Middle ear infection, or otitis media, is one of the most common childhood afflictions, impacting up to two thirds of children at least once before the age of 3 and up to 90% before the age of ten.(i) Ear infections are the number one reason a child visits the emergency room. The most common treatments for ear infections are antibiotics and if that doesn’t work, ear tubes.
Your pediatrician likely has the best intentions when they prescribe your child antibiotics or recommends ear ventilation tubes but there are three major flaws with these recommendations. A simple PubMed or CDC search yields all the information you need to determine ear infection management is not as black and white as you have been lead to believe.
These are the 3 things your pediatrician likely did not tell you when recommendations were made in managing your child’s ear infection.
1. Most ear infections are viral. which means using an antibiotic (kills only bacteria) doesn’t work.(ii)
This is from the CDC’s website antibiotic recommendations page. As you can see, the usual cause is a virus and antibiotics are NOT needed.
2. Antibiotics and ear tubes can be dangerous. Antibiotics in children are linked to asthma(iii), obesity(iv), overall lowered immune function(v) and adult disease.(vi) Ear tubes do not improve long term hearing(vii), learning, cognitive, or academic outcomes(viii). Studies show that ear tubes lead to scarring and have been linked to poorer hearing 6-10 years later.(ix)
3. Antibiotics do not treat the cause of ear infections which is poor drainage. Using antibiotics, or even tubes, are merely a band-aid approach. Ear infections are caused by the Eustachian tube not allowing fluid to properly drain from the middle ear.(x) When the fluid becomes stagnant it becomes a hotbed for viruses and bacteria. Killing the bugs is not a long term solution.
If you are looking for a safe, long term-solution that addresses the cause of ear infections, pediatric chiropractic is the answer. How does that work you ask?
There are 4 muscles that are closely associated with the Eustachian tube. These muscles help open and close the tube. The muscles are the tensor veli palatini, levator veli palatini, salpingopharyngeus, and tensor tympani.(xi) When these muscles spasm and lose their normal tone, their function is lost and the ability to open and close the tube is compromised.
What would cause these muscles to spasm and lose function? Improper nerve input. This is caused from upper cervical (neck) misalignments.(xii)
The chiropractic adjustment restores normal motion and alignment to the spine which, in turn, restores normal nerve function and normal muscle function to the Eustachian tube which ultimately allows the tube to drain appropriately.(xiii)
A few quick hitters to wrap this thing up.
- But isn’t cracking my baby’s neck dangerous?
- Most adults associate a chiropractic adjustment with a loud cavitation (gas releasing from joint) sound. Although the adult adjustment is completely safe(xiv), parents believe this would be dangerous for their children. The force applied when adjusting an infant/child is significantly less. The typical force applied to a child’s neck is the equivalent of the force you can rest from your finger over your closed eyelid without discomfort.
- I want more research, where can I find it?
- The ICPA is a great place to look. http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/
- How do I find a chiropractor that is trained to check my child?
- In MN mychildschiropractor.com is a great place to start
- Another great place is http://icpa4kids.org/Find-a-Chiropractor/
- If the above two methods don’t yield results you will need to do a little research.
- Check out their website. Make sure it looks like a place that specializes in kids. The website should include articles about kids and chiropractic as well as pictures and testimonials showcasing success with kids.
- Read their reviews. Look through their online reviews. If it’s 100% adult and back pain oriented look elsewhere.
Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below—but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about getting back your child’s’ health!
Jami Rassmussen, DC