Ear infections can be a common ailment for young children, but for some kids, occasional ear infections turn into a chronic problem. Today's ear infections are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics, which can be particularly troublesome if your child gets them regularly. Fortunately, there are natural remedies to try before opting for more prescriptions or other invasive treatment options.
How chiropractic works
Ear infections are typically caused by a pooling of fluid within the middle ear that begins to cause irritation and pressure. In many cases, the lack of drainage within the ear is actually caused by a misalignment in the cervical (neck) vertebrate — and that's where chiropractic can help.
Chiropractors are doctors of the skeletal and nervous system that are specifically trained to realign the bones of the spine. New Hampshire-based chiropractor Dr. Erica Forzese explains how the misalignment impacts ear drainage: "Misalignment of the cervical vertebrae, especially the top two bones in the neck, can directly correlate to a tightness or spasm of muscles in the middle ear and that has a bearing on drainage." The resulting backup of fluid can then lead to increased pressure and pain within the ear.
Dr. Forzese says that by realigning the neck bones, the tension in the muscles is alleviated which helps to clear the blockage. "An adjustment normalizes the tension in the tissues to allow for relaxation of the small muscles surrounding the Eustachian tube and promotes proper drainage from the ear," she says. She also notes that sometimes the ear is not actually infected with bacteria, just irritated from pressure, in which case antibiotic prescriptions are not always effective.
For families dealing with recurrent ear infections, chiropractic care can be a life saver. TaiLeah Madill experienced chronic ear infections as a child, and found relief through chiropractic. "My pediatrician wanted to put tubes in, but my mom started to look for alternatives. We found a chiropractor and within a few sessions it cleared up and I never needed tubes," she says.
Forzese says that chiropractic adjustments can eliminate the need for ear tubes in many cases, and can reduce the need for replacement tubes in children who have already had prior ear surgeries.
Other natural remedies
In addition to chiropractic adjustments, Dr. Forzese recommends garlic oil drops in the opening of the affected ear, and even breast milk in the ear if the child's mother is lactating and has expressed milk available. "If there is a bacterial infection involved, the antibacterial properties in these two remedies will be effective," Forzese says.
Dr. Forzese also suggests discontinuing pacifier use temporarily, if not all together, when infection strikes. "Pacifier usage promotes continuous salivary production and the increase in fluid can back up into the Eustachian tube, especially at night," she says.
Of course there are times when medical intervention is helpful, or even necessary in the treatment of ear infections, but chiropractic care is a minimally invasive first step that is safe, natural and effective.