Upper Cervical Care and Ear Infections
One of the hardest things for a parent to witness is seeing their child in pain. There are many reasons a child may experience pain and one common cause that typically results in a visit to the pediatrician’s office is an ear infection.
Ear infections, or Otitis Media, is when an infection develops in the middle part of the ear. There are three parts of the ear. The outer part consists of the external portion, as well as the canal to the eardrum. The middle ear is behind the eardrum where the tiny bones in our ear vibrate noise and transmit sound to the inner ear. The inner ear is where the nerve transmits sound to the brain and helps with one’s sense of balance via the vestibular apparatus. The middle part of the ear is also where the Eustachian tube can be found, which connects to the nose and mouth.
The Eustachian tube is a critical component of the middle ear and oftentimes contributes to the start of an ear infection. This tube can allow viruses or bacteria to migrate, settle in, and grow to cause an infection. There are a couple of reasons this can happen, including a common cold or allergies. With a common cold, a lot of structures in the nose and throat can become inflamed and swollen causing a decrease in drainage of the Eustachian tube, which then creates a breeding ground for bacteria. This same effect can happen when a child has allergies, too. Anytime the nose and throat become inflamed and swollen, the Eustachian tube is more likely to become congested. Another contributing reason that explains why ear infections are more common in children versus adults is the immature nature of a child’s Eustachian tube. As an infant, the Eustachian tube is shorter and lies more horizontal than vertical. As we grow older, the Eustachian tube becomes longer and more vertical. Structurally, an immature Eustachian tube is more prone to bacterial overgrowth since gravity is not able to drain as much fluid. Most parents are given two options to treat their child’s ear infection, which include killing the bacteria that grow in the middle ear or draining the middle ear.
Pediatricians typically prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria contributing to the infection. This is an effective way to eliminate an acute ear infection and also prevent a ruptured eardrum. However, this method of treatment is not effective when ear infections become chronic or are due to viral infections because antibiotics will do little to eliminate the viral threat. In addition, the overuse of prescribed antibiotics has led to “superbugs,” which can cause bacteria to become more resilient and lead to more severe infections that render antibiotics useless. President Obama brought attention to this national healthcare crisis and emphasized the importance of addressing this issue.
If attempting to eliminate the bacteria in chronic ear infections is not effective, pediatricians may suggest another solution to address the lack of drainage in the middle ear. This may include surgically implanting small tubes in the eardrum to help alleviate fluid buildup that allows an infection to manifest. This procedure is done while the child is under general anesthesia and the implanted tubes typically last from six months to one year. Currently, there are varying results regarding the effectiveness of this procedure. For some children, this procedure has been found to be helpful, while other children continue to suffer from recurrent ear infections. Furthermore, there are always risks associated with any surgical procedure involving anesthesia and this should be utilized as an absolute last resort. Antibiotics and tubes are oftentimes the only treatment options given to parents. However, a growing number of parents and pediatricians are learning the benefits that chiropractic care can offer to clear and prevent ear infections.
Ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a chiropractor. There are many case studies that show how chiropractic care can eliminate and prevent ear infections. As mentioned before, there are two components that contribute to ear infections, bacteria/viral growth and/or Eustachian tube blockage. Chiropractic care focuses on making sure the Eustachian tube has proper drainage and, even more importantly, the child has a strong immune system.
The nerves at the base of the brainstem are connected to the muscles that open and close the Eustachian tube. These nerves are located near the upper cervical spine. When the upper cervical spine misaligns, it can irritate these nerves, causing them to not function correctly, and resulting in the Eustachian tubes not draining properly. How does the upper cervical spine become misaligned in the first place?
A good portion of a child’s weight comes from their head, which sits on top of their spine and is held together by muscles that are still developing and strengthening to hold and stabilize the head. With this being said, it is easy to see how a little one’s fall and/or occasional bump on the head can cause a child’s upper cervical spine to be more vulnerable and prone to misalignment. Upper cervical misalignment can also happen at birth.
The birthing process is, for most of us, the most traumatic experience we will ever go through. Today, we are seeing less natural childbirths and an increase in the number of children delivered via cesarean section and/or with the use of forceps and vacuum. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on the baby’s upper cervical spine, as they are being pulled and twisted while entering the world. This is why it is very important for a newborn to have their upper cervical spine checked by a trained upper cervical chiropractor. Upper cervical chiropractors are specifically trained to analyze and correct upper cervical misalignments.
Upper cervical chiropractors take a detailed history and use objective exams and diagnostic studies to determine if a child has a misalignment in their upper cervical spine. If it is determined there is a misalignment, the doctor will use a combination of exam findings, as well as a very precise, low force to make a specific correction with his or her hands. Once the correction is made, the goal is to have the correction hold. This timeline varies from patient to patient depending on their history and exam findings. Once the correction begins to hold, the nerves and tissue around the brain stem will begin to heal and become less irritated. This will allow the nerves to begin to function properly, leading to optimal draining of the Eustachian tube and eliminating the buildup of fluid and bacteria. In addition, a lot of parents notice their children become ill less often while under upper cervical care. As the nervous system remains healthy with no irritation from an upper cervical misalignment, the immune system will function better as well. Every organ, cell, and tissue is controlled by the nervous system and this includes the immune system.
If you are a parent that wants a natural alternative to correcting the cause of your child’s ear infection(s), please contact Straz Spinal Care at 314-332-1871. Upper Cervical care is unbelievably safe and noninvasive. It gets to the cause of your child’s recurrent ear infections, instead of attempting to treat the symptoms.