Infant ear infections are awful. They can be painful for your infant and often require antibiotics to treat. Sometimes, they can reoccur and become persistent. This article is about using a chiropractor for ear infections in infants.
My daughter experienced two back to back ear infections when she was approximately eight to nine months old. For the first infection, we went to her pediatrician, who treated it with antibiotics. It cleared pretty quickly.
The second one happened a couple of weeks after the first and took much longer to heal. Antibiotics didn’t seem to work as well this time, even though she was put on a different type.
Ear infections are so uncomfortable for children. As a mom, I did feel helpless during this time. Over the counter pain medication helps, but it wears off and the discomfort comes back.
In desperation and after doing research, I called my chiropractor. She specializes in chiropractic treatment for pregnancy and infants and was able to see us the same day.
This article is about how we used a chiropractor for my infant’s ear infection with success.
Causes of infant ear infection
Infant ear infections are primarily caused by bacteria. They mostly occur after a child has a sore throat, a cold, or an upper respiratory infection. Bacterial or viral infections cause inflammation in the ear, which then prevents proper ear drainage.
Infants get ear infections more often than adults because their ear canals are still developing. In addition, their immune systems aren’t as strong and can’t fight off an infection effectively.
When my daughter got her first ear infection, it was the middle of December. It was full blown cold season and she was attending daycare full-time. She was getting sick every three to four weeks.
In addition, she was in swimming lessons and getting water in her ears. I didn’t know if that was a contributor. So, we stopped going to lessons completely.
General treatment for infant ear infection
Most pediatricians prescribe an antibiotic, like amoxicillin, to be taken over seven to ten days. They also recommend over-the-counter infant pain relievers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Although antibiotics do work, long-term use is not recommended. I also found that antibiotics aren’t as effective for a second ear infection in close succession.
Using a chiropractor for ear infections
In general, chiropractors treat misalignment in the spine, which can affect a host of other bodily functions, including the nervous system.
“Chiropractic adjustments reduce joint restrictions or misalignments in the spine and other joints in the body in an effort to reduce inflammation and improve function of both the affected joint and nervous system.”https://www.thejoint.com/chiropractic-and-ear-infections
With improved nervous system functioning, the body can better protect tissues from outside environmental factors and decrease inflammation. With decreased inflammation, there is less chance for a blockage in the ear canal.
There have been a few studies on the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment on ear infections in children.
In a medical study conducted in Minneapolis, forty six children under the age of 5 received chiropractic treatment for ear infections. The results indicated that 93% of all episodes improved. Of those, 75% improved in 10 days or fewer and 43% with only one or two treatments.1
The study concluded that adding chiropractic care to ear infection treatment may decrease symptoms of ear infection in young children.
Finding a chiropractor for infant ear infections
Research is key when looking for a chiropractor for your infant. Not all chiropractors specialize in infant treatment.
Ask questions. Where did the practitioner go to school? How long have they been practicing? Read the practitioner’s website and find reviews on Yelp or Google. If possible, speak with other parents who use the chiropractor for their infants.
We were lucky because I already had a relationship with my infant’s chiropractor. I received treatments as a climber and runner. She also helped me tremendously with back pain during my pregnancy.
I trusted her knowledge and expertise. I also knew she specializes in pregnant women and infants.
In addition, we used this chiropractor to treat my daughter’s infant reflux between two to four months old. So, I had no hesitancy in visiting her for treatment again.
My daughter’s second ear infection did not go away after the first round of antibiotics. I was devastated because we did the treatment for ten full days.
Her pediatrician’s recommendation was to treat with an additional ten days of a different type of antibiotic. We did follow this treatment plan, but also started chiropractic therapy.
My chiropractor did five sessions with my infant over a course of two weeks. My daughter had some misalignment and there was improvement after each session. The adjustments do not hurt infants. And they last less than ten minutes.
The reason you want to do more than one session in a shorter period of time is that the body tends to readjust itself slowly to its original position. Also, each session builds upon the last and allows for more effective therapy.
My daughter’s ear infection eventually healed after 22 days. I can’t say whether it was the antibiotics, the chiropractic therapy, or both.
Since that round of chiropractic treatment, my daughter has not been back to the chiropractor. But, at the time of this writing, which is almost a year later, she has not had one ear infection.
For me, that is a huge success. She has been sick a few times since then, but no ear infections!
In my mommy heart and intuition, I do believe that the chiropractic treatments helped her heal. I also think they aided in preventing further ear infections.
Ear infection prevention
It turns out there are some ways to prevent infant ear infections. My main concern after this experience was that she would continue to get them.
If your child gets a number of ear infections within a certain span of time, they become eligible for ear tubes to aid with drainage. That does require surgery.
To be honest, I was worried about the possibility of ear tubes. I have a friend who went through that whole process with her son and it can be challenging.
Here are some tips to lower the risk of infant ear infections:
- Do not let your infant fall asleep with a bottle.
- Wash hands frequently to stop the spread of germs and illnesses.
- Limit exposure to other sick children.
- Limit exposure to cigarette smoke.
- Avoid putting foreign objects in the ear.
- Breastfeed your infant as long as possible.
- Vaccinate against the flu if your infant is old enough.
Final thoughts on using a chiropractor for ear infections
Hopefully our experience helps other parents. When my daughter was going through this, I searched the internet and found very few personal stories on this topic.
- Froehle RM. Ear infection: a retrospective study examining improvement from chiropractic care and analyzing for influencing factors. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1996 Mar-Apr; 19(3): 169-77. PMID: 8728460.