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  1. Here is some evidence that Vitamin D 2000-5000 IU daily will ward of H1N1, posted on the LDSRaw yahoo group.


    Dear Dr. Cannell:

    Thanks for your update about the hospital in Wisconsin. I have had similar anecdotal evidence from my medical practice here in Georgia. We are one of the 5 states with widespread H1N1 outbreaks.

    I share an office with another family physician. I aggressively measure and replete vitamin D. He does not.

    He is seeing one to 10 cases per week of influenza-like illness.

    In my practice– I have had zero cases. My patients are universally on 2000-5000 IU to maintain serum levels 50-80 ng/ml.

  2. The best home remedy for ear infections is garlic oil. I have used it with mine when my daughter got swimmer’s ear every week one summer and still use it if they get an ear infection or at first sign of ear pain. My pastor’s wife used it on her grandson and he recovered from ear pain within 20 minutes.

    Use 2-3 TBS of olive oil and crush one clove garlic let the garlic soak in the oil until oil is strong, (15-20 min) then strain out garlic and put in ear.

  3. Not only do antibiotics kill the good bacteria in your gut, but they kill people,too. The second S in my user name is for Sheridan. Sheridan died in ’06 from a drug reaction, to one of the most common drugs, Amoxacilan, I gave her for ear infection. She died from Stevens Johnsons Syndrome. Please even if you use antibiotics use them with care….most drs don’t want to admit this happens from antibiotics. Ok, all drs don’t want to admit it….. if you go to ER for SJS symptoms you are likely to get more antibotics, because they don’t believe this happens…. there are few good drs out there that recognize it …. more and more are, because it can’t be ignored any longer.

    At the time I knew nothing of natural remedies, but I do now. And I rarely have to use them.

    If you have to go to the dr for a deep cut or something like that they will give you what they call a profalatic ( I don’t know how to spell it) a preventive so that infection doesn’t occur… ask what the chances of infection are… more often than not they are only about 1%. And we know what food can do, plus garlic is a natural antibiotic.

    I believe that Sheridan was called home by her heavenly Father, but it is hard to live with knowing that there was another choice.

  4. i am unfortunately very used to ear infections. My first child (son) had chronic ear infections as a baby- – – he was on anti-biotic after another–he is now allergic and/or unresponsive to almost all anti-biotics…as my dr put it, “if he gets phneumonia–we are screwed.”

    My second child (daughter) started the same trend–after 3 ear infections in 4 months–I said– I’m not doing this again (by the way–I did not give her ANY anti-biotics for those infections–garlic oil and time)- in Europe if kids are having ear infections–they take them off Milk–it is VERY commonly a milk allergy (and soemtimes other allergies too) —I went off milk (was exclusively nursing) and she never had another ear infection again (except at 7 months–I trialed milk and she had no symptoms/reactions except for a full blown ear infection on day 6!)- – –

    my daughter has never had a drop of formula–my kids still got ear infections (I’m sure it would be worse if I hadn’t of breastfed) -. she also got those goopey eyes when I had milk (which the dr gave me anti-biotic ointment for)- I guess what I’m saying–is–don’t get the anit-biotics! the dr will prescribe them–you are THERE to see them–they think it’s what you want. find a dr that will take the wait and see approach and be willing to re-check ears after a couple days and make sure things aren’t getting a lot worse, etc.

  5. Thank you for the information. I can attest in our little family to the awesomeness of breastfeeding. My son is nearly two and has never had strep or and ear infection. He has gotten sick, but nearly everything was a virus. And the way we feel about it is we want him to get sick occasionally to work out his immune system.

    Watch out for doctors! My son had a fever and a sore throat for a few days, so we took him into urgent care to get it checked out. The quick strep came back negative, but the doctor gave us an antibiotic anyways. I asked him the statistics on this BEING a bacterial infection, and he said at that age (9 months old) that is was almost ALWAYS a bacterial infection. My son took one dose of the antibiotic, and he fever broke later that night. We knew it couldn’t be because of the antibiotic, so we stopped the treatment. We had an appointment with our regular pediatrician a few days later. He’s an amazing guy, very natural, suggest homeopathy and other such things. He told us it was adenovirus, and he had seen a lot of it that season. When we told him what the urgent care doctor said about most illnesses being bacterial at this stage, he was very upset and said that with a breastfeeding mom and at only 9 months old that it was nearly ALWAYS viral, and they only reason they prescribed the antibiotic was to cover their heineys.

    Whew, so, there ya go. Some new information.

  6. Yes, totally watch out for doctors.

    I had a surgeon ready to cut out a major organ a month ago with almost no proof whatsoever that I needed surgery. He told me I was in pain, I told him I felt fine. I did some homework and realized he was a new doc and has to get a certain number of surguries before he can practice solo. I didn’t end up on my death bed like the surgeon predicted. In fact, I feel great.

    Then, the same week my pediatrician told me my baby needed to be treated with aquafor 5 times a day because I was using too much soap. I actually don’t even use soap in every bath (should I?). I noticed a big advertisement and coupons for aquafor in the waiting room on my way out.

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