If your child has an earache, appears to have ear pain, or has a history of ear infections, make plans to visit a chiropractor. Doctors of chiropractic medicine are uniquely qualified to treat ear problems in youngsters. Not only can a chiropractor help relieve pain but can help keep a simple infection from causing long-term problems like hearing loss. About 75 percent of all children have at least one ear infection before reaching their first birthday.
When children have pain in one or both ears, they’re usually experiencing either a chronic or acute ear infection. Acute ear problems typically last just a short while and then clear up without any treatment at all, much like a mild head cold. But chronic infections usually cause more pain, last longer, lead to a larger volume of built-up fluid in the middle ear, and must be treated by a licensed healthcare professional for proper healing. Chiropractors can tell the difference between the two, take the proper course of action, and send the patient home with less pain, no fluid buildup, and a self-treatment plan (administered by a parent) that will keep the infection at bay and contribute to the healing process.
What causes ear infections, and how can a chiropractor help your child get relief? Here are some of the basic facts about this important topic that every parent should know.
What Causes Ear Infections In Children?
Two main factors come into play when discussing ear infections and children. First, little ones have much smaller Eustachian tubes than teens or adults. Why is this important? Because the tube is the only way for fluid to drain out of the ear. When it becomes blocked in any way, as is can be by mucus, an infection can develop rather quickly.
In kids, the tube is very narrow, which means youngster are already at risk of more frequent blockage, infections, and ear aches. Second, children don’t have fully developed immune systems. This is especially true for infants and toddlers. So, when bacteria builds up in the middle ear, it’s more apt to cause an earache or infection than it would in an adult.
But, there’s even more to the question than tube size and immune systems. Ear infections in youngsters are also brought on by the presence of tobacco smoke, various allergies, ordinary colds, and playing in unsanitary locations, like on dirty floors or near pet bedding.
It’s essential for parents to understand that ear aches are quite common in children. The most common symptoms of ear infections in toddlers and infants are ear pain and the inability to sleep. In all, there are several factors that can either directly cause or contribute to ear infections in kids. Here’s a short list:
- Colds: Children get more colds than adults do. It’s common for little ones to notice ear pain during or immediately after having a cold. Often, this pain is evidence of an ear infection.
- The presence of tobacco smoke: When kids are exposed to tobacco smoke, the contaminants in the smoke often irritate their Eustachian tubes and other parts of their ears. It’s highly advisable for parents to stop smoking in order to minimize the chances of their children getting ear infections. It”s also wise to quit smoking for one’s own long-term health, in any case.
- Playing near pet bedding or in unsanitary, dirty places: Pet bedding and dirty play places can lead to a higher incidence of childhood ailments of all kinds, including those related to the ear.
- Allergies: Kids who already have allergies tend to have more ear infections. Parents should keep a close eye on kids to see if any symptoms of ear problems are present.
- Blocked Eustachian tubes: Children’s Eustachian tubes are much narrower than those in adults, which makes them more susceptible to blockage and infection.
- Poorly developed immune system: Young children don’t have very strong immune systems because they haven’t been exposed to as many disease-causing microbes as adults have.
How Chiropractors Help Children With Ear Infections
A chiropractor can judge whether it’s best to let the infection run its course or work to relieve pain and drain existing fluid immediately. When a parent brings a child with an ear infection to a chiropractor’s office, the doctor first examines the little one to see what type of infection is causing the problem. There are several kinds of ear problems, most of which clear up on their own. However, a more pernicious version, a chronic infection, tends to return, doesn’t clear up so quickly, and can cause long-term damage to the ear drum and other parts of a youngster’s ear.
Once diagnosed, the child’s condition will be treated by the doctor in the most appropriate way. For the most common versions of the ailment, a chiropractic physician will perform a maneuver called an “ear adjustment,” which is a mild movement of the ear. The doctor gently tugs on the patient’s ear in a very specific way. This allows the excess fluids that have built up behind the ear drum to disperse and drain out.
Almost immediately, the pain subsides. The infection remains for a few days before clearing up, but it’s important for the child to get enough rest, stay away from unsanitary places, and eat nutritious foods. In most case, kids don’t have any trouble with the infection after the chiropractor performs the adjustment.
Sometimes, there is little pain and even less fluid buildup. That’s often an ideal opportunity to take no action at all and just let the body heal itself. Too often, some medical professionals prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection. The problem with that approach is that drugs frequently have adverse side-effects. And in cases of minor ear infections, there’s typically no need to use a drug when the human body can eliminate the infection all by itself.
Chiropractors are careful to treat balance problems that so often accompany ear infections. The human body’s balance center is located inside the ear, which means any kind of illness that affects ears can wreak havoc on a person’s ability to walk upright or even stand without falling. An ear adjustment performed by a licensed chiropractic physician can help restore balance by draining excess fluid and helping the working parts of the ear return to normal.
Approaches for dealing with ear infections in kids:
- Do nothing. Wait for the infection to clear up on its own, which usually takes about 10 days
- Don’t use antibiotics. They can make the problem worse and won’t relieve pain or built-up fluid
- Have an ear adjustment to drain fluid and restore balance
- Treat chronic infections immediately
- Make sure the youngster doesn’t have balance problems as a result of the infection
Getting Help For Your Child’s Ear Problems
As is the case with many kinds of infections and pains, it makes sense to get professional medical assistance and advice as quickly as possible. And when it comes to children with sore or infected ears, seeing a chiropractor at the first sign of trouble is the smartest move you can make.
At Delaware Integrative Healthcare, we know how important your child’s health is to you. That’s why we take special care when working with young children who are often already in pain and don’t understand why. Infants and toddlers only know that their ears hurt and they want the pain to stop. When you visit one of our two offices, our chiropractic physicians will check your child’s ear and diagnose the problem as soon as you arrive. Then, they’ll decide on a course of action to relieve the pain and drain excess fluid from the ear.
If you notice your child tugging at his or her ear, appearing to be in pain by trying to rub their ear or side of their head, or having trouble sleeping because of possible ear pain, call one of Delaware Integrative Healthcare offices and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Our Middletown number is 302-376-5830. The Dover location can be reached at 302-744-8650. We look forward to hearing from you. There’s no reason to let your child’s ear pain get worse. Feel free to contact us today.