Monday, May 08, 2006

The road to antibiotics is paved with good intentions

Here in the QoD household, we strive to minimize the expansion of antibiotic-resistant bugs. That striving is often low-key, as when we choose dish soap without Proven Antibacterial Powers, but it feels like striving to us, nonetheless. This means, of course, that we try not to give WonderGirl and Rocco antibiotics unless we're darn sure that they've been waylaid by a bacterial illness instead of a viral one. This is not always easy, because the identifying signs that the germs hold up are not always easy to read when you're squinting and we're usually squinting for some reason.

Rocco has already had two ear infections, which is one more than WonderGirl ever had. It's a bit surprising, because I'm still nursing, and breastmilk has Proven Antibacterial Powers also, and don't you know that breastfed kids don't get ear infections? And they're smart. And their poop smells like gardenias. And they're biologically incapable of farting when anyone is close enough to smell it. Plus, I knew someone whose aunt's neighbor breastfed for two years and her kid never got sick. And the plural of anecdote is, in fact, data.

Anyway, Rocco timed his two previous (hah! foreshadowing!) ear infections well - each was right before we were about to fly somewhere, so we felt a bit pressured to go ahead and start treatment so that he wouldn't be in avoidable pain on the flights. Last week, he started pulling on his ear and got a bit cranky, so DT took a look at his ear. (DT's job is one which requires him to be able to diagnose ear infections - right, he's an ear sanitation engineer.) It was heading down the path of infection, but wasn't there yet, so we resolved to keep an eye on it. I was secretly sure it wasn't really infected because we have no air travel planned anytime soon. Sadly, I'm not kidding about that.

Over the next several days, it got worse, then, miraculously, got better. The small pus pocket resolved, the bulging subsided, Rocco became happier and we congratulated ourselves on following the AAP's recommendation to observe a child in his situation instead of immediately starting antibiotics. One less course of antibiotics! Woo hoo! We were public health revolutionaries!

Last Friday, of course, Rocco got cranky again. Over the weekend, he developed a nice fever. (By "nice," I mean a fever that was obvious enough that we didn't have to take his temperature, but when we finally did, it was nicely 101.5.) He then either: a) started chewing tobacco without having a spit cup nearby, or b) developed a nasty drool reflex indicating a "nice" sore throat. I started worrying about strep, so DT looked down his throat (using, of course, a Gerber plasticized spoon to keep his tongue out of the way) and it was "nice" and red.

Today, I bundled Rocco off to his official pediatrician, and yes, you're right. Ear infection.



Allison said...

Anecdotes on the way...

Maybe it's true that little boys have weaker immune systems (I breastfed baby boy, AKA Dracula, about 18 months, which was at least six months longer than I or my nipples wanted to, because I kept really really hoping some of my antibodies would decide to work for him at some point). He's had probably six ear infections. My oldest had one, my second daughter only two total.

Ruth said...

You know, I've been hearing more from people lately that boys seem to have more ear infections, but most of the little boys I know are also second children and therefore more likely to be exposed to more bugs. It's interesting that your second daughter only had two. Wimpy boys.

I do keep wondering how much worse it would be if I wasn't nursing. I have to believe much worse, or it'll make me crazy.