Ear pain can be excruciating. Whether the pain is in just one ear or in both ears, an earache can impact the body in unexpected ways. Ear pain can vary from dull to sharp to burning, and it can be accompanied by fever, loss of balance, lack of appetite, headaches and sleep disturbances.
There are several causes of ear pain, and ear infections are the most common. Ear infections are more prevalent in children, with an estimated 5 out of 6 children suffering from an ear infection before the age of 3. Of course, adults can experience ear pain as well. While ear infections are a commonplace health complaint, chiropractic care is a safe treatment option shown to help alleviate and reduce the reoccurrence of ear pain and infection caused by other ailments in the body—for children and adults alike. Many parents turn to chiropractors when their children have recurring earaches because they worry (for good reason, as documented in the scientific literature) that antibiotics are overprescribed, and they are looking for a drugless alternative.
Common Causes of Ear Pain
When it comes to ear infections, there are several different types. They can occur in the outer ear (a condition referred to as “swimmer's ear”), the middle ear or the inner ear. Children most commonly suffer from otitis media, an infection of the middle ear which may be acute or chronic. Problems in the middle ear account for 30 million visits to the doctor every year, representing about one third of all pediatric complaints and running up a cost of over $4 billion every year for diagnosis and treatment. By the age of three, over two-thirds of all children have experienced one or more episodes of acute otitis media, with a third having had three or more episodes.
While ear pain usually results from an infection, it could also be due to an injury, inflammation or irritated nerves in the ear. There are also a variety of medical conditions that can cause ear pain but that aren't necessarily rooted in the ear. Some of the more common causes of ear pain besides infection include:
- earwax buildup
- a sore throat
- an issue in the jaw joint
- pressure change
- sinus infection
- a ruptured eardrum
- an infected or impacted tooth
- eczema in the ear canal
- a foreign object in the ear
- chronic facial nerve pain
- severe allergies
Why Seek Chiropractic Care for Ear Pain?
Chiropractors use spinal adjustments and other techniques to help alleviate ear pain without invasive procedures. Research has found chiropractic care to effectively help reduce ear pain associated with infections—the most common cause of ear pain and other physical conditions. It is especially helpful for middle ear infections that are so common in children. A study involving 46 children under the age of five found that regular chiropractic adjustments were able to treat the symptoms of an ear infection in 93% of all cases. 75% saw improvements in 10 visits or less, while 43% found relief after only one or two visits. Another study on treating ear pain caused by both infection and referred pain from other areas in the body found chiropractic care helped alleviate symptoms.
Adjustments appear to work by mobilizing drainage in the ear—allowing the ear to drain without buildup. This is especially effective in treating chronic ear infections. For those who have ear pain associated with an infection or ailment in another part of the body, chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment option.
Many parents turn to chiropractors when their children have recurring earaches out of concern that antibiotics are being overprescribed by pediatricians. A 2016 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that at least 30 percent of the time, prescribed antibiotics are not necessary or even helpful. Other studies have shown that over half of the time ear pain is the result of a virus, and antibiotics do not treat viruses. Overprescription of antibiotics has led to drug resistance, which paves the way for disease-causing, treatment-resistant bacteria to flourish. Chiropractic care does not rely on medication, so a visit to your chiropractor is a good first stop when looking for a natural, drugless alternative.