Chiropractic and ear infections in children
When a baby is born, their middle ear is almost horizontal as the jaw area has not yet fully developed. This means that their ear has a harder time draining any fluid away. As children age, their face becomes longer and this pulls the middle ear into a more vertical position. This is why chronic ear infections tend to resolve when the child is 7-8 years old.
The birth process commonly causes neck problems, especially if there has been intervention in the birth such as forceps or vacuum extraction.
Neck problems cause an increase in muscle tone, which impedes the underlying lymphatic system. The middle ear drains into the lymphatic system so if this system is blocked up, the ear cannot drain and it becomes a wet petri-dish, just waiting for the next bug to land in it. Infection (usually viral) often results which causes a build up of fluid behind the ear drum. Symptoms include painful pressure and often a temperature. Most paediatricians will treat ear infections with antibiotics such as amoxycillin or ampicillin, while the more severe and frequent cases will be treated by tubes (grommits) placed in the ears via surgery.
Chiropractic normalises the function of the neck and lets the lymphatic system drain the middle ear, drying the middle ear out and reducing the likelihood of infection.
Chiropractors do this by specifically working on the vertebral alignment of the upper neck, and by releasing the muscles around the area. Techniques for children are gentle and safe, and children generally respond very quickly.
Research has shown that not only does chiropractic help with the resolution of ear infections, but that children under chiropractic care enjoy better health than those under traditional medical care (allopathic care).
Ear infections and antibiotics
This is a quote directly from a respected medical journal:
“Recent evidence has thrown into question the use of antibiotics and the length of treatment, if prescribed. The growing world-wide development of multidrug resistant bacteria, the uncertainty of diagnosis, and that up to one third of cases of AOM (acute otitis media or ear infection) are viral in origin have made popular the ‘wait and see’ approach to the initial prescription of antibiotics….
In several randomised clinical trials, antibiotics provided only a small benefit. In a meta-analysis of more than 2000 children with AOM, ear pain resolved spontaneously without antibiotics in 66% by 24 hours and in 80% by day 7. “
J Am Board Fam Pract 2001 (Nov); 14(6):474-476
“Clinical Evidence Shows Limited Effect of Antibiotic Treatment on Children with Acute Otitis Media.”
A study conducted by a Medical Centre in the USA looked into the apparent benefits of antibiotic therapy as a treatment for ear infections.
Results: The researchers determined that nearly two-thirds of children with uncomplicated acute otitis media recover from pain and fever within 24 hours of diagnosis without treatment by antibiotics.
In addition to this over 80% recover from pain and fever within one to seven days.
Wheezing is a common side effect of antibiotic use, particularly erythromycin. Further antibiotic prescriptions can turn this wheezing into asthma. The association between antibiotic exposure and asthma is accepted by the medical profession and the Health Department of Australia.
Researchers in the Netherlands performed a primary care based randomised, double blind trial of amoxycillin versus placebo for acute otitis media in children. The study looked at 240 children aged 6 months to 2 years, who were prescribed either a sugar syrup or 40mg/kg per day of amoxycillin. Results found:
- Most children who took amoxycillin still had persistent symptoms at 4 days. In fact, only 13% were less likely to exhibit persistent symptoms at day 4 and were less likely to take pain medication.
- There was no significant difference between those receiving amoxycillin ar those receiving the placebo in otoscopic findings (examination of the ear), pain duration, or crying.
- The tympanometric findings in both groups were similar at a six week follow up examination.
“The role of the chiropractic adjustment in the care and treatment of 332 children with otitis media”.
This study involved 332 children from 27 days old to 5 years old. It investigated the effects of chiropractic adjustments on children with otitis media using tympanography as an objective measure.
Between 4 and 6 adjustments were performed. Otoscopic examination took between 6-8 days to normalise. Tympanographic examination took between 8 and 11 days to normalise.
“The results indicate that there is a strong correlation between the chiropractic adjustment and the resolution of otitis media for the children in this study. “