Doctor treating an earache.Last week my son crawled into bed with us at 1 a.m. complaining of an ear ache. At five and a half years old, we've reached the point where when he complains about an earache, particularly following a cold, I know he has an ear infection. I was also sick so my husband took him to our pediatrician's walk-in hours the next morning to confirm the ear infection, and the pediatrician prescribed antibiotics but put the prescription on hold so that we could see if it would heal itself and he would be comfortable with a standard children's pain relief medication. Luckily, this course of action worked and we didn't have to put him on the antibiotics, but it made me wonder: Should I even bother taking him to the doctor for ear infections anymore?
Read More: Runny Nose or Really Sick? When to Keep Kids Home From School
I'm quite content to not put my children on antibiotics. I understand the danger of them, and while I am a believer in modern medicine, I'm not the type to pop so much as an aspirin unless I really need it. But of course I also don't want my kids to be in pain. So if I know that the doctor is now recommending that the kids take a course of over the counter pain relievers first to treat the ear infection, why did I just spend $80 on a doctor visit?
"Perhaps the most surprising news is that common ear infections rarely require medication or any other action, except when severe or in young infants. "The body's immune system can usually resolve them. More and more studies show that children treated or untreated are at the same place 10 days out. We are constantly amazed at how many ear infections resolve on their own," says Dr. Robert M. Jacobson, chair of the Mayo Clinic's Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
Read More: 10 Things You Need in Your "I'm Such a Prepared Mom" First Aid Kid
So moving forward I think I'm going to start with the pain reliever first and if it persists for more than a day or two or the pain reliever doesn't help at all, then we'll head to the doctor. In this case, it was a Friday so I was glad to have the prescription available if we needed it over the weekend, but on any other day of the week, we'll be trying to treat ear infections at home. I like to stay out of the doctor's office anyway. The waiting room is a great place to pick up other nasty germs that we'd just as soon avoid.
This post was written by Sarah Fernandez.