Almost half of all children will have at least one middle ear infection before they’re a year old, and two-thirds of them will have had at least one such infection by age 3. The symptoms can include ear pain, fever, and irritability.
Standard treatment for most cases of otitis media is with antibiotics, which can be effective if the culprit is bacterial (antibiotics, of course, do nothing to fight off viruses). But, according to many research studies, antibiotics are often not much more effective than the body’s own immune system. In fact, new research is suggesting that 80% of uncomplicated ear infections will resolve within 4 to 7 days without antibiotics.
But what do you do when your child is in so much pain and you know another round of antibiotics is not the way to go? Chiropractic care has been proven, in some cases, to help the drainage of fluid in the ear canal, relieving the pressure, thereby relieving the pain.
“Chiropractic mobilizes drainage of the ear in children, and if they can continue to drain without a buildup of fluid and subsequent infection, they build up their own antibodies and recover more quickly,” explains Dr. Fallon, a pediatric chiropractor in New York. Dr. Fallon uses primarily upper-cervical manipulation on children with otitis media, focusing particularly on the occiput, or back of the skull, and atlas, or the first vertebra in the neck. “Adjusting the occiput, in particular, will get the middle ear to drain…. for the average child, between six and eight treatments.”
Dr. Fallon, whose research garnered her the acclaim of childrearing magazines like Parenting and Baby Talk, often sees great success when she treats a child for otitis media. “Once they fight it themselves, my kids tend to do very well and stay away from ear infections completely. Unless there are environmental factors like smoking in the house, an abnormally shaped Eustachian tube, or something like that, they do very well,” she says.