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Treatment of children ear infection

Chiropractic is a rather unknown alternative for the treatment of recurrent ear infections (otitis media). Have you been told that your child needs ear tubes because of recurrent ear infections that may or may not respond to antibiotics? If so, you may want to consider chiropractic before undergoing a surgery that —though relatively safe— always involves an inherent risk as it requires your child to be placed under general anesthesia.

When fluid remains in the ear for long periods or if recurrence of fluid in the ear is an issue, it can be a breeding ground for the bacteria that cause ear infections.  In addition, chronic fluid in the middle ear can affect childrens’ hearing. The theory behind chiropractic treatment for ear infections is that it promotes the drainage of fluid from the middle ear which then alleviates pressure and decreased chances of future ear infections.

Is this treatment safe?

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) states that chiropractic is safe for children and that they can benefit from this type of care (ACA, 2011). The ACA also says that although chiropractic care is “widely recognized as being one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal complaints”, there is a small potential for adverse effects.   

The World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA) supports the notion that chiropractic is a safe treatment option for children.  Furthermore, the WCA says that traditional medical providers and pharmaceutical companies should encourage safe alternative drug-free therapies first rather than going to pharmaceuticals or medical treatments as the initial treatment approach when it comes to the welfare of children. WCA is an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information and publishes the peer-reviewed chiropractic research journal, Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research.

A simple Google search on the risks of chiropractic care in children will provide an extensive list of proponents and skeptics on the effectiveness and risks of pediatric chiropractic care.  So it may be best to do your own research and then decide if this is the right treatment plan for your child’s ear infection.

What do other medical experts say?

  • The highly regarded Dr. Sears states that he is a firm believer that chiropractic adjustments to the skull and neck can improve middle ear drainage and decrease ear infections (Askdrsears.com, 2011).  
  • The Mayo Clinic states that long-term studies have not verified the effectiveness of this alternative treatment approach (The Mayo Clinic, 2011).
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has no formal recommendation for using alternative treatment such as chiropractic to treat otitis media.  This is primarily due to the lack of scientific evidence that documents its effectiveness. 

It is important to stress the fact that large scale rigorous studies on this topic have not been performed.  Therefore, reluctance on the part of credible pediatric associations and practitioners to endorse this procedure is not necessarily based on concerns about child safety, but perhaps more on effectiveness since it has not been studied in-depth.

With that in mind, and given that chiropractic adjustments in general pose very little risk, it might be worth considering this as a treatment option for your child’s ear infection before heading to the operating room.

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