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All about those PESKY Ear Infections!
Chiropractic and Otitis Media in Children
Dr. Tara Hogan D.C.Otitis Media is better known to most parents as an earache or ear infection. Mostparents are familiar with the medical treatments for this condition: antibiotics, tubes,and/or the "wait and see" approach. It can be frustrating when none of these methods seem to work or prevent future infections. This may be because common medical treatments for otitis media do not fully address the cause of the problem.
Chiropractic focuses on clearing nervous system interference by realigning the spine. A chiropractic adjustment establishes a better connection between brain and body. Many times a signal coming from the brain going to any part of the body (in this case the ear) can get blocked due to a misaligned vertebra. This is called a subluxation. When the ear is involved, chiropractic looks to the neck for misalignment. The superior cervical ganglion is a large bundle of nerves in the neck that communicates with cranial nerves inside the brain. These cranial nerves communicate directly with the muscles surrounding the eustachian tube. The eustachian tube is how the ear allows itself to drain internally. An ear infection can occur if the musculature surrounding the eustachian tube is not getting proper nerve flow due to a misaligned neck. The increased tone of the muscles around the eustachian tube may cause it to narrow or close up, thus not allowing the ear to drain, which attracts infection and allows pressure to occur inside the ear.
Chiropractic seeks out neck misalignments or subluxations, which can cause increased muscle tone around the eustachian tube disallowing the ear to drain. A very gentle safe and non-invasive adjustment may be given to infants and children suffering from otitis media. Adjustments allow nerve flow to be restored to the eustachian tube and drainage function to be improved. A RCT study by Mills et al "involving 57 children with recurrent otitis media (OM) found those receiving manipulative therapy had fewer episodes of OM, fewer surgical procedures and higher rates of normal tympanograms." Not only can a chiropractic adjustment help an acute infection of the ear, but it may also prevent future episodes from occurring due to restored function of the eustachian tube.
Source: Mills mV, Henley CE, Barnes LLB et al. The use of osteopathic manipulative therapy as adjuvant therapy in children with recurrent acute otitis media. Arch Ped Adolesc Med 2003;157(9):861-66.
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