Thursday, January 21, 2010

Does your child get ear infections?

By Dr. Amir Mahmud

Does your child suffer from chronic ear infections? If so, did you know that chiropractic care is one of the best ways to help children suffering from ear infections? Let’s take a look at what an “ear infection” is, some common causes of middle ear infection, why it is common in children, and traditional treatment vs. alternative treatments.

Otitis Media (Middle Ear Infection) is the inflammation and/or infection of the middle ear, the area just behind the ear drum. It happens when the Eustachian tube(auditory tube), which connect the middle ear to the nose, become blocked with fluid. With the infection, mucus, pus, and bacteria can also pool behind the eardrum, causing pressure and pain. Some factors that make otitis media more prevalent in children than adults include bacterial colonization in the absence of antibody, frequent upper respiratory infections, exposure to parental cigarette smoke and change in Eustachian tube function/anatomy. Let’s take a closer look at each scenario and see how it can contribute to ear infections in children.

Bacterial Colonization:
o “Colonization with Streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenza, or Moraxella catarrhalis increases the risk of otitis media, whereas colonization with the normal flora such as the viridians streptococci may prevent otitis episodes by inhibiting the growth of these pathogens” [1]. Taking that into consideration, it is a good idea to stay away from antibiotics for as long as possible in treating children with ear infections.

 From et al reported on the results of a study involving 3,660 children in nine countries. The authors concluded, "Antibiotic treatment did not improve the rate of recovery of patients in this study." In fact, they stated, "Patients who did not take antibiotics had a higher rate of recovery than those who did..." [2]

Viral Upper Respiratory Infection (URI):
o Viral infections can impair auditory canal function by increasing swelling and edema in the tube which can lead to increased pressure and pain.

Smoke exposure:
o Exposing children to second hand smoke increases the susceptibility and duration of ear infections by enhancing colonization, prolonging the inflammatory response and impeding drainage through the auditory canal. [2]

• Change in Eustachian Tube anatomy:
o Children below the age of seven years are much more prone to ear infections since the Eustachian tube is shorter and at more of a horizontal angle than in the adult ear. As we age the auditory canal becomes more vertical and as a result it is less susceptible to fluid accumulation and bacterial colonization.

So you might ask. How can chiropractic care help my sick kid?

• The chiropractic model and philosophy is based on realigning the spine, opening up nerve pathways, restoring muscular tone and increasing nervous system communication to increase overall health. In children with chronic ear infections the lymphatic drainage is significantly reduced in the middle ear. This is due to the fact that the drainage of middle ear runs by way of the cervical lymph system and depends significantly for its flow on adequate muscle activity. When there is a misalignment in one of the vertebrae in the neck, the irritation caused by that problem can be sufficient to cause the neck muscles to develop a state of increased tension or spasm. The resulting muscle contraction, especially in the area of the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM), can be the cause of restricted lymph drainage from the ear. With the disruption in the normal lymphatic activity your body’s immunity is lowered and therefore you are more prone to viral and bacterial invaders. By having the cervical spine adjusted we can open up the lymphatic block and increase the body’s immunity. In addition to adjustments, we also utilize the Erchonia Low level laser to decrease inflammation, reset muscle tone, and boost the body’s immunity.

I hope this article has been informative. If you have any question feel free to send us an email or stop by the office and have your young ones adjusted. Till next time…

Dr. Amir

1. Hay W, Levin M, Sondheimer J, Deterding R. “Current diagnosis and treatment in pediatrics” 8th edition: 459-475
2. Froom J, Culpepper L, Grob P, et al: "Diagnosis and antibiotic treatment of acute otitis media: a report from the International Primary Care Network." BMJ (1990) 300(6724):582.

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