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CHRONIC EAR INFECTIONS: New, Non-Surgical Drug-Free Treatment
The Boulder County Parent , January 1999
Boulder, Colorado.
by Erin Elster, DC.

A new health care technique known as IUCCA Upper Cervical Chiropractic has proven to be remarkably effective in the treatment of otitis media (middle ear infections.) Max, a 9-year-old in Boulder, struggled with chronic ear infections for many years before his parents found IUCCA Upper Cervical Care. Max's mother described his struggle. "My son, Max, was plagued by ear infections almost from the time he came home from the hospital (after a difficult forceps birth.) After many rounds of antibiotics, he eventually had 3 sets of tubes, a tonsillectomy and an adenoidectomy by the time he was 5 years old. At age 9, he once again had 2 very poor hearing test scores because his ears were full of fluid. The ear doctor told me that Max would need another set of tubes," she said.

Max's ear infections were later corrected by IUCCA Upper Cervical Care. "Max saw Dr. Elster for treatment and then went back to the ear doctor for a checkup. The doctor could almost not believe that his eardrums were clear and pink with perfect movement. The audiologist tested his hearing on the spot and burst out of the room with a huge smile on her face and said his hearing was great. The change was miraculous," she said. Currently Max has been free from infections and has had normal hearing for a year.

Otitis Media Prevalence in Children

Seventy-five percent of children experience at least one episode of otitis media by their third birthday. Almost half of these children will have three or more ear infections during their first three years. Otitis Media is second only to the common cold in frequency of occurrence among preschool children. It is estimated that medical costs and lost wages because of otitis media amount to $5 billion a year in the United States. (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 1997) What is Otitis Media? Otitis Media is an infection or inflammation of the middle ear. The middle ear includes the tympanic membrane (eardrum,) three bones called the auditory ossicles, and the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the throat. This inflammation of the middle ear often begins when infections that cause sore throats, colds, or other respiratory problems spread to the middle ear. Signs that a child might be experiencing inflammation in the ear include unusual irritability, difficulty sleeping, pulling at one or both ears, fever, fluid draining from the ear, loss of balance, and hearing difficulty. (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 1997)

Why is Otitis Media So Common In Children?

Disturbances in Eustachian tube functioning frequently result in otitis media. When functioning properly, the Eustachian tube, a passage between the middle ear and the throat, keeps air pressure equalized on both sides of the eardrum. If there is negative pressure in the middle ear, this results in pain and possibly a "plugged" sensation. When the Eustachian tube is blocked, fluid builds up in the middle ear cavity and may become infected. Because the Eustachian tube is smaller and more horizontal in children than in adults, it can be more easily blocked by conditions such as large adenoids and infections (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 1997.)

Hearing Loss and Speech Impediment

Otitis media can often cause hearing loss. As sound enters the ear canal, it hits the eardrum and causes the small bones in the ear to vibrate. If there is fluid in the middle ear, the bones do not vibrate as efficiently as they should. Sound energy is lost and the individual does not hear at a normal loudness level. Because normal development of speech and language requires good hearing skills in early childhood, speech and language may not develop at a normal rate if a child's hearing is impaired. (Hearing, Speech, and Deafness Center, 1998)

Medical Treatment and Reoccurrence

Typical medical treatment for recurring ear infections includes multiple dosages of antibiotics, decongestants, and pain medications. If the infections still persist, a physician will recommend a surgery called a myringotomy. This procedure under anesthesia involves a surgical incision into the eardrum and the placement of a tube into the opening to keep it open and allow fluid drainage. This tube may need to remain in place for many months and care must be taken to keep water out of the child's ears. In addition, many physicians will recommend multiple sets of tubes and surgical removal of tonsils and adenoids. However, as we saw previously in Max's case, even after many courses of antibiotics, three sets of tubes, and the tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, his ear infections and hearing loss still persisted until Upper Cervical Chiropractic treatment.

How IUCCA Upper Cervical Chiropractic Works

IUCCA Upper Cervical Chiropractic works by correcting irritation to the nervous and immune systems, the original cause of ear infections. Misalignments in the vertebrae of the upper cervical spine (upper neck), cause irritation to the nerves traveling between the brain and spinal cord that are supplying the ear and the immune system. By correcting the vertebrae in the upper neck, chronic ear infections can be corrected and prevented without the need for drugs and surgeries. Typical IUCCA Upper Cervical Care involves an initial spinal exam, specific x-rays of the upper neck, computerized spinal scans known as Computerized Infrared Thermography to measure nervous system irritation, and specific adjustments by hand to correct the misaligned vertebrae in the upper neck. Causes of misalignments to the spinal vertebrae include traumas, auto accidents, sports injuries, bike and ski falls, and poor posture. Even the birth process can put stress on a newborn baby's neck, possibly resulting in upper cervical misalignments, which can result in health problems early on in a child's life. As described in Max's case, he had a difficult birth and his ear infections started soon after he left the hospital.

Dr. Erin Elster is an IUCCA Upper Cervical Specialist and treats many childhood ailments including asthma, allergies, chronic infections, attention deficit disorder, headaches, and many more. She is currently the only IUCCA Upper Cervical Specialist in Colorado and practices in Boulder. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Palmer College of Chiropractic, Iowa. For further information, please call (303) 442-5911 or browse her web site: www.erinelster.com


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