Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear, usually secondary to an upper respiratory infection (URI). It can occur at any age but is most prevalent during the ages of 3 months to 3 years. The most common symptom is severe, persistent earache. Additional signs and symptoms include fever (up to 105-F), nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea - especially in young children. Symptoms of a headache, sudden profound hearing loss, dizziness, chills, and fever can indicate serious complications and should receive an immediate evaluation. While the medical approach to otitis media consists of antibiotics, many antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective. Furthermore, studies have shown children given antibiotics to treat otitis media increase their odds of having recurrent infections.
Published case studies involving chiropractic treatment of otitis media in children has shown substantial benefits. In one such study, 5 children (5 years and younger) who were under the regular pediatric care and who had otitis media for 6 months without resolution were given chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic treatment consisted of gentle cervical spinal adjustments and lymphatic massage. Otitis media resolved in all 5 children - 3 days, 4 days, 8 days, 3 weeks, and 8 weeks. The Resolution was determined by otoscopic examination and reduction of fever. None of the children required more than 5 chiropractic treatments in order to achieve resolution.
Fixations and misalignments in the cervical region can cause muscular spasms as well as a neurological compromise which are thought to prevent proper drainage of the middle ear. When the middle ear is unable to drain, bacteria can pool and multiply resulting in acute and chronic middle ear infections. By treating the cervical spine and assisting in middle ear drainage, a majority of otitis media cases can be safely and quickly treated.
- The Merck Manual. 16th ed. 1992.
- Fysh PN. Chronic Recurrent Otitis Media: Case Series of Five Patients with Recommendations for Case Management. J Clin Chiro Ped 1996;2:66-78.