About half of all kids will suffer at least one ear infection before turning two, making it one of the most common childhood illnesses. For many children, ear infections are a chronic problem. It may seem like as soon as one clears up, another starts. If frequent ear infections are causing you concern, a pediatric chiropractor may be able to help. Read on for the facts about ear infections and a chiropractor's role in their treatment.
What Is an Ear Infection?
An ear infection occurs when the ear becomes infected by a virus or bacteria or a fluid buildup in a part of the ear. The immune system responds by triggering inflammation, leading to unpleasant ear infection symptoms.
Types of Ear Infections
There are three types of ear infections:
• Outer ear infection or otitis externa is an infection that occurs in the outer ear.
• Middle ear infection or acute otitis media is an infection caused by bacteria or a virus in the middle part of the ear.
• Middle ear infection with effusion describes a buildup of fluid in the ear that is not accompanied by a bacterial or viral infection.
Causes of Ear Infection in Kids
Outer ear infections are frequently caused by water. When moisture builds up in the ear canal, it provides a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. As a result, kids who are frequent swimmers are more likely to develop otitis externa. Middle ear infections are often triggered by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, or the viruses that cause colds and the flu. Exposure to cigarette smoke and impurities in the environment can increase the risk of ear infections.
Ear Infection Symptoms in Kids
Knowing how to tell if your child has an ear infection can help ensure promptly receiving treatment. Signs to look for are:
• Loss of appetite
• Tugging or pulling on an ear
• Problems sleeping
• Increased crying or fussiness
• Lack of response to sounds
• Fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
• Drainage from the ear
Older children may complain of pain or a feeling of pressure or fullness when they have an ear infection.
Can a Chiropractor Help Ear Infections?
There is some evidence to suggest that ear infections in children may stem from problems with the spine. During the trauma of birth, the cervical vertebrae may become misaligned, leading to pressure on nerves that lead to the Eustachian tube. Researchers think this may make fluid more likely to build up in the ear. Chiropractors can perform adjustments to realign the vertebrae. One study found that 80 percent of participants who underwent chiropractic adjustments for ear infections did not have a repeat flareup for six months after the treatment protocol ended.
How To Choose a Chiropractor for Ear Infections
When choosing a chiropractor for ear infections, look for the following:
• Certification or training in pediatric chiropractics. A pediatric chiropractor or family chiropractor with training in pediatrics will have the knowledge needed to give your child the best possible treatment.
• Experience treating ear infections. Look to see if the website of a chiropractor mentions ear infection treatment. If they don't, send an email or phone call to inquire if the doctor has treated children with ear infections.
• Positive online reviews. It's always a good idea to google the chiropractor's name and read the reviews that turn up online.
• Insurance acceptance. Double-check whether or not the chiropractor you are considering accepts your type of insurance. If they don't, or your child is uninsured, find out the cost of treatment in advance.
Other Steps You Can Take to Address Ear Infections
In addition to chiropractic care, the following preventative measures may help your child experience fewer ear infections:
• Hand-washing. To reduce the spread of germs, make sure your child washes their hands frequently along with everyone else in the household.
• Breastfeed for as long as possible. Babies who are breastfed exclusively until they are six months old often have stronger immune systems.
• Quit smoking. Smoking around your child can make them more likely to suffer ear infections.
• Dry ears thoroughly. After your child swims or bathes, use a soft towel to dry the outer ear gently.