Dreaded Ear Infections...And Some Things You Might Not Know!

Guest Blogger ~ Dr. Dave Hanson

Ear infections are one of my favorite topics to discuss with patients. Not only are they extremely common, chiropractic is such a simple and powerful answer for them! And even though most people wouldn’t normally associate chiropractic with something like ear infections, I find that once I explain to parents what’s really going on, they find it very easy to understand. That’s the purpose of this article – to inform parents what the actual CAUSE of an ear infection is.

Finding The Cause Is Finding The Solution

In 2006, over 9,000,000 kids suffered from an ear infection, 8,000,000 of which were given a prescription antibiotic. This is despite the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending “watchful waiting” for most of these kids. These prescriptions resulted in $2.8 BILLION in medical expenses – over 1/3 of which were paid out-of-pocket. It is the most common reason kids see their pediatrician or go to the ER, and the most common reason antibiotics are prescribed. Common...but not normal. We typically find that our patients who suffer from allergies, sinus congestion or infections, ear congestion or infections, and similar conditions typically have one (or more) of these three underlying problems:

1. Poor Plumbing/Drainage

2. An overactive sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system that lowers immune function

3. Excessive inflammation within the respiratory and/or digestive system

Poor Plumbing/ Drainage

Most people don’t realize there is a small muscle called Tensor Veli Pelatini (TVP) that is responsible for “milking” fluid down the ear canal, similar to the way your esophagus “milks” food down your throat into your stomach. So if this muscle isn’t doing its job, fluid accumulates behind the ear drum which can lead to an infection. So what would cause this muscle not to work? This muscle has attachments to the upper part of your cervical spine (just below your head), and gets its nerve supply from the upper part of your cervical spine as well. So if there is a misalignment or nerve interference in this crucial area the muscle isn’t going to do its job well – or at all! Think back to the birth of your child – were there interventions? Was it a C-section? Did they use forceps or vacuum? Was the labor process very long/stressful or very short (equally problematic)? Nearly every single time a child comes into our office for ear infections we can trace the problem back to undiagnosed birth trauma. It is the #1 reason for congestion in the ENT system. The good news is specific chiropractic adjustments handle this issue safely and effectively!

An Overactive Sympathetic Nervous System

Most people know that the Central Nervous System is the most important system in the body –think of it as the air traffic controller of your body. But most people don’t realize how closely it relates to your spine. Your spine is more than just muscles, tendons, and bones: it’s a living breathing organ that houses and protects your spinal cord. Your brain sends and receives signals to the rest of your body through your spinal cord and nerves that branch out from your spinal cord in between your vertebrae. There is a constant flow of information. So if there is a misalignment in the bones in your spine, it can cause nerve interference. Think of your spine as a fuse box: nerves that go to your heart, lungs, stomach, etc. work in a similar fashion to the way the fuse box in your house has circuits that go to your air conditioner, refrigerator, etc. If there is a “blown fuse” at the top vertebra in your spine (usually from birth trauma) it’s like tripping the “main breaker” on your fuse box, which stimulates the part of your nervous system that focuses on protection (fight or flight) and slows down the part of your nervous system that focuses on growth, development, and immune function. Undiagnosed birth trauma is an all-too-common event. During a C-section, for example, an estimated 60-90lbs of traction (with twisting) is applied to the infant’s neck, which houses the most sensitive portions of their nervous systems. Since you can’t be in growth and protection at the same time, this can cause a myriad of problems; most notably, a depressed immune system. This makes you more susceptible to all health challenges – including ear infections.

Excessive Inflammation

The third issue is usually caused by an intolerance or allergy to certain foods, toxins, and environmental factors. Most people don’t have actual “allergies”, their immune systems just overreact to irritants in their environment. Drugs may artificially decrease the swelling and congestion – but they won’t do anything to calm the immune system or get to the root of the problem (and often have nasty side effects). Most people will find huge relief simply by following these steps – and the only side effects will be feeling/looking/being great! :)

1. Completely remove DAIRY from your diet! All cow’s milk, cheese, creams, and yogurt.

  •  Cow’s milk is good for you...if you’re a baby cow!
  •  Humans stop drinking human mother’s milk, cows stop drinking cow mother’s milk...so why does it make sense for a human to drink cow mother’s milk?
  •  You get much more calcium from fruits and veggies – especially green leafy ones. Dairy actually causes you to lose calcium!
  •  Good alternatives are almond or coconut milk, and goat cheese.

2. Significantly limit (or remove completely) your intake of sugar and grains.

  •  Sugar feeds the inflammation and congestion.
  •  Grains break down into sugar in your body – even whole grains, and drive inflammation.
  •  Eat more veggies and fruit! The fiber will help stabilize blood sugar.

3. Significantly limit (or remove completely) your intake of processed foods, especially processed meat, and search out sources of grass fed and organic meat.

  •  Processed and preservative laced foods cause your body to have an immune reaction, which will increase inflammation and thus mucus production.
  •  Cows weren’t meant to eat corn – they’re designed to eat grass! So cows that eat corn are very sick and pumped full of antibiotics to keep them alive until they grow fat enough. Not good to eat. Seek out organic and grass-fed beef whenever possible!
  • We get almost all of our meats from Walnut Acres (www.walnut4meat.com) – a local farm who raises their animals right. Tell them we sent you!

4. Start supplementing to combat inflammation and aid recovery.

  •  2,000-3,000 mg of pure fish oil every day to address inflammation and support healing, preferably the Innate Choice brand to ensure the highest quality.
  •  5,000-10,000 IU (50 IU for every pound of body weight) of vitamin D every day to support immune function.
  •  Probiotic and/or digestive enzymes every day to support a healthy gut (where most of your immune system lives).
  •  Whole Food Multivitamin to take care of any possible deficiencies.