Middle Ear Infections (Otitis Media)

Chiropractic Care for Middle Ear Infection

Otitis media is fluid swelling in the middle section of the ear, just inside the eardrum. 

It is far more common in children than adults because the tube that normally drains and ventilates the middle ear (the Eustachian tube) is shorter, narrower and less steep in children, and therefore more likely to get blocked. If you start to percieve these signs of middle-ear infections chiropratic care could help


Natural history 

 Natural history refers to what will happen if there is no treatment. The natural history is that about 85% will resolve spontaneously after 2 to 7 days. There is no sound evidence that untreated media results in speech/language delays or impediments. 



Use of antibiotics does not have a measurable effect on deafness due to otitis media. 

Use of antibiotics results in antibiotic resistant bacteria, which means that simple infections can become more serious because the infections do not respond to the antibiotics. The more often your child uses antibiotics, the greater the likelihood they will develop an infection with antibiotic resistant bacteria. 

Use of antibiotics destroys the helpful intestinal bacteria which affects digestion, immune function and synthesis of certain vitamins. Your child will become more susceptible to intestinal infection (like parasites and candida) and food allergy due to ‘leaky gut syndrome’.  

Use of antibiotics inhibits immune function, increasing the likelihood of further infections. Antibiotics prevent white blood cell movement to the site of the infection, reduce the ability of white blood cells to attack bacteria and suppress the activity of bacteria killing neutrophils. Antibody production is also decreased for up to 20 days after use. This increases the likelihood of recurrent infection once use of the antibiotics has stopped. 

Certain antibiotics reduce the absorption of nutrients such as Vitamin K, B12, Folic Acid, Calcium and Magnesium. 



In a recent study of 3,660 children with Otitis Media, antibiotic-treated children recovered at a slightly slower rate than children not receiving antibiotics. 

A study of 4,860 children with acute Otitis Media treated with nose drops and pain relievers for four days, revealed that more than 90% recovered within a few days with no further need for treatment. 3% of these children required antibiotics. 


Grommets (Tympanostomy tubes) 

What are the risks? 

61% develop tympanosclerosis or scarring of the drum which will have a permanent effect on hearing. 

40% develop tympanic membrane atrophy. 

11% develop discharge of granulation tissue. 

3% require tympanoplasty (replacement of the membrane by graft). 

4% develop retraction pockets. 

Grommets are usually used to try to help with hearing loss; the question is: does the use of grommets help? 

In otherwise normal children who have middle ear effusion (MEE), during the first 3 years of life, prompt insertion of tympanostomy tubes does not measurably improve developmental outcomes at age 3 years, irrespective of whether MEE has been continuous or discontinuous, unilateral or bilateral, and whether or not MEE has been accompanied by mild to moderate hearing loss.  

No differences were found in expressive or comprehensive language between children 1 to 2 years of age with persistent Otitis Media with effusion, treated with ventilation tubes (grommets) or not treated. 

In otherwise healthy children who have persistent MEE during their first 3 years of life, many resort to tympanostomy tubes resulting in far more tympanic membrane abnormalities at age 5 than does selective management in which most children do not receive the procedure. With these differing approaches, however, hearing levels at age 6 do not differ. 

In otherwise healthy children who have persistent MEE as defined in our study, prompt insertion of tympanostomy tubes does not improve developmental outcomes up to 9 to 11 years of age. 


How does chiropractic treatment help? 

A key cause of poor fluid drainage from the middle ear is dysfunction (subluxation) of the upper cervical spine. Nerves from the upper cervical spine control the function of a muscle called ‘tensor veli palatini’, which has an important impact on the Eustachian tube and its ability to drain fluid from the middle ear.  

Upper cervical spine dysfunction (subluxation) affects the nerves leaving the upper cervical spine which then affects the function of the tenor veli palatini, resulting in fluid accumulation in the middle ear. The fluid which builds up in the middle ear is then ripe for infection to develop. 

German paediatricians, who use chiropractic techniques to treat middle ear problems, implicate dysfunction of the upper cervical spine as the primary cause of middle ear fluid buildup and subsequent infection.  

In addition to correction of dysfunction (subluxation) of the upper cervical spine to normalise fluid drainage from the middle ear, it is important to look at allergies and to provide nutritional support to improve immune function and regulate inflammation. Also use of acidophilus and bifidobacterium cultures aid normalisation of the intestinal tract environment which has been damaged as a result of antibiotic use. 


Typical supplements used to improve immune function 


Vitamin A, C, E with Selenium and Zinc 

Echinacea and Omega 3+6 

Arabinoguard (Metagenics) 

Immune Care for Kids (Metagenics) 

Transferon (Metagenics) 


We may be able to help if your baby or child has… 

 Colic reflux 



Recurrent ear infections 


Breastfeeding problems 


Coordination problems 

Behavioural problems 

Learning difficulties 

Sleep difficulties 

Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (AD/HD) 

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