Why Our Little Buddies Get So Many Ear Infections
So a few days ago, I was preparing for a family/maternity photo shoot with my cousin. Naturally, I found myself on Pinterest, as I often do, for ideas. And somehow I came across this picture. At first glance, it's adorable! A delicious-looking giant cupcake for a cake smash, and a very well put-together chalkboard that puts my cursive to shame. I first looked at this picture thinking, "Oh my goodness, how cute," ... but then I read what was on the chalkboard. TEN EAR INFECTIONS! TEN! So I'm thinking, "Surely, this child is twelve years old." No. They are ONE year old. That means almost one ear infection per month. And I can only assume they were given antibiotics at each occurrence. If they are being given the typical ten-day course of antibiotics, that means this child has been on antibiotics for about 1/3 of his or her life. WOWZA.
So what's up with that? Why do kids get them so often? [Glad you asked!]
So the typical understanding of why ear infections are so common in kids is that their eustachian tubes (canal on the inner part of their ear that is the main route of drainage for the ear) is positioned more horizontally in kids than it is in adults. So unfortunately, kids don't have the benefit of gravity on their side when it comes to drainage. And when this happens, they are more likely to have a buildup of fluid, and thus ear infection. Which isn't completely wrong...but it's also not the whole story. So buckle in for some science, because it's coming your way!
There's this really special muscle called the TENSOR VELI PALATINI MUSCLE. That's a huge mouthful (which you're more than welcome to show off to your friends as your new ten-dollar word) but for the rest of this post, we will call it the TVPM. There are two key things I want you to know about the TVPM. 1. The TVPM is the muscle that is in charge of contracting and relaxing regularly to create a "pumping" motion in the ear. 2. The TVPM is controlled by the C1 nerve, which is the very first nerve coming out at the top of your spine.
So with normal function, this pumping action of the TVPM is generally sufficient to help drain things from the ear, even when a child's eustachian tube is more horizontal. But as our patients all know, if there's something causing the nerve to give off faulty/insufficient messages to the organ/muscle/tissue/gland that it supplies, then that organ/muscle/tissue/gland won't be able to function like it's supposed to! In chiropractic, we know that the subluxation (or misalignment) creates a stressful state for the nerve, and this causes the poor communication between the nerve and the body part it controls. The subluxation itself can caused by several different things, but the most common that we find with kiddos dealing with ear infections is having had a tough labor and delivery process, as that creates LOTS of stress on their neck, which is where the C1 nerve lives.
So in the situation of the ear: C1 nerve controls the TVPM. But due to subluxation, the C1 nerve is now not communicating with the TVPM like it's supposed to. So instead of the TVPM pumping out buildup from the ear like it's supposed to, it often stays contracted, and therefore can lead to a buildup...and thus ear infections!
The good news: Chiropractic REMOVES subluxation!
By removing the subluxation, now we restore the proper communication pathway between C1 and the TVPM so that the TVPM now knows what to do and how to do it! Which makes for a happy, healthy ear...which also makes for a happier, healthier child (and happier parents of course)! It's all about addressing the CAUSE instead of just the symptoms.
So for any parent whose child has been struggling with ear infections, please get your child checked by a pediatric chiropractor!
For more information and to get your child checked, click the button below!
For more information and research on ear infections and chiropractic, click HERE!