We recently made it through an ear infection without antibiotics! Lucy had a cold for a week or so and then developed a fever and told me that her ear hurt. Ear infections often develop at the tail end of a cold, as the mucous just isn't draining out enough and becomes infected. This is one reason that during a cold we really focus on steam treatments and nasal aspirators to get that junk out. Because she was able to tell me that her ear hurt I was pretty sure it was infected.
I have some homeopathic earache drops that I put in the ear she was complaining about. You can also get garlic-mullein oil at the health food store and use that. I already had the earache drops or I may have tried making a garlic oil on my own. The book Naturally Healthy Babies and Children is a reference book I keep on my shelf and gives directions for this. As the book suggested, we also put a warm water bottle on her ear for 10 minutes or so and it did seem to help relieve the pain. I had her lay on her side and watch a Dora episode while the medicine was soaking in.
I have an earscope and reference book that I purchased a while back and have been learning to use. I was able to look in Lucy's ear and see that it was red and inflamed. Because I'm not an expert, I took her to the Dr just to see how bad it was. I was headed out of town the next day and Lucy was going to be staying home with Daddy, so he wanted me to take her in just for a check. The Dr agreed that she had an ear infection but that it wasn't horrible. She started to prescribe antibiotics, but I told her if it wasn't the worst ear infection she'd ever seen, we'd like to hold off on the meds and just see how it resolves itself. The Dr agreed to that and said that in a day or so if I felt she wasn't improving I could just call in and they would prescribe something. In one or two days, she was fine and back to normal. About a week later she told me that her ear didn't feel funny any more, so I'm sure it took a while to drain.
New research says that 80% of ear infections resolve within four to seven days on their own without antibiotics. If we had chosen the antibiotics right away, Lucy would not have recovered any faster and she would have been on medication for a week or more. Antibiotics upset her tummy and can take quite some time to recover from. I feel that we were cautious, but I'm glad we trusted her body and took the approach that we did.