Childhood Ear Infections

CHIROPRACTIC: A Different Approach to Childhood Ear Infections

Infection of the middle ear, or acute otitis media, is a common symptom in childhood. It is the most common cause of fever in the early years of life. This condition can be very serious after several reoccurring episodes. What be done to help these children?

For most children, the first sign of an earache or sinus infection means it’s time for another prescription for an antibiotic. If the infection is bacterial, the child may feel better in a few days. It is more likely a virus was the culprit and then the child does not get better; antibiotics do not work on viruses. The only way to determine exactly what the exact cause is by a needle culture, this procedure is not a common practice. Most Doctors simply assume it is a bacterial infection and prescribe a course of antibiotics. The family goes on a trial and error search of antibiotics and eventually the child gets better on their own. The problem comes when the infections keep reoccurring and don’t respond to the antibiotics.

The over-usage of antibiotics can cause more health problems than they help. They can cause an over sensetivity or an allergy to the medication. There can be other potential problems that occur like diarrhea, stomach disorders, and hyperactive bowels. The antibiotics are not discriminative and kill all of the naturally occurring, good bacteria as well as the bad. The good bacteria are found throughout your body, but especially concentrated in the intestines where they help digestion and absorption of food. The dependence on antibiotics for long periods of time lowers your body’s natural immunity and can leave you susceptible to other ailments. We are now seeing the results of the over utilization of antibiotic treatment in drug resistant bacteria called “Superbugs”. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) found shockingly high levels of germs resistant to antibiotics; particularly S. Pnemoniae the common cause of pneumonia, meningitis, and ear infections. They also cautioned pediatricians to limit their usage of broad-spectrum antibiotics, especially for cases of ear infections. (2) According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, amoxicillin with and without decongestant-antihistamine combination is not effective for the treatment of persistent middle ear infections. They found that after the administration of amoxicillin the probability was six times greater of fluid being present in the ear than without the antibiotic treatment. (3) Another study from the International Primary Care Network found that antibiotic treatment did not improve the rate of recovery of otitis media. Patients who did not take antibiotics had a higher rate of recovery than those who did take the antibiotic. (4) There is another option to parents with children with reoccurring ear infections called a Tympanostomy. It is the most common operation being performed on children today; is the insertion of tubes in the ears to combat middle ear infection or Acute Otitis Media. The tube is inserted through the eardrum and the effusion is drawn out. Don’t expect the tubes to be a long-term cure for hearing problems associated with Otitis Media. A study showed that children who had one ear with the tube insertion, the other was left untreated. After three months there was some improvement in hearing, but after 12 months there was no significant difference in hearing between the ears. (6) Dr. Jack L. Paradise a pediatrician from the University of Pittsburgh commented: “Many, too many, children are getting tubes. It is like the tonsillectomy used to be in the 1940′s; every child that walks gets one. The operation nearly always causes permanent scars on the eardrum and hurt hearing.” What can parents do to help their child without the problems of antibiotics and or surgery? Why not try a different approach.

Chiropractic is a natural, drug-free, non-invasive, (non-surgical) and preventative health care. It deals with the relationship between the spine and the nervous system. Doctors of Chiropractic are highly skilled and can detect the specific vertebrae out of alignment. They apply a gently force to the spine and place the bone in your spine (Vertebrae) into its natural position called an Adjustment. Vertebrae surround and protect the spinal cord so that nerve impulses from your brain may travel down your spinal cord and out your nerves to communicate to your body. All the body functions including proper growth, repair, and healing of the body, everything is controlled by the brain sending and receiving messages over nerves and spinal cord. When these nerves get stretched, twisted, or pinched, the vital communication system is disrupted; like static on the telephone line. This can happen when the Vertebrae move out of position, they press on nerves and reduce the communication between your brain and body. Subluxations can cause a variety of symptoms from abnormal posture and muscle spasms to ear infections, headaches, asthma, and allergies, even constipation. This increased muscle tension interferes with normal blood flow and nerve flow to the cells, tissues, and organs causing dysfunction and disease. As the alignment is restored, the nerve supply is restored and the body can function at its optimal potential. Symptoms then begin to diminish and your body is able to heal and repair itself.

Research has also found that subluxations can cause adverse reaction in the child’s ability to fight disease. The internal organ function is compromised; there is a problem to produce a chemical responsible for temperature regulation. The bodies’ immune response in the production of anti-viral and anti-bacterial agents to fight infection has been greatly compromised due to vertebral lesions.(1) Research has shown that upper respiratory infections, including Otitis Media, may be caused by improper drainage of the deep cervical lymphatics which causes a reduction in lymphatic outflow from the Eustachian tube. (5) This fluid builds up in the inner ear, making an inviting environment for bacteria or virus to grow. Improper drainage of fluid is caused by a combination of events. Increased muscle tone or spasm, coupled with a child’s already small drainage system seems to be responsible. Instead of a treatment to kill the bacteria or virus, a more natural approach would be to restore normal drainage. Chiropractic adjustments applied to the neck correct subluxations, restores normal function, and reduces or eliminates tense neck musculature responsible for blocking the normal lymphatic drainage of the fluid. As the obstruction is removed, the excess fluid in the ears drain. The environment for the virus and bacterial growth is removed. The immune system isfree from interference and is able to function at its maximum potential. (4) Subluxations can cause adverse reaction in the child’s ability to fight disease. The body is then able to heal and fight any residual infection present.

The chiropractic approach to health care is natural. It does not try to stimulate or inhibit normal body function. It addresses the important relationship between the nervous system and disease; and the effects of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. Many illnesses may be manifested in your body function caused by subluxations. Your Chiropractor is the only doctor trained to correct Subluxation and can help your family. Having your spine checked for subluxations and getting them corrected throughout childhood, adolescence, and as an adult, you and your family will have a better opportunity to stay and be as healthy as possible. You can really be all that you can be.

1. Bates, B.; A guide to physical examination. 1979 J. B. Lippincot Company.
2. Center for Disease Control, Atlanta GA., Survey on Antibiotic Usage; Reported in the Atlanta Journal of Constitution, May 1995.
3. Cantekin, E., McGuire, T., Griffith, T.; Antimicrobial Therapy for Otitis Media with Effusion, JAMA 1991; 226;3309.
4. Fibelius, J.; An Overview of Neuroimmunomodulation and a Possible Correlation with Musculoskeletal System Function, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, August 1989.
5. Froom, J., Culpepper, L., et. Al; “Diagnosis and Antibiotic Treatment of Acute Otitis Media; Report from International Primary Care Network.” March 1990.
6. Salmon, D., “Why Kids Get Ear Infections”; Parenting Magazine, April 1994.