Earache is the most common reason for office visits to pediatricians. By the age of three years, more than 70 percent of children will have had at least one episode of earache and about a third will have had more than three episodes. It is not surprising, therefore, that earache is also the most common reason for children under the age of five years presenting to the chiropractor's office.
When a child with earache is diagnosed with middle ear infection by the pediatrician, the usual treatment involves a course of antibiotics. New research has determined that this is often misguided. The cause of the child's middle ear infection may not be due to bacteria, and since antibiotics are only effective against bacterial pathogens, frequently there will be no response. Since numerous cases of middle ear infection can be caused by a virus, and viruses do not respond to antibiotics, this may be the reason why children develop chronic ear infections.
The chiropractor's task is to ascertain if the reason for the body's inability to combat the earache/ear infection is caused by irritation of the small nerves in the spine (called free nerve endings).
When these nerve endings are irritated, an abnormal tension is produced in the small muscles of the neck. This muscle tension can place pressure on the lymphatic drainage ducts resulting in inadequate drainage from inside the ear, thus preventing the body from being able to naturally correct the problem.
Identification of such a problem is made by detecting increased tension in the neck and paraspinal muscles, usually more tension is felt on the side of earache. The chiropractor also looks for spinal vertebrae which are either slightly out of alignment or are not moving within their normal range. This problem may have been due to any one of the number of bangs, jolts and falls that most children experience in the early years of their life. Often, a short course of spinal adjustment and manipulation of the neck muscles can help restore normal lymph drainage.