Almost 35 percent of all pediatric visits are for ear problems — about 10 million cases per year involve ear infections (otitis media). Otitis media is caused either by bacteria, or a virus which is often associated with a cold. Many children suffer with ear infections year after year, and many are at grave risk of suffering permanent hearing loss, as well as other developmental problems.
First, let’s start by discussing the anatomy and physiology of the ear. The Eustachian tube is a small tube that connects the middle ear to the throat. It helps drain fluid from the middle ear out to the nasal passage in order to equalize pressure between the ear and the outside environment. If the tube is blocked, fluid builds up and puts pressure on the eardrum. In a child, the Eustachian tube is short, narrow and horizontal, making it easy for fluid and microbes to remain trapped whereas the tube in an adult is wider and angled down to allow gravity to assist in drainage.
Structures surrounding the Eustachian tube include not only bones but muscles which are controlled by cranial and cervical nerves. If an injury occurs to these areas of the body, it may impact the function of the muscles. If the muscles cannot dilate the Eustachian tube properly, this may cause an obstruction and lead to fluid buildup.
This is why chiropractic may be of help because we are focusing on the function of the joints. By improving the mobility and function of joints in the spine, we find reduced muscle tension, inflammation, and improved blood flow which can help improve the function of the middle ear and Eustachian tube.
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.” Dr. Fallon focuses on the upper cervical area on children with Otitis Media, concentrating on the occiput (base of the skull), and upper two vertebrae in the neck, and she states that close to 80 percent of the 332 children in the study did not experience another ear infection within a 6-month period. Pediatrician Dr. William Sears from Capistrano Beach, Calif., even states on his website, “I firmly believe that chiropractic adjustments to the skull and neck can improve middle ear drainage and decrease ear infections.”
At Natural Spine Solutions, Dr. Fichter has over 18 years experience working with children and uses gentle techniques specifically designed for the pediatric patient and these techniques have been proven safe and effective. It is our utmost concern when helping a child, to guide both the child and parents through the process so that they are comfortable with any care that is provided. Give Dr. Fichter a call if you would like to schedule a consultation.
Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene. Call for more information, (208) 966-4425.