If you can manage, try not to take antibiotics. It's better for your immune system to fight off infection by itself. I have heard it explained like this: when we take antibiotics for every sickness, we are trading the long term benefit of a healthy immune system for the short term benefit of feeling better "today". You should be able to manage avoiding antibiotics generally if you eat well, sleep well, and make your health a priority.
For example, I have daily: fermented cod liver oil, raw B vitamin complex, 5-HTP, maca root, local and pastured eggs, raw and whole milk, Kerrygold butter, fresh produce, lacto-fermented veggies (pickles, carrots, sauerkraut), raw cheese, kefir water, kvass, and some kind of pastured or grass-fed meat.
But sometimes you can't keep your immune system up, no matter your attention to diet, exercise, stress and sleep. And sometimes it doesn't matter how many probiotics you take or eat, it's not enough to fight off infection. I eat very well, and I make sleep and health a priority. But I still got VERY sick over the weekend.
I try to always remind myself that there are many variables at play when it comes to optimum health. Environmental toxins around me that can take their toll, from plastics to pollution. Generations of family before me ate margarine, Crisco, lots of vegetable oils (canola, safflower, soybean), battery chickens, white flour, white sugar, CAFO beef and pork, and believed that saturated fat was "bad". The last two or three generations have been fed these kinds of lies for years now.
I had been taking care of a sick M for 5 days when I got sick. Couple that with my recent hormone, adrenal, and thyroid issues, and being a little more stressed than usual by making pies and such for Thanksgiving, and I came down with a sore throat.
That sore throat was brutal, but I fought it off after three days. I felt better for several hours, but that night I came down with a very painful ear infection, with a bit of hearing loss, and tender mastoid bones (behind the ear). I fought that off after a day or so, but then I relapsed again with renewed throat pain, and now two sore ears with hearing loss and a LOT of pressure and pain in the mastoid area. Here I was on day five, backsliding and in as much pain as when I was in labor with E.
Full disclosure, I was mad that I couldn't fight this off. I had done everything I could think of to combat my sickness. I went to bed early, I took care of my stress levels, I used my neti pot three times a day, I drank mullein tea, I drank fenugreek tea, I put coconut oil in my ears, I gargled with salt water three times a day, I took Emergen-C, I took extra cod liver oil, vitamin C, B complex, maca root, zinc, I drank extra kefir and water, I washed my hands and took warm showers. But it wasn't enough. I almost fought it off twice, but it wasn't quite enough.
I admit that I cried quite a few times as I waited for my pain relievers to kick in on Sunday, and hoped I would make it to Monday and feel a miraculous change. Instead, I was up all night in pain waiting to go to the doctor at the crack of dawn to break down and beg for antibiotics and narcotics. Yes, it was that bad.
So I did. By the time I got my hands on antibiotics, pseudoephedrine (yes, it was that bad), and acetaminophen with codeine (again, yes, it was THAT bad), I was still unable to move for about 8 hours after taking my first dose. Every time I moved my head would throb and I would weep from how painful it was. My saint of a MIL came over to clean my kitchen, make us dinner, and take M to the doctor (he was diagnosed with strep throat and had also started to backslide like I was.) We were a sorry lot yesterday.
Antibiotics are truly amazing. I am a different person today than I would have been without them. I could have been hospitalized if I didn't get this infection under control. Keep that in mind when you try to avoid antibiotics, and don't take it too far. Sometimes your body loses the battle, and you need a little help. Just make sure to have lots of probiotic food during and after your round of antibiotics. I am eating a lot of naturally fermented pickles, and drinking the juice to boot! I am also trying to drink lots of of kvass and kefir, more than I usually do.
I feel so much better, and I'm happy to have the wisdom of both modern medicine and the traditional, whole foods of my ancestors.