chiropractic and ear infections

Chiropractic and Ear Infections

Acute otitis media (AOM), is the most common form of childhood ear infections. In fact, 80 percent of children have at least one ear infection before their 3rd birthday. 40 percent will have six or more before age 7. It accounts for nearly 30 million primary care visits at a cost of $5 billion per year.

While there are a number of medical approaches to this condition, whether having tubes inserted or antibiotics, the American Pediatric Association says the best approach is to watchfully wait it out. As a parent, relative, or guardian, it’s hard not to want to do something. It’s important, though, to understand why ear infections happen. Why are they more common in children? What are some children more prone than others?

Ear infections are most often caused by a build up of fluid in the middle ear. Often this happens because the Eustachian (or auditory) tube can’t properly drain, and the fluid becomes trapped just behind the ear drum. The auditory tube normally allows air and liquid to drain from the ear to the back of the throat. Both children and adults have this structure, which begs the question, why do children get ear infections much more often?

chiropractic and ear infection

Pictured above are illustrations of a pediatric and adult ear. Notice in the diagram of the child, the Eustachian tube sits horizontal when compared to the angled orientation in an adult. This can lead to a great chance that fluids become stagnant and unable to drain.

Most commonly, AOMs are treated one of three ways. Often an antibiotic may be prescribed to ward off infection. Prophylactic (or precautionary) use in the past has led to the development of resistant bacteria. This has brought about the second form of treatment, observation. Finally, and especially if the infections recur often, a tympanostomy, or “tubes,” we be performed to assist in drainage from the middle ear.

There May be Another Way

There may be a structural chiropractic solution for ear infections.

Attaching to the skull and the auditory tube is a small muscles, the tensor veli palatini. When this works correctly, it allows the Eustachian tube to drain of air or fluid as you swallow or chew. Think about flying or driving up a big hill. Remember that feeling of pressure and swallowing to get rid of it? That was the tensor veli palatini at work.

This small muscle is controlled by the trigeminal nerve which originates in the upper part of the spine. If a shift occurs in this area, it can obstruct the proper function of this nerve and what it controls. This causes this small muscle to spasm or tighten around the auditory tube decreasing its ability to drain

Shifts in the upper spine can often be the underlying culprit to persistent ear infection in children.

These shifts in the upper spine also prevent the immune system from functioning at its best. Children with these shifts may have lowered immunity and be more susceptible to ear, or other, infections.

If your child suffers from recurring ear infections, there may be a structural solution. A qualified pediatric chiropractor can carefully examine your child to determine if shifts of the spine are contributing to the problem. These shifts are gently guided back toward their normal position. This allows the nerve to function properly, the tensor veli palatini to relax, and the auditory tube to drain properly.

At Keystone Chiropractic, both doctors have additional training through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) to care for infants and children. If you have a friend, co-worker, or family member that has a child in their life with this issues, feel free to forward this information to them! Don’t hesitate to contact us today. This may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

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