Ear infections can be excruciatingly painful, especially in children. With 10 million new cases every year, ear infections (otitis media) are the most common illness affecting babies and young children and the number one reason for visits to the pediatrician—accounting for more than 35 percent of all pediatric visits.
There are two main sources for otitis media, either bacterial or viral. This is when antibiotics are typically prescribed, hoping the infection is due to bacteria. If the infection is viral in origin, antibiotics will only make the problem worse as they kill off part of your child’s natural immunity
Children develop ear infections more frequently in the first 2-4 years of life for several reasons. Their Eustachian tubes are shorter and more horizontal than those of adults, which allows bacteria and viruses to find their way into the middle ear more easily. Their tubes are also narrower and less stiff which makes them prone to more blockages. The adenoids, which are gland like structures located in the back of the upper throat near the Eustachian tube are large in children and can interfere with the Eustachian tube.
When fluids from an ear infection haven’t cleared from the ear after several months, and hearing is affected—specialists may prescribe “ear tubes.” During the surgical procedure, a small opening is made in the eardrum to place a tube inside. The tube relieves pressure in the ear and prevents repeated fluid buildup with the continuous venting of fresh air. Although the treatment is effective, it has to be repeated in some 20 to 30 percent of cases. And this kind of surgery requires general anesthesia, never a minor thing in a small child. If the infection persists even after tube placement and removal, the next procedure recommended is an adenoidectomy (surgical removal of the adenoids).
Before yet another round of “I hope it works this time” antibiotics or the drastic step of surgery, more parents are considering chiropractic to help children with chronic ear infections. It surprises many parents initially, to learn that some of the nerves that control and monitor your ear, pass through the cervical spine(neck area). If the bones in the upper neck shift or become restricted (as they often do in the birthing process, or falls), the nerves that send signals to and from the ear and brain become compromised. When the nervous system becomes compromised, so does your body’s immune system which then reduces the chances of your child’s ability to fight the infection on its own.
Subluxations(spinal misalignments) are also accompanied by abnormal muscle tension that can exert pressure on nearby lymphatic drainage ducts. This prevents natural drainage, further compounding the problem.
Research has shown that 80% of children who received chiropractic care were free of ear infections for at least a six month period. A chiropractic adjustment mobilizes drainage of the ear in children. Continued drainage of fluids will eliminate the infection and will strengthen the immune system and help the child to recover much faster.
Guest Writer – Dr. Alice Grob
Dr. Alice Grob is the owner of Alice’s Chiropractic Wonderland.