Chiropractic and Ear Infections

Otitis media (middle ear infection)

Ear infections are affecting children in epidemic numbers.  By the age of three, over two-thirds of all children have had one or more episodes of otitis media or middle ear infection.  Does chiropractic offer a drug-free, less invasive alternative?

Case study

“An upset father brought his 9-year-old son with chronic ear infections to my office.  Five years prior, tubes were put in his ears.  The child was scheduled for another ear surgery and to have his swollen tonsils and adenoids removed.  He had been on and off antibiotics for the past six years.  The boy stopped complaining about his ears after the first (chiropractic) adjustment.  At a six-week evaluation there was no ear effusion in either ear.  Tonsils and adenoids were normal size.  The ENT doctor cancelled surgery.  After 5 months, this child has had no ear infections, no sore throats, no colds, no flu and has been on no medications.”  More parents are discovering chiropractic for their children with ear infections, often after first exploring medical care.

Antibiotics and surgery

The most common treatments prescribed for ear infections in children are antibiotics, oral decongestants and tubes in the ears.  The value of these treatments is controversial.  In one double-blind study, 171 children with acute otitis media were divided into four groups.  One group had surgery, the second group had antibiotics, the third group had surgery and antibiotics while the fourth group received no treatment at all.  Recovery time was about the same for all of the children.  Another study showed that “88% of patients with acute otitis media never need antibiotics…In those treated with antibiotics, risk of recurrence is high…administering antibiotics does not imply shortening of the disease.”  According to E.J. Cantekin, Professor of Otolaryngology, 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.”  There are numerous problems associated with antibiotic usage including allergic reactions, destruction of intestinal flora leading to yeast proliferation, and antibiotic resistance.  Ear infections have been reported to recur more often in children given antibiotics.

Tubes in the ears (tympanostomy)

Do tube operations work?  In controlled studies performed in Europe, children with bilateral chronic ear infections had a tube placed in one ear, with the other serving as a control.  The results for both ears were just about the same: “No benefit from the placement of tubes…and actually created some complications such as scarring and permanent perforation…”  Tubes in the ears have a large recurrence of infection rate while up to 25% of those with tubes have been reported to suffer from some hearing loss years later.

Dr. Mendelsohn on ear infection

According to pediatrician Robert Mendelsohn, “In the future,

we doctors may have to consider whether the enter panoply of therapy for simple ear infections (antibiotics, antihistamines, insertion of tubes, tonsillectomy) does not represent overkill for a condition that, except in malnourished children, is almost always self-limited.”  (In accordance with his philosophy of always doing the most conservative thing first, Dr. Mendelsohn would prescribe heated olive oil, dropped into the ear canal, and whiskey (by mouth) to alleviate the pain and allow everyone, patient included, to get some sleep while the infection cleared up all by itself).

The chiropractic approach

Chiropractic care is one of the best things you can give a child suffering from an ear infection.  Restoring the spine to its proper alignment through chiropractic care should result in the return of normal nerve supply…and ultimately normal function.

Research

In one study, 332 children (ages ranging from 27 days to 5 years) suffering from recurrent bouts of otitis media had been on repeated doses of antibiotics.  They were finally given chiropractic care.  After spinal adjustments, the children healed quickly, without antibiotics, and experienced few repeat infections.  In another study of 211 infants examined five days after birth who suffered from vomiting, hyperactivity and sleeplessness, chiropractic care frequently resulted in the immediate cessation of crying, muscular relaxation and sleepiness.  The authors (who are medical doctors) wrote that an unhealthy spine “causes many clinical features from central motor impairment to lower resistance to infections – especially ear, nose and throat infections.”  They assert that all newborns should have their spines checked by chiropractors as “the success of adjustment overshadows every other type of care.”  In another case study, a 4 ½-year-old girl with chronic ear infections, a 50% right ear hearing loss and adenoiditis received chiropractic care.  “A follow up visit to her pediatrician and ENT specialist found no sign of ear infection or inflammation, but her adenoids, which were the worst the ENT had ever seen, were perfectly normal and healthy…the family was told to continue chiropractic care because it had obviously worked.”

In conclusion

It is essential that a child with an ear infection has a chiropractic spinal check up.  Keeping your child’s spine free from spinal subluxations will help your child’s natural defenses against disease.  This will help you avoid using drugs (with all their side effects).  Give your child the great advantage of safer, more natural, drug-free chiropractic healthcare.

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