Pediatric ear infections: not fun for anyone! Between the late nights, crying, aching, and pain, pediatric ear infections can be pretty rough on a household. Yet, pediatric ear infections are incredibly common. Five out of six children have at least one ear infection by the time they reach three years old. Not to mention, many children suffer from recurring ear infections, repeating this cycle up to five or even six times a year.
As a parent, you may feel a bit powerless if you’re watching your child suffer from recurrent ear infections. However, you do have more treatment options than you may realize.
Antibiotics, the most common treatment, aren’t always the best option for children with recurring ear infections; natural, preventative measures may be equally beneficial to your child and help disrupt the infection cycle.
Pediatric Ear Infections 101: What Are They?
Simply put, an ear infection is inflammation in the middle ear. These infections are usually caused by bacteria or a virus and often come at the end of a lingering cold. Inflammation and swelling increase in the eustachian tube behind the eardrum, causing pain and discomfort. Between ear pain, fever, and difficulty sleeping, it’s an agonizing experience that can be difficult to communicate appropriately for babies and young children.
Since young children have smaller and shorter inner ear tubes than adults, they are more prone to ear infections as the tubes become blocked and inflamed more easily.
Why Antibiotics Aren’t Always The Best Treatment
If your child is prone to ear infections, we know that you’ve spent many sleepless nights tending to them. As such, we thoroughly understand the desire to jump at the first available treatment option, which is often a round of antibiotics. However, you may want to think twice before grabbing that prescription.
Though we know that antibiotics have a time and place, the issue with them arises when ear infections become a recurring problem, and they are used as the primary treatment over and over again. Our bodies aren’t meant to take antibiotics regularly, and the benefits diminish over time.
Antibiotics, of course, kill a specific type of bad bacteria that is making us sick. However, taking antibiotics when we don’t really need them or taking them too often can change our internal bacteria so much that we begin to develop bacterial resistance. In other words, when we need antibiotics the most, they will be rendered ineffective.
When the circumstances are more serious, you want your child’s body to be able to respond to antibiotic treatment effectively, so we’d advise you to think twice before choosing the prescription route with every ear infection.
While ear infections seem dire at the onset, the Journal of the American Medical Association cited that 80% of children with ear infections recover within three days without employing prescription antibiotics. That being the case, there are natural routes to explore to alleviate your child’s discomfort with their earache.
Preventing Future Ear Infections
So, what’s an exasperated and tired parent to do? Though it’s not a perfect science, if you know your child is more prone to ear infections, there are several things you can do to help prevent infection proactively.
Limit your child’s exposure to other sick kids. While we know that this can be tough, the more you can protect them from viral and bacterial infection in general, the better. Part of the reason children are so susceptible to repeated ear infections is that their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet.
Wash hands frequently! Washing your child’s hands can cut down on sickness in general, which can be an easy trigger for ear infections.
Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke. If you or your partner smoke, this can provoke ear infections in your child. If you’ve ever thought about quitting, this is an excellent reason to make it stick.
No bottles when lying down. If your child is still using a bottle, avoid putting them down for a nap or to sleep for the night with a bottle. Milk can pool in their throat and enter the eustachian tubes, creating a prime location for bacteria to grow and develop into an infection.
Limit pacifier use. If your child is using a pacifier, you may want to limit its use. The sucking motion has been shown to get in the way of proper Eustachian tube function and trigger infection.
Using Chiropractic Treatment As Proactive Care For Ear Infections
One commonly overlooked natural and preventative treatment option for pediatric ear infections is chiropractic care. Subluxations, or misalignments of the spine, can occur easily during everyday life or even during birth. These misalignments can inflame and irritate nerves connected to the eustachian tube in the ear, causing the fluid buildup that causes the infection and pressure. Gentle chiropractic adjustments realign the body, allowing the nervous system to restore normal function and calm irritation on its own.
The calming nature of these adjustments makes chiropractic a fantastic, conservative option to use as both preventative care and for treatment should your child need it. By addressing misalignments before infection begins, you’re helping to keep your child’s system healthy and less susceptible to infection. These adjustments also help alleviate pressure and realign the body so it can heal from the infection effectively.
If your child is struggling with recurrent ear infections and you’d like to explore all your natural options, it may be valuable to consider chiropractic care. To schedule an initial evaluation, call us today.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.