The cold and flu season is upon us. And as always, brings with it coughing, sneezing, runny noses and congestion. In some cases, these symptoms will develop into the dreaded ear infection. Middle ear infections occur at any age, but are much more common in younger kids, ages 3 months to 3 years. Why are younger kids more susceptible to frequent and reoccurring ear infections? The answer is in the anatomy. At birth the eustachian tube (the tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose and throat) is narrow and horizontally positioned. As we get older, this tube widens and transitions to a more downward or vertical presentation, allowing for easier drainage from the middle and inner ear. The horizontal presentation and narrower canal of this tube early on, allows fluid to become trapped in the eustachian tube and back up into the middle ear. Stagnant fluid then becomes a cesspool for viruses and bacteria to collect and accumulate. As the body tries to fight the infection, inflammation occurs which contributes to the increasing pressure building in the middle and inner ear. This scenario causes muscles in the upper part of the neck surrounding the eustachian tubes to tighten and further constrict the tubes increasing pressure, pain and irritability.
Traditional, allopathic treatment for middle ear infections usually involves several regimens of antibiotics increasing in strength. If the antibiotics don’t work and the infection does not clear on its own, tubes are inserted surgically into the eustachian tubes to allow and promote better drainage. Most of the time antibiotics are ineffective against the antigen causing the ear infection because the antigen is viral. When the antigen is bacterial, antibiotics like amoxicillin are ineffective due to bacterial resistance that has developed from overuse of antibiotics. Usually, stronger antibiotics, like augmentin, are then prescribed which are very hard on the digestive system causing abdominal discomfort, diarrhea and yeast infections which further causes pain and irritability. Again, no antibiotic, regardless of strength, is effective if the antigen causing the infection is viral. The ineffective treatment of antibiotics usually leads to frequent, reoccurring ear infections. The next step in the allopathic treatment protocol is surgically inserting tubes into the eustachian tubes which does allow the middle ear to drain, but usually leads to reoccurring inflammation of the tonsils and adenoids as these structures are then overwhelmed with fighting infection and usually have to be surgically removed due to impairment of normal breathing.
This sequence can take several months to play out and is very invasive and hard on the child’s body. An alternative to the allopathic treatment plan is a very easy and gentle chiropractic adjustment to the upper cervical region of the neck. This adjustment can be modified and performed on all ages. The adjustment corrects misalignment in the upper neck and relieves muscular tension caused by inflammation. This then allows the eustachian tubes to drain naturally and allows the immune functions of the eustachian tube, adenoids and tonsils to function normally and not become overwhelmed and compromised. Using natural garlic drops in the ears can help fight the infection and expedite the immune process without compromising the rest of the body. This alternative process to combating ear infections is much less invasive and usually corrects the problem much faster (most of the time within a couple of days) than the very invasive, prolonged allopathic route.
So if your child is experiencing their first middle ear infection, or they have experienced frequent, reoccurring infections, contact a chiropractor as an alternative treatment for this aggravating condition.