What is Otitis Media?

Ear infections are one of the most common reasons that parents take their children to visit the doctor. In the United States, it is the most frequent primary diagnosis made at the physicians office of children under 15 years of age, and is the most prevalent pediatric disorders presenting to chiropractic offices. There are different types of ear infections, however the most common is otitis media, meaning inflammation and infection of the middle ear. This can be acute or chronic (pain that is short lasting or one that comes and goes), with or without effusion (swelling/fluid).

The signs and symptoms of otitis media include:

  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Swollen neck lymph glands
  • Sinus congestion
  • Irritability
  • Fullness in the ear
  • Hearing loss in the affected ear
  • Tugging on the ear
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness and or nausea or vomiting
  • Red ear drum

More than two thirds of all children have had one or more episodes of acute otitis media by the age of 3 years.


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Why do we get Ear Infections?

The classic medical model used to describe the cause of otitis media is, an event (usually a viral upper respiratory infection) that results in congestion throughout the respiratory tract (including the middle ear). This causes the eustachian tube to become congested and result in obstruction of the narrow isthmus (narrowest part of the tube). The immaturity of the tube can further the obstruction and allow for continued fluid to build up in the ear.

A chiropractic reasoning for why ear infections occurs is that restricted function and drainage of the lymph nodes in the neck, in combination with increased muscle tension of the neck muscles and restricted motion of the bones of the neck all contribute to congestion and inflammation within the ear tubes.

What are the treatment options available?

Chiropractic care is based on normalising ear tube function and immune system function. The tubes in the ears rely on appropriate contraction of certain small muscles. These muscles need to have proper alignment and motion with the skull and neck bones to ensure that the specific nerves can communicate freely to them. A gentle and safe chiropractic adjustment can improve the function of the ear tube and immune system decreasing the symptoms and removing the cause of the ear infections. This means that the likely hood of recurrent infections is greatly reduced. This saves not only your child a lot of pain but saves you many return trips to your doctor and further courses of antibiotics and other medications.
Antibiotics are not only costly, but can also have adverse effects and have been shown to have only small, short-term improvements in the management of inner ear infections.

How does a Chiropractor help treat Ear Infections?

Chiropractic care focuses on normalising and improving body functions. Chiropractors identify areas of the spine that have abnormal or reduced motion which often results in disrupted nervous system function. Disrupted nerve function causes imbalances within the body and this can result in decreased health. When this happens in the upper spine, one of the consequences can be increased incidence of ear infections.

Chiropractic adjustments restore motion to the spine allowing the body to normalise physiology, this promotes drainage of the lymphatic system, helps to decrease muscle tone of affected surrounding muscles and aids the immune function to recover from underlying microbes.

“Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” ..Hippocrates, 460-377 BC

Are Chiropractic adjustments safe for my child?

Yes, chiropractic adjustments are gentle and safe. They are a non-invasive form of health care that works with, and promotes the bodies own healing abilities. A gentle hold or force is used to restore motion to the spine and enhance the nervous system. Subsequent visits may be needed to ensure the body has responded to care, and to promote further healing.

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