Amoxicillin is a strong antibiotic used to treat many different types of infection caused by bacteria, such as tonsillitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, gonorrhea, and infections of the ear, nose, throat, skin, or urinary tract. As such, it is the first one to be prescribed for acute otitis media or simple viral infection However, this infection it is not caused by bacteria and has contributed to the advent of antibiotic resistance. The side effects of Amoxicillin are also a problem such as diarrhoea, fever, swollen gums, painful mouth sores, pain when swallowing, skin sores, cold or flu symptoms, coughing, breathing difficulties etc.
A study has confirmed that excessive amount of antibiotics have been prescribed for treating acute otitis media in recent years. More than 11 million antibiotic prescriptions are written each year for children and this may well be unnecessary. Dr Matthew Kronman et al. believe that because of the high level of antibiotics prescribed to children, there is a hazardous development of bacterial infection in the direction of antibiotic resistance. The routine use of antibiotics to treat middle ear infections is not recommended because of the lack of evidence to show that antibiotics speed up the healing process. In many cases, otitis media is caused by viruses, against which antibiotics are ineffective.
An 18 year old study made by Freise et al. was a prospective observation study which was carried out by 5 practitioners on 131 children. The age range of 6 months to 11 years was selected for this study. 103 children were given homeopathy and were observed by only one practitioner whereas the other 28 children who were given conventional treatment were observed by 4 practitioners. They used nasal drops (xylometazoline and tramazolin), antibiotics: (amoxicillin, erythromycin, penicillin, trimethoprim + sulfamethoxazol); secretolytics: (ambroxol, acetylcysteine) and antiphyretics (paracetamol, sodium salicylate + paracetamol and codeine phosphate).
The purpose of this study is made clear in the introduction i.e. testing the results of homeopathic treatment against the results of conventional.
When it comes to a direct comparison between antibiotics and homeopathy in treating viral infections in children, Haidvogl et al. (2007), found evidence to suggest that the response rates between both treatment groups after 7 and 28 days were not significantly different but the onset of improvement within the first 7 days after treatment was significantly faster upon homeopathic treatment both in children and adults. As the evidence base for complementary and alternative medicine in general is limited, Shang (2005) suggested that there is definitely a need for more research in areas such as homeopathy but the research of Haidvogl et al. (2007) is not definitive and the results they suggested can only be taken into consideration.
The therapy outcome was assessed by complete recovery, major improvement, slight improvement or no change at all, as well as how satisfied the patients were with the treatment.
Based on a study done undertaken by Frei (1999), homeopathy has been shown to be capable of successfully treating AOM, whilst the conventional antibiotic treatment of AOM faces a number of problems, including potentially dangerous adverse effects.
In the U.K., amoxicillin is the recommended first-line antibiotic for AOM. Macfadyen et al. (2005) argue that antibiotic treatment should not be offered routinely in children with AOM but may be useful for some patients where the benefits may outweigh the risks of adverse effects e.g. children who are less than two years of age, systemically unwell or have recurrent infections (Macfadyen et al. 2005).
The American Academy of Pediatrics (2000) guidelines on diagnosis and management of AOM recommends high-dose amoxicillin for the treatment of uncomplicated AOM (Christakis et al. 2000). However, as a result of rising childhood obesity, recommended doses can often exceed standard adult doses (Kopp at al. 2010).
These days, children from a very young age are prescribed antibiotic treatment when it is not appropriate. From these studies, we learn that Homeopathy can actually help in the recovery from acute otitis media. The more evidence we can gather to show the benefits of homeopathy, the more chance we have of ending this cycle of antibiotics and helping many children around the world. Health services may also benefit from a study like this given that many General Practitioners may feel under pressure from worried parents to prescribe antibiotics for their children’s recurrent viral infections rather than a proven alternative.