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Health Tip of the Week: Ear Infections

Acute Otitis Media, or middle ear infection, is a painful condition for children and for their parents who have to watch their child suffer.

Ear infections result from fluid build-up in the inner ear. If the fluid cannot drain, bacteria may grow in the ear fluid and cause an infection. The medical approach to ear infections is antibiotic therapy. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections and will typically clear the infection from a child's ear.

What happens if your child suffers from reoccurring middle ear infections? Reoccurring means that once your child finishes the prescribed antibiotic therapy and the infection has been cleared, a few weeks later the infection reappears. Medical treatment is again antibiotic therapy which will clear the infection. If the infection comes back, your child is now on the antibiotic merry-go-round. The on and off treatment of antibiotics is now causing damage to your child's digestive system and altering the beneficial gut bacteria needed for good health.

In addition, antibiotic use over time will create antibiotic resistant bacteria in the body. According to EJ Cantekin, professor of otlolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, "There is no evidence that antibiotics are effective in treating acute otitis media or chronic otitis media with effusion (fluid in the ear) and there is clear evidence that antibiotics are harmful over used."

If the ear infections continue after 3-4 rounds of antibiotic therapy, the doctor will recommend a surgical procedure where small tubes will be placed in the ears to help the bacterial ridden fluid drain.

The chiropractic approach to ear infections has to do with correcting the cause of the problem (fluid build-up in the ear) as opposed to treating the symptom (infection).

The anatomy of the ear in children is different than adults. The ear of both children and adults has a tube where fluid drains through. In adults, the tube points at a downward angle which allows the fluid to drain. In small children, the tube is in the developmental stage and is more horizontal than downward.

Research has shown that if the child's neck muscles are tight, the neck muscle tension causes the tube to be horizontal, not allowing the fluid to drain. Instead the fluid pools in the tube and a bacterial infection is the result.

The chiropractor examines the child's neck for vertebral subluxation, a condition of misalignment that results in muscle tension. If the child has subluxations in the neck, the chiropractor very gently works on the neck soft tissue (muscles) and with a specific technique (extremely gentle), adjusts the neck vertebra.

The chiropractic adjustive motion in the neck relaxes the tense and tight neck muscles and the tension on the ear tube subsides. This results in the tube pointing towards its normal position and the fluid is able to drain. Once the fluid drains, the body can heal the ear infection on its own without antibiotics or surgical tubes.

Chiropractic care has an excellent record of safety and effectiveness for infants and children suffering from ear infections.

In over 30 years of practice, the most common complaint seen in my office for infants and small children is ear infections. I cannot begin to tell you how many tube surgical procedures were canceled after a couple of weeks of chiropractic care.


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