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Avoiding Ear Infections and Antibiotics

As a parent, being jolted awake in the middle of the night by your child’s cries of pain is absolutely heartbreaking. There’s not much you can do for them in the middle of the night but try to provide comfort while you wait it out.

Well, that’s the good news we have to share with this article all about avoiding ear infections and antibiotics – there is hope, answers, and help that do not involve drugs and surgery!

A chronic ear infection is a recurring buildup of fluids, inflammation, and swelling that plugs the eustachian tube in the middle ear, causing repeated pressure and pain.

This condition may often be referred to as chronic otitis media or recurrent ear infections. The number one cause of this condition is poor drainage and “plumbing” of the inner to middle ear through the eustachian tube.

Interestingly and unfortunately, since far too many pediatricians have turned to antibiotics for acute ear infections instead of the recommended watch-and-wait protocol, we now have research showing that antibiotics can actually increase the incidence of chronic (recurrent) ear infections.

Most ear infections are caused by the buildup of viruses in the middle ear, while very few are bacterial. This is why antibiotics have long been proven mostly ineffective for both acute and chronic ear infections and have long-term consequences to the child’s health.

Traditional medical treatment for ear infections often misses the mark because targeting the viral infection does not address the root cause of chronic ear infections. The number one issue that causes ear infections in the first place is the buildup of fluid because of poor drainage in the middle ear, eustachian tube, and really the entire ENT, respiratory, and lymphatic system.

Put simply, if the body can’t expel the viruses and bacteria, it becomes chronically congested with them, leading to ongoing inflammation and recurrent, chronic ear infections and other illnesses.

We refer to all this simply as “poor plumbing” and drainage. Just like a clogged drain in your home can cause the buildup of junk and crud, it’s honestly the same thing happening in your child’s inner ear.

Our home’s plumbing is crucial in getting unwanted things moving along and out of the way, and the nerves and muscles that control your child’s inner ear and eustachian tube perform the same function. If those nerves and muscles are not working properly, things get clogged up and backed up in the inner ear.

Then, if a child is also experiencing a growth spurt, teething, or picks up just a simple common cold from a sibling, daycare, or preschool, the combination of poor drainage and increased fluid buildup can be enough to cause acute and chronic ear infections.

Putting this all together, we find the real culprit with chronic ear infections in kids is poor drainage and plumbing. That whole cascade is often first caused by subluxation in the upper neck, cranial, and upper torso (lungs, lymph nodes) region.

Subluxation occurs when dysfunction of the spine affects the brains ability to perceive its environment correctly resulting in lack of proper function.

Since so many children experience a tough start to life through birth intervention and birth trauma, and since that physical strain and trauma most commonly affects the cranial and upper neck regions, subluxation in that area for so many kids is the primary culprit behind chronic ear infections.

Since pediatricians and ENTs are not trained to find and detect subluxation and neuromuscular interference, and since they only really know about drugs and surgery, this is why still today, millions of kids end up going through countless rounds of antibiotics and ear tube surgeries unnecessarily.

A chronic ear infection occurs when all the traditional signs of an ear infection listed below are present for an ongoing duration of 3 months or more.

Signs of these ear infections include:

  • Ear pain and discomfort that feels like pressure in the ear
  • Usually a low grade fever
  • Fussiness and crying
  • Pus-like drainage from the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Trouble sleeping

Who’s at Higher Risk of Getting Chronic Ear Infections?

Once again, the traditional medical system will focus on the more outdated and obvious explanations for the high risk of chronic ear infections. They’ll most commonly discuss things such as children having shorter or more narrow eustachian tubes and having parents or care providers who smoke around the child often.

But in our work as chiropractors, digging way deeper into finding the true cause of children’s health challenges, we repeatedly find the following correlations and case history findings increase the risk of a child developing chronic ear infections:

  • A stressful, emotionally challenging pregnancy for the mother
  • Birth interventions and trauma, such as forceps, vacuum extraction, induction, and C-section delivery
  • Health challenges as an infant, such as colic, reflux, and constipation
  • Early exposure to antibiotics and steroid-based medications
  • An early diet high in dairy, grains, gluten, etc.

Each of those early stressors increases the tension and stress on the nervous system, leaving it stuck in a more sustained sympathetic fight-or-flight response. That sustained sympathetic and subluxation then increases the tone and tension on all the soft tissues and muscles, including the Tensor Veli Palatini muscle we mentioned above, which gets too tight and wound up and stops proper drainage of the eustachian tube.

Additionally, sustained sympathetic tone creates a condition called dysautonomia, which leaves the body in a more inflammatory state and weakens the immune response.

Working with a chiropractor to restore proper balance and function to the nervous system, immune systems, and nerves and muscles that are involved in keeping the inner and middle ear healthy, draining, and functioning just right.

Prevention for Chronic Ear Infections

female chiro adjusting pregnant patientWithout a doubt preventing acute and chronic ear infections goes all the way back to the foundations of keeping the nervous system, immune system, and respiratory system balanced and functioning at their best. If there is too much stress, subluxation, and inflammation in the body, the child is susceptible to any and all illnesses. Young kids will be most prone to chronic ear infections since the first year or two of life, they are not moving (walking, running) as much on their own, and also go through so many rounds of teething and the natural congestion that causes.

Additionally, focusing on keeping the nerves and muscles of the upper neck, cranial system, and upper thoracic area free and clear of subluxation and interference is very important to helping prevent chronic ear infections.

We have found again and again that children receiving regular chiropractic care and living a clean, natural lifestyle have by far the lowest incidence of acute and chronic ear infections, and then in turn, get through illnesses and ear infections must faster, almost always achieving resolution without the use of antibiotics.

While a few studies, such as this one, show the results of chiropractic care for ear infections, many larger-scale studies need to be done going forward.

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