It is very common for children to experience ear infections. In fact, 80% of children experience an ear infection by the age of 3. Because of this, most parents believe this is normal and there is not much we can do about it.
Im here to tell you, COMMON does not mean NORMAL.
So WHY do children get ear infections? Most pediatricians will agree that its because your child's eustachian tube (the tube that drains the ear into the back of the throat) is just more horizontal during childhood, and there's nothing you can do other than wait it out or prescribe antibiotics. This follows the belief that ear drainage is dependent on gravity.
Let me ask you one question. Could you do a headstand and swallow? Hopefully your answer is yes, because it is possible to do a headstand and swallow. Which leads us to the understanding that GRAVITY, actually has little to do with drainage of the ears. Drainage of the ears is much more dependent on muscle, soft tissue and lymphatic function than it is on gravity. So this means, we need the muscles of the eustachian tube to be able to 'milk and massage' fluid out of the ears.
OK... so.... how the heck do we do that?
Let me just back track for a minute. How your child sat in your womb and how your child was born is the first area of stress on their delicate spine and nervous system. THAT, along with any bumps and falls or less than ideal positions they are frequently in (for example; does mom carry baby with his head bent to the side all day long?) can be a major cause for stress in the child's upper spine.
This can lead to bad plumbing of the ears! A small muscle called the Tensor Veli Palentini is attached to the eustachian tube and is responsible for opening the tube in order to equalize pressure and allow the middle ear to drain into the back of the throat. Structure and function in the neck need to be working properly in order for this muscle to do its job.
So, when this muscle is NOT doing its job, fluid gets caught in the ear and can't drain as well. Let me just say this is not an infection yet. BUT, when that fluid sits in the ear, it is a breeding ground for bacteria or virus'. NOW you have an ear infection.
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends a 'watch and wait' approach before administering antibiotics. This means we should not be handing out antibiotics at the first sign of every ear infection, because most of the time they go away on their own, and most of the time they are actually viral instead of bacterial.
Sometimes though, they DO NOT go away on their own, and they continually come back antibiotic after antibiotic. This is where we recommend getting the child's spine and nervous system checked for subluxations so that the child's drainage system can return to proper function. In this case, we are NOT treating the ear infection. We are treating the spine, and by removing stress in the spine, we can expect the body to function like it was designed to do.
If your child is struggling with chronic, recurring ear infections, please call our office (or find a pediatric chiropractor in your area) so we can help you!