80% of children have at least one episode of ear infections (otitis media) by the time they are 3 years of age.1 While ear infections are common, they are not normal to have. Ear infections are a result of a malfunction of the eustachian tube, which is a canal that links the middle ear to the throat area. The eustachian tube’s job is to equalize pressure in the canal to avoid buildup of fluid. When the tube is not properly functioning, fluid cannot drain from the middle ear and creates an environment for bacteria and viruses to grow.
Chiropractic care is believed to be an alternative management strategy for acute otitis media. Nerve compromise of the trigeminal nerve (CN V) influences the muscle that controls the diameter of the eustachian tube and can cause the tube to constrict. Constriction stops fluid from draining, making the ear susceptible for infection. With chiropractic care, our goal is to restore the biomechanical dysfunction and allow for the tube to dilate and constrict properly.
There are many causes of acute otitis media not all of which are related to nerve irritation or interference. Otitis media should be co-managed with your primary care physician to insure proper management.
1. Tos M. Epidemiology and natural history of secretory otitis. Am J Otol. 1984;5(6):459–462.
2. Mills MV, Henley CE, et.al. The use of osteopathic manipulative treatment as adjuvant therapy in children with recurrent acute otitis media. Archives of Pediatric 2003;157(99):861-66.