The majority of ear infections are not bacterial in nature. In fact most are viral or allergic. Antibiotics in these cases are not necessary. According to the Centers for Disease Control, antibiotics should not be used as a first line defense for ear infections. http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/community/files/ads/adult-guidelines-4.pdf
That said, there are a few other options.
1) Ear drops containing garlic and mullein. Garlic is antimicrobial and mullein can be quite soothing to the ear. These can be found over the counter from companies such as Herb Pharm.
2) Motrin (ibuprofen) for pain relief.
3) Warm compresses applied near the ear can also sooth pain and discomfort associated with ear infections.
4) Diet and Lifestyle modifications including:
-IgG food testing to determine possible food allergens. I have found much success in my practice after running a specific type of food allergy testing. Often people are experiencing food sensitivities and do not realize it. Even if you have made dietary changes you may still be eating foods that cause you a problem. You can find more information about this type of testing here: http://www.betterhealthusa.com/
I highly encourage you to visit this website and talk about this testing with your doctor.
-Avoid more hyper-allergenic foods such as, citrus fruits, wheat, sugar, and eggs
- Eliminate irritants such as cigarette smoke, exhaust, perfumes, and other air born pollutants
- Avoid mucous forming foods such as dairy products, chocolate, nuts, citrus fruits, and bananas
- Steam inhalation can be done at home using aromatic herbs such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, etc. One easy way of doing this is to steam up the bathroom and sit and play in the bathroom.
1) Remove dairy products from your diet. Products made from cow's milk (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc) are mucus forming foods and are also considered highly allergenic foods. It may be worth a trial of eliminating these foods and watch for improvement.
2) Decrease sugar in your diet. Sugar is also mucus forming and also lowers immune function.
3) Dry pillows and bedding on high heat for 20 minutes 1 time per week (or more frequently if you like). This kills dust mites which are a common allergen and also cleans the pillow pretty well (do not throw temperature sensitive pillows into the dryer such as Tempurpedic pillows).
The danger with ear infections is that the ear drum may burst leaving the individual susceptible to infection. This is rare but can happen. If you notice any clear fluid or blood coming out of the ear, it means the ear drum has rupture. This should be evaluated by a physician.
If you develop fever, increase in pain, headache, or discharge from the ear, see a doctor immediately.
I hope you find this helpful.