Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Your child has a fever, is irritable and is constantly pulling on her ear. You suspect an ear infection and off you go to the pediatrician. Your pediatrician looks in her ears and confirms that she does indeed have an ear infection. Then comes the prescription for a round of antibiotics. This is the 3rd time this year that your child has been on antibiotics for an ear infection and every time the infection comes back and your child may have residual stomach issues from the antibiotics. You may be asking is there another option?
An All Too Common Problem
Ear infections are very common in babies and young children, by age seven, 93% of children will have at least 1 ear infection (Pediatrics 2003; 111:e574-9). The typical childhood ear infection, otitis media, stems from the Eustachian tube not being able to effectively drain fluid from the inner ear. This allows for an ideal environment for bacteria and viruses to grow, causing the pain and other symptoms of an ear infection. Children are more susceptible to ear infections because of their horizontal ear canals (later on in life ear canals become more vertical). The most common treatment for ear infections is a round of antibiotics, however, most ear infections are actually caused by a virus and are not affected by antibiotics. So it is very important for doctors to test if the condition is bacterial or viral, so antibiotics aren't used in excess.
So how can chiropractic help? Many children will have misalignments in their spines acquired by the birth process and other means. These misalignments, especially those found in the upper neck, can inhibit the nerve function to the Eustachian tubes. Eliminating the nerve interference with chiropractic adjustments can restore function and allow the Eustachian tubes to drain any fluid build-up. A branch of the cervical nerve 2 also innervates the tensor veli palatini muscle, which helps pull down a child's Eustachian tube and aids in fluid drainage.
Research has shown that using chiropractic care to help with childhood ear infections is promising. In one study, a chiropractor adjusted the neck of 46 children with ear infections. Of the 46 children 93% improved and 43% only needed one or two additional adjustments (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1996;19:169-77).
Another study looked at how chiropractic care decreased the recurrence of ear infections. Out of 332 children under chiropractic care for ear infections, only 11% had another ear infection within the next 6 months (JCCP 1997;2:167-83).
So the next time your child starts pulling on her ear and telling you it hurts, try using chiropractic. It's a safe alternative that allows your child's body to heal itself. Children adjustments are light force and can help restore your child's nervous system so that they can be both healthy and happy!
Dr. Ali Schweitzer is certified through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association in pediatric chiropractic care, so you know your child is in good hands!