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Chiropractic Treatment for Ear Infections in Children

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Chantilly Chiropractic Center

Five out of six children will have at least one ear infection by their 3rd birthday.

In fact, ear infections are the most common reason parents bring their child to a doctor, accounting for more than 35% of all pediatrician visits in the United States. Antibiotics are the usual treatment, but are they the safest and most effective?

More and more parents are beginning to look to chiropractors to complement their children’s health care.

For more than 100 years, chiropractors have been treating infants and toddlers for various ailments, including ear infections. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics indicates that there is a strong correlation between chiropractic adjustments and the resolution of ear infections. In the study, 332 children with chronic ear infections participated. Each child, ranging in age from 27 days to 5 years, was given a series of chiropractic adjustments. The results showed that close to 80% of the children did not experience another ear infection within the 6-month period, which included maintenance treatments every 4 to 6 weeks, following their initial visits.

Ear Infections: Why Do They Occur?
There are several reasons why infants and toddlers get ear infections. Here are the most common reasons:

Low Immune System
Babies and toddlers have immune systems that are still developing, which makes them more prone to illness, including ear infections.

Eustachian Tube Development
From birth to age 8, the Eustachian tubes (located behind our ear drums and linked to our nasal cavity) are more horizontal rather than vertical (as seen in adults). This horizontal structure makes it more difficult to drain fluid that builds up in this area of the ear and tends to be a major cause of pediatric ear infections.

Allergies in a toddler can significantly lower their immune system and lead to upper respiratory issues, which are closely linked to ear infections.

Traumatic Birth
Traumatic births that involve breech babies, C-section deliveries, and/or forceps delivery can greatly influence the upper cervical region of an infant. The upper cervical dysfunction directly links to the proper functioning of the structures of the inner ear.

Ear Tubes
Infant and toddler ear tubes are a common but not always successful method for treating chronic ear infections. Ear tubes can not only harm the structures of the ear and cause more infections but can also cause permanent hearing loss if complications occur.

Asthma/Upper Respiratory Issues
If the upper respiratory infection is bacterial, these same bacteria may spread to the middle ear. If the upper respiratory infection is caused by a virus, such as a cold, bacteria may be drawn to the microbe-friendly environment and move into the middle ear as a secondary infection.

Falls, blows to the head, sports injuries, and even listening to loud music can cause structural ear damage, making it difficult for the ear to drain fluid.

Second-Hand Smoke
In a study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Research Institute, children who live in homes where parents or others smoke have a higher risk of developing middle ear infections than children who live in smoke-free homes. Smoke from cigarettes combined with exhaled smoke has been shown to increase unhealthy particles in the air, including those of nicotine and other toxins that can cause respiratory issues leading to lower immune systems and ear infections.

Ear Infections & Pediatric Chiropractic Adjustments
Children as young as newborn infants can, and should, be treated with chiropractic care. Pediatric chiropractic care is vastly different than adult care. Pediatric adjustments are gentle (as much pressure as if you push on an extremely ripe tomato) and precise. When treating ear infections, pediatric chiropractors take a full history, do a thorough examination, and perform specific, gentle chiropractic adjustments to the cervical region.

The basic chiropractic approach, as it relates to treating ear infections, can be summarized as follows:

The muscles surrounding the Eustachian tube are influenced by cervical neurology (nerves from the neck region).

Dysfunction at the cervical level can cause hypertonicity of those muscles (i.e. spastic, tight muscles that are over stimulated). In turn, this can affect the size of the Eustachian tube and prevent proper drainage.

Gentle adjustments in the cervical region can cause a relaxation of the musculature and allow the ears to drain naturally. According to Dr. Joan Fallon, author of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, “Chiropractic mobilizes drainage of the ear in children, and if they can drain without a buildup of fluid and subsequent infection, they build their own antibodies and recover faster.”

Natural alternatives in treating childhood ear infections are increasing in popularity due to the negative response of antibiotics and painful ear tubes. Additionally, there is significant research on the effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments in treating pediatric ear infections. Thus, more parents are opting for chiropractic adjustments as a natural treatment for their child’s ear infections. These safe and gentle chiropractic treatments can reduce muscle tension, decrease inflammation, increase mobility, and establish proper blood flow and lymphatic drainage, all of which can affect the function of the middle ear and Eustachian tube.

If you have any further questions about chiropractic care and ear infections, please call our office at (703) 378-2698 and ask to speak to Dr. Wellner. You can also reach her via email at [email protected]

Dr. Wellner, Chantilly Chiropractic CenterDr. Wellner, a Chiropractor at Chantilly Chiropractic Center, received her Doctorate of Chiropractic Degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic and is the recipient of the James Buerkle Memorial Award for leadership, service, and commitment to Palmer College and the chiropractic profession. As a physician, she strongly believes in patient education and empowering patients and their families to improve the quality of their lives through a multidisciplinary approach. Dr. Wellner works with local OBGYN offices, general practitioners, orthopedic doctors, neurologists, personal trainers, and other healthcare professionals to administer optimal care to her patients.

For her pediatric patients, Dr. Wellner believes in allowing a child’s natural healing abilities to shine through by using a combination of gentle spinal adjustments and nutritional/lifestyle recommendations. In her quest to educate others about the role of chiropractic in children’s health care, Dr. Wellner hosts classes and lectures in Northern Virginia about the importance of a healthy lifestyle for expectant mothers, babies, and families. Dr. Wellner is also a member of the Unified Virginia Chiropractic Association, American Chiropractic Association, Dulles Chamber of Commerce and an active member of the Dulles Chamber Health and Wellness Committee as well as the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Christina Wellner, please call (703) 378-2698 or email her at [email protected]. Chantilly Chiropractic Center is located at 3910 Centreville Rd., Ste. 202, Chantilly, VA 20151. Connect: Online | Facebook | (703) 378-2698.


“Ear Infections in Children.” National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 12 May 2017. Web

Fallon JM. The Role of the Chiropractic Adjustment in the Care and Treatment of 332 Children with Otitis Media. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics. 1997; Volume 2, No. 2:167-183.

Pohlman, Katherine A., and Monisa S. Holton-Brown. “Otitis Media and Spinal Manipulative Therapy: A Literature Review.” Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. Elsevier, Sept. 2012. Web.

Froehle, R. M. “Ear Infection: A Retrospective Study Examining Improvement from Chiropractic Care and Analyzing for Influencing Factors.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1996. Web.

“Middle Ear Infections.” KidsHealth. Ed. William J. Parkes. The Nemours Foundation, Apr. 2017. Web.

Orton, Sophie, Laura L. Jones, Sue Cooper, Sarah Lewis, and Tim Coleman. “Predictors of Children’s Secondhand Smoke Exposure at Home: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of the Evidence.” PLoS ONE. Public Library of Science, 2014. Web.

Smoke-free Households with Children and Decreasing Rates of Paediatric Clinical Encounters for Otitis Media in the United States, Hillel R. Alpert, Ilan Behm, Gregory N. Connolly, Zubair Kabir. Tobacco Control (2010). doi:10.1136/tc.2010.038711. Online January 26, 2011.

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