How Does Chiropractic Help Ear Infections?

How Does Chiropractic Help Ear Infections?

There are several adjustment options a chiropractor can use to bring balance back to a child or adult’s neck and middle ear. This will promote better fluid drainage from the ears.

It’s noteworthy that children are much more susceptible to ear infections than adults. In fact, there is evidence from the NIH that suggests 80% of all children will get at least one serious ear infection by the age of 3 years old. That’s a big number.

Regardless of the age of an individual, there are several ways to resolve ear infections. Of course, some options are more invasive than others.

The first instinct people might have when they or their child gets an ear infection is to visit a medical doctor. While there is nothing wrong with doing so, doctors tend to rely too heavily on invasive treatments such as prescribing medicine. For adults, that’s fine. For children, there are risks associated with exposure to too much medicine.

It’s a seemingly well-guarded secret that chiropractors can actually help resolve ear infection issues. The adjustment methods they use are far less invasive, making them suitable for children.

What is an Ear Infections?

An ear infection is largely due to inflammation of the middle ear. In most cases, it occurs when too much fluid builds up in the area behind the eardrum. For what it’s worth, The scientific name given to ear infections is otitis media (OM).

Different Types of Ear Infections

Prior to starting a chiropractic care program for an ear infection, it’s necessary for the chiropractor to know what type of ear infection with which they are dealing. They need this information to ensure they select the treatments that are most likely going to deliver the best results.

Here are the three most common types of ear infections.

Acute Otitis Media (Middle Ear)

When an earache is caused by fluid trapped behind the eardrum and inflammation of parts of the middle ear, the proper diagnosis would be Acute Otitis Media. This can result in pain and fever in children.

Otitis Media with Effusion

The diagnosis of Otitis Media with Effusion (OME) refers to water trapped behind the eardrum without any evidence of inflammation. This type of ear infection usually comes after an ear infection has seemingly run its course. It’s noteworthy that a child with OME will not necessarily show any signs of the infection.

Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media

When a child is suffering from chronic inflammation of parts of the middle ear and mastoid cavity, the proper diagnosis would be Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media. The standard for pegging the condition as chronic can range from two (2) weeks to six (6) weeks, depending on which reference materials are being used.

What are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection?

While the symptoms of an ear infection may vary slightly depending on the type of ear infection, there are plenty of symptoms that are considered standard. Note: The symptoms are pretty much the same for children and adults. The most notable symptoms include (these symptoms apply mostly to children):

  • Sudden moods changes
  • Child might show signs of fussiness with a lot of crying
  • Tugging on the infected ear
  • hearing loss related to low-frequency sounds
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Pus and drainage coming from the infected ear
  • Low-level of pain in the infected ear
  • Fever – mostly for infants and younger children
  • Complaining of pressure inside the ear
  • Loss of balance and signs of clumsiness

What are the Most Common Causes of an Ear Infection?

Most ear infections, especially in younger children, will start as a respiratory condition. In kids, respiratory conditions are usually caused by colds, exposure to smog, allergies, reactions to too much cigarette/cigar smoking, and the buildup of excess mucus in the nostril.

These issues cause fluid to start building up in the middle ear. Once too much fluid has accumulated, it blocks bacteria inside the ear. It’s the bacteria that causes the ear to get infected.

Note: While it’s far less common, viruses can also cause ear infections. In this case, the infection is generally considered a secondary infection.

A description of the Risk Factors for Ear Infections?

Most of the risk factors associated with ear infections are related to environmental issues. The list of risk factors includes

  • Living in an environment where the weather goes through constant changes
  • Living in areas with lots of air pollution
  • Sudden changes in altitude – going from a high-altitude area to a low-altitude area
  • Over-exposure to cigarette or cigar smoke
  • Overuse of a pacifier for infants and babies
  • Classroom exposure to other sick children
  • Age plays a role – ear infections are common for ages 6 months to 3 years old
  • More common during fall and winter

How Do Medical Professionals Diagnose and Treat Ear infections?

Ear infections will often heal on their own without any kind of intervention. That’s fine for adults, but there are some risks for small children that make it necessary for ear infection treatment to be sought sooner rather than later. As you might expect, the longer an ear infection is left untreated, the more likely it is that the adult or child could experience a significant health issue.

Most parents will react to the possibility of an ear infection by taking their child to a pediatrician. The pediatrician will usually start the diagnosing process by asking how the child’s health has been in recent days. Based on that information and the child’s disposition, the pediatrician has a couple of different ways they can confirm an ear infection diagnosis.

They might start the process by using an otoscope. This is a lighted instrument that the pediatrician can use to look inside the ear to the eardrum. If they see red swelling of the eardrum, they can confirm the condition.

Some pediatricians might prefer to use a pneumatic otoscope. This is a medical instrument that releases a puff of air into the ear channel. They will be looking at how easily the eardrum moves back and forth. If there is fluid behind the eardrum, the reaction will be negligible.

Finally, a tympanometry is yet another instrument that pediatricians can use to test for ear infections. The instrument looks like an ear plug. The doctor will insert it into the ear and activate an embedded microphone, which will release sound. After releasing the sound, the pediatrician can measure the eardrum’s reaction to the sound. A little to no reaction is a sign of an ear infection.

As for the treatment of ear infections, there are several treatment protocols that could be put into play. If the pediatrician decides to treat the condition themselves, they will likely prescribe an antibiotic to battle the infection. They might also prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers (ibuprofen or acetaminophen) to help manage pain and fever. Then, it’s simply a matter of monitoring the healing process over several days at a time.

There is another option, an option some doctors are more than willing to recommend. That option would be a visit to a reputable chiropractor.

How Chiropractic Care Helps Treat Ear Infections?

Your first instinct might be to wonder how in the world a chiropractor is going to be able to help treat an ear infection. Before you start thinking it’s not possible, you should know chiropractors do have methods for treating ear infections. In fact, they can offer several non-invasive treatment options that would allow you or your child to avoid medications. Too much exposure to medicine is never a good thing for infants, babies, and small children.

While a chiropractor might choose one of several adjustment options to treat an ear infection, there are two options that a more common and often successful. First, they might do an adjustment to the occiput and C1 neck vertebrae. The occiput meets with the C! at the base of the head to form a joint. Adjusting this join can help bring the eustachian tube into proper alignment. That will allow the ear to start draining more freely.

The other commonly used adjustment option is referred to as the “Chiropractic ear pull.” Yes, a chiropractor can be trained to pull on the outer ear in such a way as to affect the middle ear. With the right pressure, it’s possible for them to bring the eustachian tube back into proper alignment. Again, that should help with drainage problems.

Can a Chiropractor Help Unblock Stuffy Ears?

Yes, they can. In fact, a chiropractor actually has four adjustment options they can employ to help unblock stuffy ears. The available adjustment options include:

Standard Spinal Adjustments – applying gentle pressure on the upper portion of the spine to facilitate restoring proper function of the nerves in the upper vertebrae. This helps relieve pressure on the eustachian tube.

The Muncie Technique – manual pressure applied inside the mouth near the auditory tube to effectively reduce swelling in throat muscles and facia.

Manual Ear Adjustment – manipulation of the outer ear until there is a pop, which represents the release of pressure inside the middle ear.

The Cranial Sacral Technique – manual manipulation of the bones and muscles surrounding the sinuses to promote better sinus drainage.

What is a stuffy ear?

When the sinuses become too stuffed with fluid, they can put pressure on the eustachian tube and eardrum. This causes a lot of ear infections because a clogged eustachian tube won’t drain properly, creating a breeding ground for bacteria to grow.

Symptoms and causes of ear congestion

The symptoms of a stuffy or clogged ear include:

  • Neck, facial, and sinus pain
  • Earaches
  • Dizziness and balance issues
  • Ringing ears
  • Hearing loss
  • Swollen nodes

The causes of a stuffy or clogged ear include:

  • Ear or sinus infection
  • Flu viruses
  • Common cold
  • Sinus inflammation
  • Changes in atmospheric pressure
  • Water in the ear from swimming

Why use a chiropractor for stuffy ears?

It’s well-documented that chiropractors are very successful in the treatment of stuffy ears. Seeing a chiropractor for this condition offers a non-invasive treatment option that comes with little to no risk.

How does a chiropractor treat congested ears?

As stated above, a trained chiropractor can employ at least four different adjustments to treat congested ears. That includes:

  • Standard Spinal Adjustments
  • The Muncie Technique
  • Manual Ear Adjustment
  • The Cranial Sacral Technique

Discussion of the Chiropractic Approach to Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media)

When asked to treat a patient for a middle ear infection, chiropractors have one primary target. They use a variety of adjustment techniques that are designed to bring the neck and facial bones back into proper alignment. Doing so prompts better drainage of the fluids that lead to ear infections.


Will otitis media with effusion go away?

It can go away over time. However, symptoms are not always apparent. Therefore, the condition can go on undetected for a long time.

What are the symptoms of otitis media with effusion?

Fluid trapped behind the eardrum.

How long does otitis media with effusion last in adults?

Again, it’s a condition that could exist without obvious symptoms. Untreated, otitis media with effusion could last for several weeks.

What causes otitis media with effusion in adults?

For adults, ear infections will usually result from over-exposure to cigarette or cigar smoke, respiratory infections, allergies, and exposure to pollution.

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