The AAP has recently changed its recommendations for treating ear infections in children. Read on for more information.

You may have experienced this situation before:  you awake in the night to your child crying and pulling on their ears.  They may or may not have a fever and you’re not quite sure what to do.

AAP recommendation ear ache ear infectionEar infections are the most commonly diagnosed childhood illnesses in the U.S. with more than 3 out of 4 kids having at least one infection by the time they are 3 years old. Ear infections result when there is a buildup of fluid in the middle ear. This is commonly the result of inadequate drainage by the Eustachian tubes which are shorter and more horizontal in young children.

Traditionally, ear infections have been treated with antibiotics. Yet recent research points to taking a “observation option” method with regards to treatment. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that most ear infections will go away on their own in a few days. They urge doctors to do a visual examination to verify an ear infection. Often an ear infection will present with similar symptoms to teething, a cold, sore throat, or viral inflammation. Even with visual observation of an ear infection, an antibiotic may not be necessary. Increased use of antibiotics has triggered the advent of superbugs which leads to recurrent infections. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that only children with severe symptoms and/or a fever over 102.2 be prescribed antibiotics.

Popular alternative treatments for ear infections include dietary changes, essential oils, and chiropractic care.  Dietary changes include the elimination of cow’s milk and potentially gluten. There also seems to be a link between breastfeeding and decreased occurrence of infections.  Essential oils such as melaleuca (tea tree oil) which has an anti-microbial effect also help treat ear infections.

Chiropractic is safe and effective for children.  Chiropractors that work with children use gentle techniques. Often just the pressure of a fingertip is all that is needed to realign a child’s spine. During the birthing process, cervical (neck) vertebrae can become misaligned, disrupting nerve function which can affect the Eustachian tube.  This can lead to a buildup of fluid within the middle ear potentially causing otitis media (ear infection).

The Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics indicates that there is a strong correlation between chiropractic adjustments and the resolution of ear infections.  In a recent study, 332 children ranging from 27 days old to 5 years with chronic ear infections were given a series of chiropractic adjustments. Almost 80% of the children did not experience another ear infection within the six-month period following their initial visits. This period included maintenance treatments every 4-6 weeks.

The next time your child presents with signs of an ear infection consider all methods of treatment.