Pediatric Power: Childhood ear infections

Pediatric Power: Childhood ear infections

Do you have patients confused by recurrent ear infections? If so, you're not alone!

"My pediatrician frequently prescribes antibiotics for ear infections, but my child still has recurrences." This a remark made by many parents each day. Commonly, parents accept acute otitis media as a normal part of a young child's life. Yet, the truth is that although common, there is nothing normal about it.

Clinical data shows that children may get ear infections as a result of improper drainage of the deep neck lymphatics. This causes fluid to build up, the ear drum to appear inflamed and bulging, and a welcome habitat for bacteria.

The preferred medical treatment today is prescription of oral antibiotics, most commonly amoxicillin. Most chiropractors agree that nearly 100% of the pediatric patients entering their offices have taken one or more prescriptions of antibiotics.

An important study to point out to parents whose children are taking antibiotics for ear infections is a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. It concluded that children who took amoxicillin for chronic ear infections were two-to-six times more likely to have a recurrence of their ear problem than those who received a sugar pill. Lead author Erdem Cantekin Ph.D. (professor of otolaryngology) said, "children are being abused by the antibiotic treatment in this country."

Drug-resistant strains of childhood ear infections are increasing rapidly. Health officials say the trend is closely tied to doctors' misuse of broad- spectrum antibiotics, and patients' mistaken belief that antibiotics are a "magic bullet" for all that ails them.

Up to half of the 110 million antibiotic prescriptions written annually by private practitioners may be "inappropriate" for the illness being treated, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported. According to Alexander Tomasz, a Rockefeller University microbiology professor, "There's vast overuse of antibiotics." He states, "It's completely crazy" (4/94, New England Journal of Medicine).

New Federal Government guidelines recommend giving nature a chance with ear infections. Dr. Alfred Berg, co-chair of the federal panel of experts, said that in most cases the condition disappears within three-six months without medical treatment. Dr. Berg said antibiotics frequently used in the past, are of very limited value in treating the condition.

Berg also said that antibiotics can cause side effects and lead to the development of drug resistant bacteria that can cause a more serious disease. Antibiotics are not the preferred option in the early stages of the condition.

Dr. Michael Poole, a professor of otolaryngology and pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical branch in Houston, emphasized that most infants and young children with otitis media don't need antibiotics at all.

"Ongoing studies at the University of Pittsburgh suggest that only about one out of seven children with otitis media should receive a prescription for an antibiotic," he stated. "The disease usually gets well on its own."

Let your patients know that their pediatrician might not be up-to-date on the current health trends and research. This means that just because he or she writes out a prescription for an antibiotic doesn't mean that the parent must get it filled.

Remind them that progressive parents who know their children's health needs come first, are turning to their family chiropractor for solutions.

Also, inform your patients of the numerous other causes of red ears betides bacteria manifestation. These include: teething, fever, viral infection (for which antibiotics serve no purpose), allergy, etc. Instead of a treatment whose objective is to kill the bacteria or virus, a more natural approach would be to restore nervous system function resulting in normal drainage of the ears and lymphatics.

As doctors of chiropractic, we are able to adjust children, reduce Vertebral Subluxation Complex and restore normal function to the spine and nervous system which may reduce or eliminate the tense neck musculature responsible for preventing the normal fluid drainage. Once this interference is removed, the excess fluid in the ear drains, the appealing environment for bacteria and viruses to grow is removed, and the infection can heal. After normal drainage has been properly restored, the recurrence of ear infection is greatly reduced -- or nonexistent.

Share these statistics and studies with your patients. Advise them that their pediatrician's approach may not be the best for their child. When they understand this, they will be more open to the chiropractic message.

The chiropractic approach to health care is safer, natural and can be more effective. Step out in your community and share this information. It will surely be well received and very rewarding when you do.

The Chiropractic Journal.


By Stuart Warner

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