Why Would A Child See A Chiropractor?

Would you wait until your child has a cavity or tooth pain to go to the dentist?  You or your child do not have to be in pain to keep the spine healthy. It is much easier to correct poor alignment and posture before chronic bad habits persist.  

Eventually associated damage with imbalances and poor posture become irreversible.  Poor mobility, function and pain can result. As the twig is bent, the tree grows:

Bent tree represents what happens to a human child's body without chiropractic

Thanks to Dr Glenn Maginness for his insight on this topic.  He teaches this module on the management of common childhood disorders, which is a valuable resource for learning about how chiropractic care can help children. There are many conditions a child may present to a chiropractor including:

  • Headaches
  • Spinal pain
  • Joint pain
  • Childhood fever
  • Otitis media
  • Irritable baby syndrome
  • Bedwetting
  • Deformational plagiocephaly
  • Dysfunctional nursing
  • Neuro-behavioural disorders
  • Vestibular system dysfunction
  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction

I will focus only on ear infections today.

Ear Infections in Children

Baby girl suffers from ear infections in Guelph, OntarioAccording to the New England Journal of Medicine, viruses most commonly cause acute middle ear infections or acute otitis media (AOM).  Up to 90% of children treated for ear infections receive a prescription for antibiotics, yet antibiotics will only treat a bacterial infection.

There are definite risks associated with the use of antibiotics.  Martin Blaser’s recent 2011 article published in Nature highlights the potentially dangerous long-term consequences that arise from the rampant overuse of antibiotics.  AOM is the most common reason children take antibiotics.

As we learn more about the very significant role of gut bacteria and immune function, it is important to realize that every dose of antibiotic may pose a risk in the future health of that child.  See this article on “The high price of antibiotic use” for more information on the subject!

How Can Chiropractic Care Help With Ear Infections?

Chiropractic care can help in two main ways:

  1. Improving the overall immune system of the child
  2. Promoting improved drainage of the inner ear (Eustachian tube)

Childbirth (especially delivery), tumbles, and falls are well-known causes of spinal or cranial dysfunction/misalignment (subluxation).  This can affect the normal nerve function of that child.

The purpose of a chiropractic adjustment is to help restore the normal function of the nervous system so that the immune system may work at optimal capacity.

The nervous system controls and coordinates all function and healing in the body.  The positive effects of the adjustment may also include improved drainage, as spinal or cranial dysfunction can affect the function of the tensor veli palatine, which plays an important role in the dilation mechanism of the inner ear.  

If the functioning of the muscle is improved, drainage can be improved.  Lymphatic flow may also play a role in the ability of the Eustachian tube to drain effectively.  One of the key components of spinal or cranial dysfunction/misalignment (subluxation) is restriction in movement.  Lymphatic flow is directly dependent on movement.  Restriction may result in lymphatic congestion.

In addition to the rational and common sense-based chiropractic management of the child, I would also include the following few tips:

  1. Elevation of child’s head — Pain is most acute when lying down and prevents drainage. Use pillows or elevate the head of the bed.
  2. Natural garlic and mullein ear drops — I use this product (not to be used when a perforated ear drum is suspected).
  3. Breastfeeding — Mom eating a healthy diet can improve the benefits of breastfeeding. Mom can also try to restrict allergens for 4 months.
  4. Ear infections and diet are correlated —  Eliminate food allergens, such as milk, wheat, or eggs, which have be correlated with ear infections.
  5. Probiotics — Supplementing with a probiotic will promote healthy gut flora for the child and may help prevent childhood illnesses.

For further nutrition and lifestyle intervention to get to root causes of chronic ear infections, check out these trusted sources:

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