The understanding and facts behind this topic are so clear and have been for so long, that it’s hard to believe every parent isn’t told the full truth about this all-too-common ‘Perfect Storm’ story.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about the clear, and all too commonly seen path from childhood ear infections to lifelong asthma and immune challenges.
It starts with the way we birth and deliver babies in today’s traditional medical system.
For thousands of years, kids were brought into this world WITHOUT the need for “intervention and induction” and also WITH the help of gravity. Was every birth perfect and non-complicated? Nope. But 30-40% or more of them didn’t end with anesthesia, surgical tools, and a baby being pulled out by their head and neck either.
I’m starting off talking about the birth process because it’s where the most common injury to the upper neck, brainstem, and cranial areas occurs. It’s the first “kink” that occurs, and it sets the stage for the rest of the path to develop. As you’ll see, one problem leads to another, and it just keeps going.
When there is physical strain, tension, pulling, and stress placed on the child’s head and neck during the birth process, it very commonly leads to something called a subluxation. I like to explain subluxation as having three parts – misalignment, fixation (“stuck”), and neurological interference/irritation. All three of those components are at play in this situation.
The greater the amount of intervention during the birth process (induction, forceps, vacuum, C-section, etc.), the greater the likelihood of a significant subluxation to the upper neck and brain stem area. Is it an ‘absolute’ situation? No, few things are… but in my 16 years of clinical experience, I can tell you it’s a very strong correlation.
How Childbirth Relates to Ear Infections
As we move forward, those three components of the subluxation lead to two main problems that cause and contribute to ear infections:
- Poor “plumbing” or drainage
- Lowered (weakened) neuro-immune function
When there is physical trauma to the neck in-utero, during birth, or from a fall/physical trauma early in life it creates that “kink” in close proximity to the “drain pipes” coming from the ears, sinuses, and head. Specifically, the top two vertebrae share a lot of nerve supply, muscles, and structures with the inner ear and sinuses.
If you “kink” those vertebrae you start to “clog” the drainage of the surrounding structures. In this case, that includes not just the ear, nose, and throat regions… but the lymphatics that drain the head and neck as well.
You see, pediatricians still today give the ‘explanation’ to parents that “early in life the Eustachian tubes are just more horizontal, and for some kids, that’s worse than others” and so on and so forth. Well, they are right… sort of. Those tubes are more horizontal early in life, but that’s because they were designed that way! And if that were the only reason, wouldn’t all kids have frequent ear infections?
Gravity plays far less of a role in actually draining the fluid from our ears than does one other major factor – MOVEMENT.
You see, when those two ‘physical’ components of the subluxation occur, misalignment and fixation, not only does it “clog” up the actual physical space in the ears and sinuses and lymphatics… but it’s the FIXATION part that really messes things up. When those vertebrae get jammed and “stuck” from that early physical trauma, now they don’t move around as easily or as much… and therefore, they don’t do their job in helping move fluid out of the ear and sinuses.
So finally, the longer that fluid is allowed to sit in the inner ear, the greater the chance that “bad guys” like viruses and bacteria set up shop, replicate, and cause an infection.
And on top of all that, because that region of the brainstem and spinal cord house and protect a very important “hard drive” and “operating system” for our immune system… when we have a subluxation there, we can have compromised neuro-immune function.
So if you have bad plumbing and poor immune function, you have ear infections.
The Role of Antibiotics
But alas, that’s why we have a Walgreens and CVS on every corner filled with antibiotics of all shapes, colors, and sizes right!? All a parent needs to do is go to their local pediatrician, urgent or immediate care, ER, or minute clinic and talk for a few minutes, grab the prescription, and head out. And all is good then, right?
Not so much.
We’ve had plenty of research since about the 1980s that first off, antibiotics don’t work very well for ear, sinus, and respiratory infections. And second, they don’t come without side effects. Not only are there short-term side effects such as stomach pain and diarrhea in a lot of kids, but the long-term ones are even worse.
Many studies have shown that if a child is given antibiotics early in life, especially within the first 12-24 months, it increases their risk of other long-standing inflammatory and autoimmune type issues like asthma later in life.
But the problem doesn’t stop there with over prescribing antibiotics. Read an excerpt from another study that spells it out plain as day:
“Antibiotics are not recommended for either diagnosis, as most of these infections are viral, but antibiotics are frequently prescribed to children with these diagnoses. Reducing unnecasssary antibiotic use is important: antibiotics are the leading cause of emergency department (ED) visits for pediatric adverse drug events and contribute to antibiotic resistance.”
Even the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends a watch and wait approach. “Updated American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clinical practice guidelines address the diagnosis and management of uncomplicated acute otitis media (AOM) in children aged 6 months to 12 years. The new recommendations, which offer more rigorous diagnostic criteria to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use, were published online on February 25 and in the March issue of Pediatrics.”
So if they’re known to not work well, known to have short and long-term side effects, and known to contribute to what is now a major public health crisis (antibiotic-resistant strains or “superbugs”)… then why do they still get prescribed left and right by pediatricians and doctors of all sorts? Good question.
My guess is that since most pediatricians still lack the level of education and understanding in natural health remedies and neurologically-focused options such as chiropractic, but yet care deeply and want the child and parent to receive some relief… they turn to the only thing they have in their ‘tool kit’ and still provide antibiotics.
Before we wrap up this blog post, let’s circle back to the birth trauma and poor plumbing discussion. Is that the only negative health effect our kids may face after significant birth intervention or trauma? Unfortunately, no. That is just where things get started.
In case history after case history we see the following Perfect Storm pathway play out:
- Tons of mental + emotional stress during the fertility period and pregnancy
- Birth intervention leading to physical trauma to the brainstem and neurospinal system
- Difficulty nursing, latching, soothing, and bonding
- Colic, reflux, and constipation
- Chronic and recurrent ear infections, cough, croup, RSV, and other respiratory illnesses
- Antibiotics, steroids, and other medications then frequently provided
- Altered motor development and delayed developmental milestones such as sitting up, crawling, walking, talking, social engagement, speech, etc.
- Diagnosis of things such as apraxia of speech, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, etc.
You can read more via all the links provided above, or by checking out our entire birth trauma article here.
But before we finish up this blog post, let’s explore the neurophysiological connections to asthma and how the next level of medical treatment, ear tubes surgery, may be at play.
While just like the guidelines for when to prescribe antibiotics are not necessarily set in stone, neither are the ones that help doctors know when to recommend ear tubes. Most of the time it looks something like this:
- 3 or more ear infections within 6 months
- 4-6 ear infections within 12 months
We’ve certainly seen many case histories of patients who’ve well surpassed that mark, and we’ve also taken plenty of case histories of kids who’ve received two or even three different ear tubes surgeries over the years. That likely comes from the reality that while the ear tubes and surgery “force” an improved drainage system for a short time period, as the child grows and the root cause of the buildup and poor plumbing is still not addressed… the body pushes out the original tubes and goes right back to the same Perfect Storm it has always been stuck in.
Just like ear infections and upper respiratory challenges are the #1 reason for a visit to the pediatrician, this is the most common surgery (myringotomy or tympanostomy) in kids and is performed over 700,000 times in the United States each year, costing $1.8 billion dollars.
So Where Does All That Stuck, Virus-Filled Fluid Go Next?
Many parents report immediate relief from the eustachian tubes surgery, but sadly a few weeks or months later, they start to notice that at night especially their child appears to be talking and breathing differently. Their voice changes a bit and they become a bit more hoarse, unclear, and labored in their breathing… seemingly having to “work harder” at it than before.
This time the pediatrician isn’t as concerned with the ears, but now says that the tonsils and adenoids are “swollen” and the kiddo has a strep infection. But hey, don’t worry! This one is actually bacterial a lot of the time, so you guessed it! MORE ANTIBIOTICS!
Well, as time progresses the snoring gets worse, the sinuses and throat more jammed up, the breathing more labored, and the strep infections more frequent. So finally that same pediatrician says to go back to the ENT and see about having his tonsils and adenoids removed.
For most kids, this means the same doctor, same hospital, and same surgical routine. After previously drilling some holes in one body part, they just altogether take out a few more.
Like building a coffee table you bought at IKEA, who needs all those extra body parts right? I’m sure they were just “extra” and not really needed for good, long term immune health.
(Sorry for the satire, it’s heartbreaking when you know what’s really going on and know that parents are told the whole story and given ALL of their options.)
So, back to the hospital. More surgery and more dispersal of the fluid into other places within the body.
The fluid keeps moving “south” and starts to set up shop now in the lungs and upper airway. It’s simply the next stop on the anatomical map, and where the ear, nose, throat, and lymphatics were all supposed to be draining into naturally and easily this whole time before the birth trauma or other trauma set up that subluxation and “kink” in the plumbing system.
Asthma & Allergies Set in for the Long Haul
Essentially now this child becomes sick every single day of their life… Advair, Flovent, Singulair, etc. They can’t run without challenges, they can’t go outside without challenges. Spring and fall are nightmares for them due to “allergies” as they’re now called.
Basically, what started out as a short-term, acute problem that could’ve been fixed for good with some improved plumbing and by restoring neuro-immune function is now a lifelong chronic illness and immune dysfunction. What was once a kid who struggled for a night or two with pain and discomfort, is now a kid who struggles every single day of their life.
It’s an absolute “Perfect Storm” all on its own.
These kids don’t need more antibiotics and they don’t need more surgeries. They need more facts. They need more doctors and pediatricians who will tell them the actual truth that antibiotics are not only mostly ineffective for all these challenges, they’re dangerous.
They need doctors who will tell them to seek out chiropractic care and all the natural health options for ear infections, before sending them down this perfect storm road of antibiotics, surgeries, allergies, and asthma.
If you have a kiddo who is suffering, or if you know someone who does, please get them checked by a Pediatric Chiropractor to find out if they are subluxated. If there was extra stress during the pregnancy or intervention and trauma during the birth process, the chances are high that they indeed are.
But that can mean good news for your family! Because that can mean a better chance of finding answers and relief through chiropractic care and natural health!
We know you are absolutely + awesomely that parent who continues to search for Hope, Answers, and Help – and you want to do so naturally and drug-free! That is exactly WHY our work exists, and we’re honored to have a chance to help you and your family. Please share this blog post with another friend or family member who may need to learn more about ears, antibiotics, and asthma as well!
For next steps, check out Dr. Tye’s Ear Infections Webinar – Help to Break the Cycle of Recurring Infections and Antibiotics: