Ear infections are one of the most common and most painful childhood illnesses. It is estimated that by 1 year old, half of all children will have had an ear infection, and by age 2, two-thirds of all children will have had at least one ear infection. Middle ear infections are one of the leading reasons children visit their pediatrician, and they are the number one reason children visit a chiropractor.
How will you know if your child is having an ear infection? Since most children are likely to have their first middle ear infection before they can speak, parents must learn to watch for signs and symptoms that suggest an ear infection is present. Most commonly a child will have a fever, will be fussy or irritable, and will have ear pain. Younger children will indicate the ear pain by pulling on the ear or rubbing the ear, while older children will complain of pain or hearing loss.
What causes infants and toddlers to have ear infections more often than any other age group? The Eustachian tube, the tube that allows the middle ear to drain, is horizontal in small children. Because the tube is horizontal, instead of being tilted downward like in older children and adults, is does not drain as easily. This makes a backup of fluid into the middle ear much more common in infants and toddlers than older children.
There are also other factors which contribute to the development of ear infections. Allergies to certain foods is one of the leading contributors to childhood ear infections. There are over 16 scientific studies that show many children with chronic ear infections have food allergies to milk, wheat, eggs, citrus, or peanuts1. Milk and dairy allergies are the most common contributors to ear infections. Ear infections can also be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Generally, these ear infections are preceded by an upper respiratory infection like a cold or a cough. Also, children are more likely to have an ear infection if they live in a home with a smoker, or if they attend day care and are exposed to many other children.
Often in a child with chronic ear infections, ear tubes are recommended by the pediatrician. Ear tubes are small plastic channels that are inserted into the eardrum during a surgical procedure. The tubes help to equalize the pressure in the middle ear and help to prevent fluid build-up into the middle ear. However, in the majority of the cases, the eardrum pushes the tube out within a few months. In 20-30% of the cases, the tubes must be reinserted during another surgical procedure.
So how can you help to prevent ear infections in your child? First, avoiding allergens, like cow’s milk, can help to reduce the number of ear infections your child will have. Consider using a rotation diet where milk is avoided for 2 full weeks, then reintroduce it to the diet every 4 days. Breastfeeding can also help to reduce the number of ear infections. Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect your child from infection, and suckling helps to continually depressurize the middle ear which makes a backup of fluid less likely. Also, a good multiple vitamin will provide your child with all of the vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain a healthy lining in the middle ear, and to maintain a healthy immune system.
As mentioned before, ear infections are the number one reason for children to visit a chiropractor. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics showed a strong connection between chiropractic adjustments and resolving ear infections. In this study, children with chronic ear infections were given a series of adjustments, and 80% of the children did not have another ear infection in the next 6 months! This is a very promising success rate. If you are considering ear tubes or are tired of giving your child antibiotics, consider chiropractic care as a conservative approach to chronic ear infections. Chiropractic care is safe for children, all adjustments are extremely gentle, and the adjustments are modified for the child’s size.
To determine if chiropractic care could help relieve your child’s ear infections, or to speak with a chiropractor in the Edwardsville, IL area, call Dr. Emily Brueggeman at 618-692-0000 . Ask for a free Invitation to Health which includes a consultation and screening to determine if your child’s case is a chiropractic case.