Parents with children who suffer with recurring ear infections will know that these can be excruciatingly painful. There are also concerns over the potential risk for permanent damage to their child’s hearing and developmental and speech delays.

Symptoms of an ear infection may include pain (poorly isolated in children) and altered hearing with either temporary reductions or deafness.

Signs of an ear infection are redness, tugging at the ear and an increase in temperature. Not all of these will be present in all cases.

Remember: Symptoms are the things you feel or experience and signs are the things you see from the outside. It can be difficult to identify symptoms in children and infants and we often rely on signs which can also be indications of many other things and often only appear once the problem has escalated.

Too frequently antibiotics are prescribed to treat the symptoms of ear infections when there is evidence that shows antibiotics to be ineffective in the vast majority of cases of ear infections and may in fact increase the risk of reoccurrence.

What are my options?

When your little one is in pain you instinctively look for the quickest solution however this may not be the best solution for long term health.

Tympanostomy tubes (also known as “grommets”) are little PVC tubes or rings that are surgically inserted into the eardrum. It seems like there are more and more children being advised to get them; it is the most common surgery for children and the most common reason for children to undergo a general anesthetic. Fitting grommets is often combined with the removal of tonsils and adenoids at the same time. While these may seem like minor procedures, on a small body they can be hugely invasive.

Just how necessary are grommets and how well do they work in terms of preventing future ear infections?

First, grommets do not heal the ear infection. They may temporarily release the pressure and allow the ear to drain but they do not address the cause of the problem. The fluid that can drain from the ear can also be unpleasant for your child to deal with.

Second, as mentioned above, antibiotics are not indicated to be effective for ear infections and can weaken the immune system and could make you susceptible to further infections.

Also, once the grommet falls out, the child could be left with a hole in their eardrum which can lead to other problems – further infection or scarring on the eardrum which could lead to hearing loss.

We weren’t born with spare parts. Each part of the body has a function. When we remove one of those parts we create an imbalance in the body. This can result in more problems in the future.

Chiropractic Care as an alternative strategy.

More and more families are turning to Chiropractic care because they are realising the benefits for the whole family and the important role it plays in the health and well-being for adults and children alike.

A 1996 a study demonstrated that 93% of all episodes of otitis media treated with Chiropractic care improve. The study’s data indicated that limitation of medical intervention and the addition of Chiropractic care may be a great way to decrease the symptoms of ear infections in children.

Another study conducted in 1989 looked at 200 paediatrician’s kids and 200 Chiropractor’s kids. The results were interesting; 69% of the children under Chiropractic care were free from middle ear infections compared to only 20% of the children under the care of a paediatrician.

What does Chiropractic care do for ear infections?

Chiropractors are highly skilled at detecting, analysing and correcting subluxations. These subluxations prevent the continuous flow of signals between the brain and the body. These poor signals can lower our resistance to infection and create spasm in the muscles that control the Eustachian tube and result in poor drainage.

The build-up of fluid provides the ideal environment for infection to develop. Gentle Chiropractic adjustments relieve the nerve irritation and may allow the Eustachian tubes to relax, open and drain fluid from the ears. No fluid means no infection and the body’s boosted immune response does the rest. A simple non-invasive solution to a nightmare problem.

Other Natural Strategies

Try to resist the urge to rush out and find a quick fix that will only temporarily reduce symptoms and suppress their immune system leading to them becoming more susceptible to further infection.

Breastfeeding is also related to assisting in the development of the ear canal and assisting the tubes to drain, firstly by the angle that the child is cradled while feeding – and swapping sides –  and secondly by the sucking motion which acts like a pump on the cranial bones and works the tubes of the ear canal. If you are unable to breastfeed then making sure that you swap sides while feeding and cradle the child on their side rather than their back can help. This tip can also be applied to babies who are bottle fed.

Nutrition can also play a big part in preventing ear infections. Keeping the mucus producing foods to a minimum – processed foods, dairy etc. – and increasing the nutrient dense foods means that there is less likely to be a build-up of phlegm which can contribute to congestion.

Nurturing your child in the most natural way possible – hugs, regular adjustments, biologically appropriate nutrient dense foods and love – gives your child the best platform to thrive. Teach your child to trust the innate wisdom of their body.

“You are a power house of health and vitality. Your body is strong, your body is smart, your body knows how to heal.” – Dr Greg Venning


Cantekin EI. Antibiotics to prevent acute otitis media and to treat otitis media with effusion. JAMA 1994; 272(3):203-4 / Medline ID: 94293436

Froehle RM; Ear infection: a retrospective study examining improvement from chiropractic care  and analyzing for influencing factors. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1996; 19(3):169-77 / Medline    ID: 96294956

van Breda WM; van Breda JM. A comparative study of the health status of children raised under the health care models of chiropractic and allopathic medicine. J Chiro Res 1989; 5:101-3 / Mantis ID: 10048

Neurological Fitness Vol. V, No. 2 Jan 1996:

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