It’s estimated that over 50% of all infants experience an ear infection before the age of 1 and 75% by age 5.
In addition to the pain and irritation for your child, this childhood condition also means hours of lost sleep for you, the parent.
Also known as Otitis Media (OM), an ear infection is a condition of the middle ear. Here are some quick facts that may be helpful:
- A very high percentage of OM cases are caused by a virus, which means antibiotics would be of no benefit and can even cause harm to the immune system.
- Most cases will resolve on their own over time…”on their own” means the body’s immune system will take over and resolve the infection.
- Even the most conservative medical organizations recommend a “wait and see” attitude with the majority of OM cases.
This can be difficult for a parent to watch their child appear to be suffering, crying, and feeling uncomfortable, but the short-term trade off is exchanged for a stronger immune system and a healthier body long term.
Intervening when it’s not necessary can have future implications for your child’s developing immune system and it’s ability to function optimally later in life.
Why Are Ear Infections so Common in Children?
The Eustachian tube is a small tube that connects the middle ear to the throat and helps drain fluid from the middle ear out to the nasal passage in order to equalize pressure between the ear and the outside environment. If the tube is blocked, fluid builds up and puts pressure on the eardrum, which can rupture if the pressure is too strong. In a child, the tube is short, narrow and horizontal, making it easy for fluid and microbes to remain trapped in it, especially if structures around it are compressing it. In an adult, is it wider and angled down to allow gravity to assist in drainage. Besides bones, there are muscles surrounding the Eustachian tube. The nerves that control these muscles travel from the upper neck, so if there is birth injury to these areas, the nerves may affect how the muscles work. If the muscles cannot dilate the tube properly, this may cause an obstruction and lead to fluid buildup.
What Can You Do Now?
Absolutely anything to support the development of a healthy immune system is going to be protective today and down the road.
- Get adequate Omega 3 Fats. Try a pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplement to boost your child’s levels.
- Get your child moving! If your child is of walking (or crawling age), movement is a major immune system booster.
- Remove inflammatory foods like processed foods and cereal grains.
- Correct any identified Neuro-Structural Problems. Shifting of the upper spine disrupts proper function of the nerves that allow the Eustachian tube within the ear to drain properly. Correcting any structural spinal problems can restore nervous system function that allows not only fluids to drain better from the ears, but the body is also better able to run the immune system (and other systems) in the body, leaving children less vulnerable to outside factors
The bottom line is no matter what condition your child has or doesn’t have (yet), getting healthier and finding ways to build a better health foundation is always a good starting point.