On January 14, 2019, the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health published a case study documenting the resolution of chronic bilateral ear infections in a toddler through chiropractic care. The technical name for ear infections is otitis media.
The study begins by reporting on how common otitis media is. It is estimated that by three years of age, 80% of children will have experienced at least one episode of otitis media. By the age of five years, it is estimated that 40% of children will have had multiple episodes of the condition.
Some of the more common symptoms of otitis media include ear pain, fever, headache, irritability, and listlessness. If left unaddressed, the problem could lead to hearing impairment, a loss of sleep, and a decrease in the overall quality of life not only for the child but also the parents.
Although antibiotic treatment has been a medical main-stay of treatment. Recent concerns for overuse of antibiotics resulting in resistant strain of bacteria have led to more physicians taking a "wait and see" approach to ear infections. All of these factors have driven many parents to seek alternative care approaches for their children, of which chiropractic is the most popular practitioner-based approach.
In this case, a one-year-old girl was brought to the chiropractor by her parents for an evaluation and possible care. The infant's primary problem was she was suffering from reoccurring ear infections. It was reported that over the previous five months, the girl had suffered from 4 bouts of bilateral ear infections. Each time, she had been diagnosed with otitis media and placed on antibiotics. Each time, the ear infection would seem to subside and her symptoms reduce, only to return again a month later after the antibiotic treatment was concluded.
The girl's ear infections were affecting her ability to sleep and causing her to be agitated. In addition to the ear infections, it was noted that the infant girl also suffered from frequent colds, sinus congestion, and food allergies.
A chiropractic examination of the infant led to the conclusion that subluxations were present in the child’s spine, especially in the upper neck area. With agreement from the parents, specific age-appropriate chiropractic adjustments were started to address the infant’s subluxations. The girl received a total of 9 adjustments over the initial 6-week period. After the initial care, the child was seen on a less frequent basis.
After six months of care, a follow-up assessment was performed to monitor the progress. At that time, the parents reported that their baby girl had not had an ear infection or symptoms of an ear infection since she began chiropractic care.
In their discussion and conclusion, the authors of this study stress the importance that chiropractic care could play in this health issue. "Acute OM is such a common condition that it is considered one of the leading causes of visits to medical clinics and for prescription antibiotics. Despite differences in research design and disease definitions, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 28 thousand deaths yearly is attributable to complications (i.e., death through meningitis and brain abscess) of OM." They concluded, "This case report adds to the growing literature on the effectiveness of subluxation-based chiropractic care in children presenting with a history of medically diagnosed OM."