The inflammation of the middle ear (behind the eardrum), known as otitis media, is a veritable epidemic among our children, although adults can also get it. This condition is commonly treated with antibiotics, even though when these problems are treated with drugs they recur time and again.
A review study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September ’93 found no significant difference between placebo and antibiotics in at least eight studies of long term outcome, and concludes that antibiotics are of “limited” short-term usefulness in treating acute middle ear infections, and that the data do not show them to confer any long-term benefits for draining middle ear infections. If we add the known data about the damaging adverse effects of antibiotic use, we find that, in the case of ear infections, antibiotics may do little good and much harm. The agency for Health Care Policy and Research recommends “watchful waiting” instead of antibiotics as the first step in treatment of non-acute otitis media.