• 09 DEC 14
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    The Latest on Childhood Ear Infections

    The Latest on Childhood Ear Infections

    Heard the Latest on Childhood Ear Infection?

    Please enjoy our video presentation on childhood ear problems:

    Did you know that the #1 reason why parents take their children to the pediatrician’s office is to investigate an earache? Many of these visits result in the diagnosis of Otitis Media. In the past 20 years the number of office visits for Otitis Media has increased by 150% – that’s nearly 24.5 million doctor visits. And the leading age group of Otitis Media (OM) sufferers is children under the age of two. So, if you are a parent of an infant or toddler, it is important that you educate yourself about this condition.

    What is Otitis Media?

    Otitis Media (OM) is a general name for several conditions that can affect the middle ear. This includes inflammation of the middle ear, ranging from acute to chronic. Outward symptoms may be present, but not always. For example, Acute Otitis Media (AOM) is characterized by symptoms of pain and fever. However Otitis Media with Effusion (OME) may not produce visible signs. “Effusion” simply means that there is fluid in the middle ear.

    Normal Tympanic Membrane


    Acute Otitis Media with Infection (yellowish pus pocket in lower left corner)


    Otitis Media with Effusion (clear serous fluid)


    What are the symptoms?

    The most obvious symptom of Otitis Media is earache and the feeling of pressure and blockage in the ear. If there is fluid in the middle ear, there may be a temporary loss of hearing.

    Due to their age, children may not be able to verbally describe what they are feeling. However, you may notice them rubbing or tugging on the affected ear. Of course, this may be accompanied by frequent crying.

    Often parents are quick to assume that these symptoms point to an ear infection. However teething often produces similar symptoms and membrane appearance. Even physicians may jump to the conclusion that Otitis Media is the cause. But, before you overreact, closely observe you child’s symptoms and, of course, don’t delay seeking qualified care.

    Red Reflex Associated with Teething


    Please use our resources on signs of teething:

    Teething Handout

    Are Some Children at Higher Risk?

    Yes, some children are at higher risk. And this could include yours. The Clinical Practice Guidelines, which have been established by the U.S. Government to give standard procedures for common ailments, concluded that bottle-feeding, secondhand smoke and childcare facilities can expose your child to a higher risk for Otitis Media with Effusion. Other factors that may contribute are allergies and sensitivity to airborne substances. Even certain foods, such as dairy products, wheat, soy, corn and peanuts put your child at risk.

    What does the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommend?

    Recently, the AAP released New Guidelines for the treatment of Otitis Media stating that every course of antibiotics given to a child can make future infections more difficult to treat. The bacteria begin to develop a resistance to the treatment, which results in the use of a larger (and typically more expensive) range of antibiotics. Additionally, the benefits of the treatment are small and must be weighed against the potential harm caused by this particular form of therapy.

    New Guidelines for Medical Management Handout:

    New Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Otitis Media

    Does Drug Therapy Work?

    The purpose of antibiotics in treating ear problems in children is unclear. Pediatrician, Dr. J. Owen Hendley, from the University of Virginia reviewed 100 studies on the effects of antibiotics in the treatment of Acute Otitis Media (AOM) and concluded that antibiotics help just one out of every eight children treated.

    Studies published in the British Medical Journal and the New England Journal of Medicine have proven that drugs only have a slight advantage over the body’s own immune system. When comparing immediate use verses delayed use of antibiotics, it was found that the benefit with immediate antibiotics is marginal at best. In fact, the percentage of children whose ear infections were resolved in a week with antibiotics was only slightly higher than those whose ear infections were resolved withe the same amount of time taking nothing more than a placebo.

    The truth is that there is poor evidence to support the use of antibiotics to treat AOM, especially for children less than two years of age. Drug therapy may not eliminate the fluid present in the ear, and the drugs may cause side effects such as diarrhea, gastric intestinal disturbances, nausea and vomiting. With this in mind, it’s important to note that, in approximately 60 percent of affected children, middle ear fluid simply goes away without treatment within three months.

    “Facts About Antibiotics that Might Be Prescribed” Handout:

    Antibiotic Handout

    What About Tympanostomy Tubes?

    You may have heard a tragic story from a friend who treated their child by surgically implanting Tympanostomy tubes. These drainage tubes are specifically fitted man-made devices and should be considered a last resort. Specific requirements are necessary to even consider a child as a tube candidate. These include the presence of fluid in the middle ear and a loss of hearing in both ears for a period of 4-6 months. In other words, your child must have a very severe and chronic case of Otitis Media to be considered for Tympanostomy tubes. Even then, the risks of anesthesia, repeated surgery to correct displaced tubes and eardrum scarring, must be carefully considered.

    Picture of Membrane with Tympanostomy


    A Common Sense Approach to Otitis Media

    Before you begin a regimen of drug therapy for your child, you should carefully consider Chiropractic care. Here’s why. A recent study was published in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics regarding the role of Chiropractic care for children with Otitis Media. The results were very interesting. Of the 332 children with Otitis Media. The results revealed that Otitis Media was resolved in an average of only 4 visits in acute cases and an average of only 5 visits in chronic cases. This data suggests the possibility that Chiropractic care may be more effective than drug therapy in addressing your child’s health.

    While there is no guarantee that Chiropractic care will help your child, it does provide a sensible, non-invasive approach to managing your child’s health. Talk to your qualified Doctor of Chiropractic about how your child might benefit from regular visits.

    A video from Dr. Gregson on his experiences helping kids with Otitis Media:

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