Over the weekend, I was introduced to this story. It's powerful, and heart-breaking, and completely unacceptable. (Scroll down if you don't want to cry or get really angry).
While this type of reaction to antibiotics is extreme, and fortunately rare, the truth is that chiropractic care can make a big difference in childhood ear infections.
What you need to know if your child has an ear infection
Ear infections are often self-limiting, which means that they often resolve within two weeks with or without treatment. That's great, unless it's your child who is suffering.
Antibiotics have been greatly overused, leading to antibiotic resistant superbugs, like MRSA and others. There are side effects, as seen in Wyatt's case. Other problems can include a dangerous infection in the bowel called C. difficile. Because of the side effects and the rise of superbugs, the medical literature now suggests that doctors take a 'watch and wait' approach in treating ear infections. Again, that's not very helpful when your child is in pain.
Ear infections are not always due to bacteria, so antibiotics can't help at all if that's the case. The cause of your child's ear infection could be due to a virus or allergies, or subluxation. Antihistamines are not recommneded, even if it's due to allergies.
Children's heads, ears, and eustachian tubes are shaped differently than adults, so fluid doesn't drain as well. Because it's such a small region, if the vertebrae of the neck are out of alignment (called 'subluxation'), it can lead to further problems with draining the eustachian tube and middle ear, creating a warm, wet environment that bacteria love to grow in, along with pressure and pain from fluid build up behind the ear drum.
The risk of an untreated bacterial ear infection is that the infection can get into the bones of the head behind the ear, called mastoiditis. This is used to happen more frequently before antibiotics were available, but even then it was relatively rare. As a farm family, my family rarely went to the doctor and never to a chiropractor, and my uncle had chronic ear infections which led to this, and it required surgery. This can be a serious condition, which is why your pediatrician may still want to prescribe antibiotics. Even though the ear infection will likely resolve eventually. Even though antibiotics may not help. Even though antibiotics may have some serious side effects.
What to do if your child has an ear infection
See a chiropractor! Chiropractic adjustments and other treatments can help immediately reduce the ear pressure and pain your child is experiencing. Getting a chiropractic adjustment can release congestion in the small area of the neck and head, including around the eustachian tube, to allow for better draining. Addressing subluxation can also help prevent future ear infections. At Tranquility Natural Health, Dr. McKaye, DC, ND will monitor your child closely, and ensure that the infection is resolving properly.
Don't let your child go to sleep with a bottle. Lying down to drink a bottle can lead to fluid pooling in the back of the mouth and allow more fluid to wash up into the eustachian tube, creating an environment that can promote ear infections.
Make sure no one is smoking in the home, or around the child. Cigarette smoke can irritate the airways, leading to more mucous secretion and more fluid build up. It's also associated with repeat strep infections.
Consider the possibility your child may have some allergies, especially if your child has repeat infections. It could be pets, foods, or pollen, mold or dust. If you have a family history of allergies, asthma, or eczema, or if your child has any of these problems, there are a lot of things you can do to reduce the burden on your child's body, including chiropractic adjusting. Chiropractic and naturopathic medicine can help you address this component to keep your child healthy.