Q: Can a chiropractor really help with chronic ear infections?
A: An ear infection, and the resultant painful buildup of fluid in the ear, is the most common ailment that sends a child to a pediatrician. Almost half of all children will have a middle ear infection before they’re one year old, and two-thirds will have had one before age three. The standard treatment is antibiotics, and for a recurrent problem, the surgical insertion — under general anesthesia — of tubes that help drain liquid inside the ear through the eardrum, or tympanic membrane, leaving scar tissue and the possibility of hearing impairment.
Research has shown that chiropractic treatment can be effective in helping children fend off these ear infections by themselves. Chiropractic manipulation of the upper part of the cervical spine, focusing on the occiput, the back of the skull, and the first vertebra, was effective in helping an ear infection. Manipulation appeared to relax muscles that allow the middle ear to drain better by releasing any restriction of the drainage line, which is called the Eustachian tube. A manual procedure to promote the drainage then allows for the fluid to flow out of the Eustachian tube and into the back of the throat. The fluid drains out of the ear, the infection goes away, and many times the child has no more recurrent infection problems because the problem of the ear not draining is fixed.
Of course, congenital problems like, say, a misshapen Eustachian tube, that can contribute to ear infections are outside the reach of chiropractic treatment. However, depending on where a child may be in the cycle of infections and antibiotics, he or she may need six to eight chiropractic treatments to be able to fight off the condition, and regular maintenance treatment to keep the proper alignment of vertebra and associated tissues allowing the ear to continue to drain and keeping the infections from returning. Talk with a chiropractor if you have an ear-infection prone child. With some anatomical pictures in front of you to see how this works, it becomes intuitive to give it a try.
Also, to any pediatricians reading today, I urge you to contact me to learn more about this procedure and give it a shot with some of your patients to see the effectiveness.
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