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Chiropractic & Ear Infections

As parents, we hate seeing our child suffer and feeling helpless, which is often the case with dreaded ear infections. It is estimated that 85% of children will have at least one ear infection by their first birthday. Ear infections are the most common reason a parent takes their child to visit the pediatrician and will account for over 30 million visits each year. While ear infections are very COMMON, they should not be confused for NORMAL in infants and children.

The traditional medical approach to ear infections (Otitis Media) includes two treatments:

  • Antibiotics. These medications may help alleviate acute bacterial infections. However, majority (some estimates show upwards of 70%) of ear infections are viral. Therefore, antibiotics will do absolutely no good.

  • Tubes in the Ears. Surgical procedure to implant artificial tubes, which creates a short-term mechanical solution to drain the middle ear. While doctors claim this may be a “simple” procedure, all surgeries come with risk, and many times the tubes come out!

The problem is, neither of these treatments address the underlying reason that the child is having ear infections in the first place. Fortunately, chiropractic care offers a safe and drug-free solution for kids suffering from ear infections.

Chiropractors look at chronic ear infections as having two major contributing factors: poor plumbing (drainage) and weakened neuro-immune function.

First, we’ll take a look at the issue of poor plumbing. The whole reason behind ear infections doesn’t really have to do with whether it’s a bacterial infection or viral infection. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter, because the problem is actually with the Eustachian Tube, the tube that is responsible for draining fluid from the middle ear. When it is unable to do so, fluid, bacteria and viruses are able to remain stagnant in the middle ear leading to infections. A small muscle known as the Tensor Veli Palatini (TVP) surrounds the Eustachian Tube and controls whether it is “open” and draining or whether it is “closed” and not draining. Cranial and upper cervical nerves control the function of this muscle, whether it is tense or relaxed, and therefore, control whether the tube is draining properly. When there is interference to these nerves due to misalignments in the upper neck, issues with draining arise. Chiropractors are specially trained to find these misalignments (what we call “subluxations”) and remove them with small, gentle adjustments. Not only do these misalignments affect the nerves that go to the TVP muscles, misalignments also cause tension in other neck musculature, decreasing lymphatic drainage and immune function as well.

Subluxations (misalignments resulting in nerve interference) in the upper neck region are especially significant in a developing child. Not only do the nerves in this area control the drainage and function of facial structures and musculature, they also play a large role in immune system function and development. The nervous system and immune system are two body systems that work hand in hand with each other. When there is disturbance to the nervous system, this can result in altered immune function. An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that, “Antibiotic therapy is not an effective treatment against otitis media (ear infections) and rates of recurrent infections are significantly higher in children who have been treated with antibiotics.” Not only are antibiotics often useless in treating the infection, they often increase the risk of developing recurrent infections, and play a role in depressing the child’s overall immune function in a vicious cycle:

Ear infection cycle.jpg

Chiropractic care is a safe and drug-free approach to your child’s overall health. While chiropractic care is not a treatment for any type of infection, by removing subluxations with gentle adjustments, they restore proper nervous system function, and therefore, proper immune function and ear drainage.

Our approach to children’s health is safe and results are achieved naturally. If you are interested or would like more information, please contact our office today!

Be Well,

Dr. Erica Smothers, D.C.

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