It still is crazy to me how often I see children with ear infections. The science and understanding behind what’s causing ear infections in extremely clear, yet we are still stuck hearing the same stories over and over. Kids are continually put on multiple rounds of antibiotics and suffer immune challenges. Enough is enough. It’s time for some solutions.
One of the most common myths that is being perpetuated in our society is the idea that ear infections occur because of horizontal tubes not allowing proper drainage from the inner ear. The simple answer is that this just isn’t true.
Another myth that has been around for quite some time is that ear infections respond well to antibiotics. Again this is not valid. In 2007 the American Academy of Pediatrics gathered to discuss the uses and benefits of antibiotics for ear infections. After deliberating it was decided that the guidelines for treating ear infections should be changed to a “watchful waiting” approach. Ear infections typically resolved on their own and it was discovered that many ear infections were actually viral in nature, not bacterial as once believed. 85% of doctors agreed with this change.
A survey taken just three years later showed that only 15% of doctors followed these new guidelines. When questioned as to why they didn’t follow the new guidelines, the common response was the “pressure to satisfy parents.”
It’s More Than Just An Ear Infection
The truth of the matter is that it is more than just an ear infection. Really it’s a three part problem that reveals itself as an ear infection in some children.
- Poor Plumbing
- Neuro-Immune Dysfunction
- Inflammation From Diet
By tackling each of part of this three part problem, parents can feel empowered to not just help their child heal from a current ear infection, but help prevent further ear infections from occurring.
It All Starts With How We Birth Our Kids
This topic alone deserves an entire series dedicated to it, but for the sake of time we’ll get down to the bare essentials of this topic. Birth plays an enormous role in how the child starts off their health and life. Birth can be a very traumatic experience for mom but also for the newborn as well.
If interventions are used during the labor and delivery such as forceps, vacuum, excessive pulling or twisting, c-section deliveries, pitocin, or even epidurals, it increases the likelihood of stress and possible birth trauma on the child.
With birth trauma, the main concern is stress or injury to the infant’s delicate neck and skull. In a majority of the interventions mentioned above the primary area of stress is placed on either the skull or upper neck of the infant, which houses the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord. If this area is effected it can wreak havoc on an infants developing nervous system and immune system.
Please refer to our article “How Birth Can Affect Your Child’s Health” in the article section of our site for a more in depth review of birth trauma and it’s effects.
Birth trauma can be on the main causes behind a condition known as Vertebral Subluxation, a misalignment of one or more of the vertebrae (bones of the spine) that can place stress upon the central nervous system, adversely effecting overall function of the body. Other causes can be childhood falls, car accidents, emotional stress, or even stressful pregnancies.
The most common subluxation effecting children today is in the upper neck, commonly occurring from birth trauma. The nerves exiting from this area of the spine control immune, digestive, respiratory, and cardiovascular function. They also control very small muscles within the skull. One of those being the Tensor Veli Palatini (TVP) muscle.
This muscle is an involuntary muscle, meaning we do not have direct control over it. The TVP muscle has it’s attachment to the inner ear and acts on the inner ear by “milking” mucus and fluid from the inner ear down the back of the throat to be discarded.
If the nerves controlling this muscle are being interfered with by a subluxation in the upper neck, it can adversely affect the function of this muscle and cause fluid to start backing up in the inner ear, which serves as a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.
This leads us to the next part of this problem: Neuro-Immune Dysfunction. As we mentioned above the upper area of the spine houses the brainstem and important nerves that govern the immune system. Therefore subluxations present in the upper neck can negatively impact the immune system and leave a child more susceptible to oncoming invaders like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
So if we have a plumbing problem in our inner ear that’s causing fluid to back up, letting bacteria and viruses build up, and on top of that we have a weakened immune system that’s not functioning at 100% to fight off these invaders. What do you think is the next logical step of this equation…
AN EAR INFECTION!
This another reason why antibiotics have had very minimal success on ear infections, thus allowing for ear infections to recur and become chronic. It’s not addressing the REAL PROBLEM.
Inflammation From Diet
The last part of this equation is more like the icing on the cake. It may not be the entire problem, but it sure doesn’t help. It’s inflammation from diet.
Inflammation causes a build up fluid to occur throughout the body and if we have a poor plumbing issue in the inner ear, last thing we want is more fluid being built up in the body.
The three leading causes of inflammation in the body from diet are dairy, gluten, and sugar.
Let’s start with dairy. Diary has become incredibly processed due to pasteurization and homogenization. Pasteurization is when they heat up the milk to incredibly high temperatures to kill off the bad bacteria that may be present. Unfortunately heat can’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria so when they end up killing off the good, probiotic bacteria along with it. Then it gets homogenized, meaning it get forced through a filter to make it creamier. By doing this however it changes the composition of the milk making it more unrecognizable to the body. When the body does not recognize something that has entered the body, it responds with inflammation.
Sugar, for many reasons, is not great on the body. More specifically processed sugar. Processed sugar leads to higher insulin levels and taxes our hormonal system. It also creates a high amount of inflammation in the body.
The last item is gluten. Gluten has come under a lot of resistance in recent years as more research has come up against. The main issue with gluten is that when it enters the body it turns into sugar, which then leads to inflammation.
So What Can A Chiropractor Do
A Chiropractor addresses the first two causes of the ear infection. Chiropractors are the only doctors specifically training to analyze, detect, and correct these subluxations. By finding and removing these subluxations, a Chiropractor restores proper alignment and motion of the spine, which restores proper function of the most important system in your body, the nervous system. When the nervous system is restored to optimal functioning, the Tensor Veli Palatini Muscle can function properly and allow for proper drainage from the inner ear. This also means that the immune system will be working better than ever, leaving your child with a healthier and more responsive immune system.
Lastly, by removing these subluxations and removing stress on the nervous system, allowing it to perform at 100%, your child will now be to fully express their health at 100%, allowing them to live more vibrant, abundant, happy, and healthy lives.
Take a look at our 6 Action Steps to successfully deal with Ear Infections.
6 Action Steps
- Chiropractic – Get your child checked to see if these subluxations/misalignments are affecting your ability to properly drain and have normal immune function.
- Be weary of Antibiotics – More parents are becoming aware of the dangers and shortcomings of antibiotics. A study done in 2009 shows that children 6 months to 2 years, who had taken antibiotics for ear infections, were 63% more likely for recurring ear infections as opposed to the placebo group. Research shows that if it is truly an infection, it tends to be viral in nature, meaning antibiotics would be of no help.
- Take Probiotics – A large amount of our immune system is found in the digestive system. Antibiotics unfortunately destroy a large part of our good bacteria in the gut. If your child has taken antibiotics at any point in their life, probiotics can provide immense help. Probiotics build up the good bacteria in our digestive tract can help support your child’s immune system and recovery from infection.
- Most ear infections clear up on their own – Your body is your best doctor, the body is very capable to taking care of this issue. It’s important to remember that healing takes time, just like everything else in our bodies, it isn’t a quick fix.
- When to see your doctor – If your child’s fever rises above 104 degrees or your child is having seizures.
- What if it’s an infection – If it truly is an ear infection, it’s most likely viral in nature. Once again antibiotics will not be effective. The best way to combat it is to give your body what it needs to fight back. Try foods and supplements that contain potent antiviral properties such as Zinc, Elderberry, and colloidal silver. Refer to instructions on their labels for proper usage.
1 Bezáková N et al. Recurrence up to 3.5 years after antibiotic treatment of acute otitis media in very young Dutch children: Survey of trial participants. BMJ 2009 Jun 30; 338:b2525. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b2525) – See more at: http://www.jwatch.org/em200908070000001/2009/08/07/antibiotic-use-children-with-otitis-media#sthash.8SNkwB75.dpuf