Ear infections are one of the hardest conditions for a parent to watch their child deal with. Their child is suffering with little to no relief, and the earaches often come back every few weeks or months. Antibiotics seem to provide little relief, and usually aren't long lasting. Ear tubes are an invasive procedure providing mixed results, sometimes falling out shortly after they are put in. What other treatment options are there for kids with chronic ear infections? To understand the treatments for ear infections, we need to understand the cause of ear infections!
What Causes Ear Infections?
Ear infections are a result of chronic fluid build up in the ear. This fluid provides food for bacteria to thrive and become an infection. Fluid by itself is not an infection! The fluid must be accompanied by other symptoms to be classified as an infection. Ear infections can also be viral or bacterial, meaning that antibiotics will not work 100% of the time. The only way to definitively tell if an infection is viral or bacterial is to puncture the ear drum and culture the fluid. This is considered invasive and unnecessary and is the reason why pediatricians will prescribe antibiotics without knowing if it is a viral or bacterial infection.
The Eustachian tube is a tube that helps drain fluid from the ear to the throat. As you can see in the picture above, children's Eustachian tubes are much more horizontal than an adult's. Combine this with the fact that infants spend much of their time lying on their back, and the fact that children's Eustachian tubes are much smaller in diameter, and you have a recipe for chronic fluid build up and plugged ears. Toddler's are also more prone to ear infections due to the small size and horizontal nature of their Eustachian tubes!
Food allergies also have a strong link to ear infections. This study in the Journal of Head and Neck Surgery showed that upwards of 25% of kids with food allergies may develop ear infections, compared to only 3% of kids without food allergies. The theory behind this is that allergies cause an inflammatory reaction and additional fluid build up in your child's ears.
How Can Chiropractic Help Ear Infections?
When a child comes into the clinic, we always start with a history and inspection of the ear to rule out more serious conditions. The safety of your child comes first and foremost! Next, we will provide various treatments to help the fluid drain from your child's ear. This includes massaging the neck to encourage lymphatic drainage, techniques such as the Eustachian tube sweep, and gentle chiropractic adjustments to relieve tension and stimulate additional fluid drainage. We will provide valuable nutritional advice to help remove the most common food allergies from your child's diet and discuss whether additional allergy testing would be of benefit. We will also teach you some things you can do at home to help your child feel better while their bodies heal!
Call (612) 440-5776 or schedule an appointment online!